The mining industry has been and continues to be a huge part of Australia’s economy. In fact, the International Trade Administration found that the economic contribution of mining in Australia accounted for 10% of the gross domestic product in 2020. This continued growth has brought a range of benefits to the country, providing stable employment opportunities and various technical innovations in refineries and mines.
We’ll outline mining’s economic contributions to Australia as a whole below, and shed some light on how vastly important this sector is to the Australian economy.
A mining boom over the past decade has been the most critical factor in Australia’s rising standard of living. The economic contribution of mining accounts for over two-thirds of the country’s overall merchandise exports.
Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services sector are highly developed, with cutting-edge innovations and automated mining equipment. The mining industry pays billions in taxes and royalties yearly to the federal and state governments. All sectors of the country’s economy benefit from this contribution since it makes room for new institutions, including schools, highways, hospitals and more. The nation’s community organisations and scholarship programmes also benefit significantly from the generosity of the sector’s funding.
The number of Australians working in the mining business has grown in recent years, due to the industry’s resilience and a consistent drive for new recruitment. According to official statistics, mining employment in the country rose by 21.4% in the five years leading up to 2020, reaching a total of 261,900 people.
Mining is so fundamental to the country’s culture and economy that the government anticipates a 6.2% growth in the number of workers in the sector over the next three years.
Revenue from overseas sales is on the rise, thanks to premium pricing, rising volumes and the weak Australian currency. As supply increases and demand growth slows, prices are expected to fall slightly in 2023. Over the next few years, revenue is expected to settle between $263 billion and $293 billion. The Russian attack on Ukraine has caused a spike in energy costs due to concerns that demand may fall further due to the conflict. Since stocks are being replenished and international trade is being reorganised, commodity prices should level out.
Scientists and engineers have shown much faith in the country’s mining industry. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has funded several initiatives, such as a $4.6 million laboratory to advance 3D printing and metal additive technologies for industries, including mining and a virtual worker monitoring platform for underground mines.
The CSIRO funding illustrates the positive feedback loop that characterises the mining sector in the country. The sector’s prominence in the national economy and its high profitability attract the attention and resources of the scientific community — which in turn spurs further innovation in the field.
Mining’s economic contribution prospects in the country are bright, thanks to the fast pace of technological and exploratory advancements. The international demand for the country’s resources is enormous, and the country possesses a vast, largely unrealised potential. As Asia’s economy continues to expand rapidly, so will the demand for Australia’s resources.
As the industry embraces digitalisation and new technologies, the current workforce will acquire new skills and fill new positions. Technology development will also help industries that work closely with the mining industry because there will be an increased demand for mining equipment, technological services and business partnerships. Regional and rural areas of the country will benefit from this significant employment growth.
Australia has more than 350 mines currently running. About a third of these mines are situated in Western Australia, a quarter is in Queensland and a fifth is in New South Wales. These are the three major mining states.
The country’s two biggest minerals are iron ore (29 mines), of which 97% is mined in WA, and coal (over 90 mines), mostly mined in QLD and NSW on the east coast. Unlike most countries, Australia produces 75% of its black coal from open-cut mines. The non-coal local mining industry similarly has a 3:1 open-cut to surface-to-underground ratio.
The mining industry has been crucial to Australia’s development for decades. It is still one of the oldest industries in the country and has a substantial impact on its economy. Over a quarter of a million Australians are directly employed in the mining sector. The industry contributes significantly to the economy through its high pay, investment and tax returns. All regions of the country, from the major cities to the outlying rural and remote areas, benefit from the economic contribution of mining in the capacities of the workforce through the creation of new employment and opportunities. In terms of income, living standards and overall prosperity, mining has been a crucial factor in these metrics’ growth over time.
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