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Minerals Snapshot::

Gas Explosion

 

Australia’s mineral and energy sector has never been more productive, with exports to Asia at their highest ever. Following the signing of a $50billion gas deal with China in August 2009, Australia is recognised as one of the key energy exporters in the world. Not only is Australia’s export industry booming, local infrastructure and employment is set to grow as well.

 

Export Value

In 2007-08, earnings from Australia’s mineral resource exports increased by 11 per cent to $116 billion. Australia is the world’s leading producer of lead, bauxite and alumina, diamonds (by volume), ilmenite, rutile and zircon (and synthetic rutile) and tantalum. Australian mineral exports have steadily increased over the last twenty years, contributing over $500 billion directly into local wealth. Australian exports are highly competitive in an international mineral export market. Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter, and black coal is Australia's largest export product, worth more than $A24 billion in 2007-08.

Infrastructure

The mining and minerals processing sector has had a major impact on Australia’s economy and infrastructure. In the last forty years, the industry has built 26 towns, 12 ports and additional port bulk handling infrastructure at many existing ports, 25 airfields and over 2,000 kilometres of railway line. Mining companies also contribute directly to improving road, rail and air services.

Employment

The mining and mineral industry is an important force in driving the social and economic development of regional Australia. The mining industry employs, directly and indirectly, over 320,000 Australians. The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, estimated that a further 6,000 jobs would be created by Australia’s latest export deals with Asia. Many of these new employees will be people living in remote and sparsely populated areas of regional Australia, providing income and stability for isolated communities. Additional jobs are created in ancillary industries like tyre and fuel suppliers and engineering works.

Sustainability

 

Social researchers are working with the minerals industry in an attempt to predict the challenges the minerals industry will face in the future, and explore pathways to social sustainability. In the past few decades the mining industry in Australia has moved to improve its environmental management, and in the past decade has been prominently involved in the global debate about sustainability and the need to incorporate sustainable development into mine operations as well as corporate policy.

A great proportion of the area mined in Australia is Aboriginal land. The Aborigine’s Benefit Account was established to pass on royalties from the Northern Territory and Federal Governments for mining on Aboriginal land to the people affected by the mining.

 

Fast Facts

 

. Australia and China have signed the largest export deal in Australian history this year, worth $50 billion.

. The mining sector is the largest employer of environmental professionals.

. Over the five years to 2008/9 all minerals industry exports have totalled over $441 billion.

. Australia is the largest exporter of black coal, alumina, iron ore, lead and zinc and the second largest exporter of uranium.

 

 

August 2009, Madeline Evans