A report which claims more than 80 per cent of Hunter Valley residents are opposed to coal mining has been slammed as an “ideologically driven, anti-mining exercise” by the industry.
A new Australia Institute survey said over one thousand Hunter Valley locals were quizzed about their attitudes towards the coal industry.
The survey, ‘Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley’ economy report said 85 per cent of residents did not want to see the industry expand and 40 per cent would like to see the coal sector phased out.
It said survey participants thought there were four times as many employees in the region’s mining sector and were also under the false impression as to how much coal royalties contribute to the NSW economy.
Report author Roderick Campbell used to results to hit back at industry claims that locals supported mining in the Hunter Valley.
‘‘The coal industry’s public statements invariably emphasises its apparent importance, but when the industry is placed in context we see that coal is not the bedrock of the Hunter economy,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘The reality is that 95 per cent of Hunter workers do not work in the coal industry and only two per cent of NSW government revenue comes from coal royalties.’’
It said a smaller mining industry would only have minor impacts on the Hunter’s economy.
“Stopping the expansion of the Hunter coal industry and beginning to reduce its output levels will not cause widespread unemployment or problems for state finances – it would, in fact, be likely to improve air quality, health and environmental impacts and bring benefits for other industries.
“The people of the Hunter Valley – and NSW decision makers – should realise that an ever-expanding coal industry is not essential to the economic future of the Hunter.”
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has slammed the report, labeling it an insult to the “15,000 local workers and their families who rely on mining for their livelihoods”.
“It’s also particularly insensitive given mining in the Hunter is going through tough times and people are losing their jobs,” Galilee said.
“As well as dismissing mining jobs in the Hunter as insignificant, the report also fails to acknowledge thousands other workers in businesses across the Hunter whose jobs are supported by mining.
“A visit to any of the industrial estates across the Hunter would find hundreds of jobs in manufacturing businesses that rely on work with mining operations, yet according to the Australia Institute these jobs aren’t mining-related.”
A NSW Minerals Council’s survey last year found that 4,871 local Hunter businesses were directly supported through spending by the Hunter mining industry.
It said mining companies spent $6.3 billion on businesses, salaries, wages and community contributions in the Hunter last financial year.
"The Australia Institute is living in a parallel universe if it believes this is a not an important contribution to the Hunter community,” Galilee said.