OPINION: Mining still vital to Hunter community

March 03, 2016

This opinion piece originally featured in the Newcastle Herald on Thursday 3 March 2016

There is one word that sums up the Hunter mining industry.  Resilient.
There’s no pretending that the local mining sector hasn’t been impacted by some of the worst commodity prices in decades. This downturn has hurt the region as the economic impact has spread across other local businesses and industries supported by local mining.
The NSW Minerals Council recently released our latest Economic Impact Survey of 23 mining companies in NSW. 
The survey reveals what we all know to be true, that mining in the region has taken a hit over the last two years. It also found that even against the backdrop of tough conditions, Hunter mining remains one of the central pillars of the region’s economy. The survey found the Hunter continues to be the beating heart of mining in NSW.  
Over the 2014-15 survey period, NSW  mining companies directly spent $4.8 billion in the region.  This was over 40 per cent of total mining spending in NSW and the biggest regional share of mining spending during the survey period. This $4.8 billion in direct mining spending in the Hunter included more than$1.4 billion in wages to 11,200 full-time employees, clearly demonstrating how mining continues to generate jobs in local Hunter communities, despite the job losses of the last few years.
Over the four years the NSW Minerals Council has conducted this survey, the direct spending in the Hunter by mining companies has totalled $21.6 billion.  And while total spending has fallen compared to last year, it’s still higher than the $4.6 billion in total direct mining spending recorded in 2011-12.Despite the challenges, demand for NSW coal continues to grow and is expected to do so over coming years. 
With the right policy settings our Hunter mining industry can continue to provide jobs, opportunities and economic prosperity for the Hunter for decades to come.

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