Mining boom equals big bucks

THE region’s rapidly expanding mining industry pumped $742 million into local economies and supported almost 2500 jobs last financial year, according to figures provided by a lobby group.

The report released by the NSW Minerals Council yesterday, based on a survey of 26 exploration and mining companies, claimed the resources sector accounts for 3.8 per cent of northern NSW’s gross regional product.

An estimated 646 full-time equivalent employees residing locally were paid a total of $77 million in wages at an average of $119,000 in 2012-13, while the industry supported a further 1838 jobs.

About $103 million was spent directly on goods and services, local councils and community groups – the majority going to Gunnedah, Narrabri, Tamworth, the Liverpool Plains and Armidale – taking the total direct contributions to $181 million.

Rod Bridges, the chief operating officer of Idemitsu Australia Resources – which runs the Boggabri Coal Mine – said the industry generated significant wealth and job opportunities for the region.

“Currently we employ 600 people (at the Boggabri site) and by June 2014 another 450 people during the expansion,” the Queensland-based CEO told The Leader during a visit to Tamworth yesterday.

“No question, we have a social responsibility to ensure that we have our stakeholders and communities on side to operate these mines and we’re very proud of our Muswellbrook, Boggabri and Emerald mines, which have huge community support.”

But The Australia Institute economist Rod Campbell described the report as “misleading” and said it was based on a flawed methodology that exaggerated the results.

“There are things that are true in this report: we dig up large amounts of coal and it’s worth large amounts of money that mainly flows to foreign investors,” he said.

“By including indirect jobs, the mining industry is claiming it created them and that is really problematic because all industries create downstream jobs, it’s just that the mining industry has the money to pay economists to estimate these things. One thing that we’ve been saying for a while is that if all industries calculated their downstream employment the way the mining industry does, Australia would need a workforce three times larger than it actually has.”

The report also found that across the state the mining industry had provided $26.6 billion in value-added contributions to the economy and supported 23,483 direct and 155,519 indirect jobs.

Coalmining operations in the Hunter supplied half of the industry’s economic value to the state, generating nearly $13 billion and 71,737 jobs in total.

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