QRC chief Michael Roche. Photo: File
QRC chief Michael Roche. Photo: File

Is the mining boom good for us?

LAST year the Queensland resources sector propelled more than $25 billion in wages, salaries and community contributions into communities throughout the state, the industry's peak body said.

The Queensland Resources Council's State of the Sector Report for 2012 said economic benefits from the mining boom were set to increase, with a further $142 million due to be spent on 66 projects in the next eight years, creating a further 40,000 jobs.

But yesterday, energy and public policy think tank Beyond Zero Emissions disputed the dominance of the mining industry in Australia, arguing the latest polls uncovered strong public misconceptions about the true state of the jobs mining provided.

A new poll by Essential Research showed mining was considered the most important industry, while manufacturing and tourism were considered less important.

"In reality, these industries employ vastly more Australians than mining, and they are being undermined by the high Australian dollar resulting from the mining expansion," BZE strategic director Mark Ogge said.

Australia currently has almost one million working in manufacturing, and close to another half million working in tourism, while there are less than 200,000 jobs in mining.


"The misconceptions about the value of mining within the community must be addressed."

Beyond Zero Emissions strategic director Mark Ogge 


"We need to have one thing clear - the mining industry is making huge profits and pushing up the dollar," Mr Ogge said.

"The high dollar is destroying jobs in manufacturing and tourism and pushing up the cost of living, particularly in mining areas.

"What these numbers show is that there is a lack of awareness about the extent to which the high Australian dollar is making tourism and manufacturing less competitive.

"The misconceptions about the value of mining within the community must be addressed."

QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the resources sector made a significant socio-economic contribution to the entire state, with its $25 billion spend in 2011 reaching almost every postcode in Queensland.

"Despite political claims that the mining industry is 85% foreign-owned and the bulk of its benefits are heading offshore, the Reserve Bank of Australia has recently estimated that over half of total receipts from current mining operations accrue to Australian residents," Mr Roche said.

"Spending, coupled with the associated multiplier benefits, means the Queensland resources sector is currently accounting for one in every five dollars of Gross State Product and one in every eight jobs.

"The mining boom should be embraced for what it is - the mechanism by which we are capitalising on our external good fortune and delivering higher living standards for all Australians."

Phil Ferenzczi's latest report for The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, which looked at advanced mining projects in the Bowen Basin, said coking coal demand will double by 2020.

Mr Ferenzci argued substantial growth from China and India would see Australia continue as a dominant supplier.

Likewise, he said the demand for thermal coal would continue to grow significantly over the next decade.

The report showed Australia's exports of coking coal were set to grow from 159Mt in 2010 to 300Mt in 2020, while thermal coal exports will jump from 143Mt in 2010 to 600Mt in 2020, with up to 250Mt coming from the Galilee Basin.

Eleven Bowen Basin mining projects, worth about $4.7 billion, have gone under construction during the past 12 months.

There are another 51 Bowen Basin projects currently under consideration with a total potential of $26 billion.

International corporate activity was on the rise, with four major resource acquisitions from overseas bodies occurring in region since August 2010.

The Adani Group, Guangdong Rising Ltd, GVK and Peabody Energy have all purchased an interest in the Galilee and Bowe basins.

More than five billion tonnes of coal remains undeveloped in the Bowen Basin, not to count large amounts of untapped coal seam gas reserves.

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