INVESTMENT in the minerals industry expanded by 93% over the past year reflecting positive expectations of continued strong global demand and high prices, according to the 2007 Minerals Council of Australia/PricewaterhouseCoopers Minerals Industry Survey.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chief executive Mitchell Hooke hailed the results of the Survey as a measure of the continued favourable conditions in the minerals industry.
However, the Survey report noted that chronic shortages in skilled labour and key construction and production inputs such as tyres, locomotives, mining draglines and grinding mills continue to cause delays and project cost increases.
While employment in the minerals industry grew by 4%, this was well short of the estimated 9% increase per year needed until 2015 to meet the needs of the industry and reflected continued shortages, especially in skilled labour, the Survey report found.
The MCA estimates that by 2015 the industry will require an additional 70,000 employees.
Infrastructure problems were found to be particularly acute in the coal industry where despite considerable investment in recent times, the capacity of Australia’s coal transport system continues to struggle.
“The MCA is adamant that without significant regulatory reform, institutional capacity building and better planning to align export infrastructure systems, the industry and all Australians will not reap the full benefits of the current unprecedented global growth opportunities,” Hooke said.
The Survey indicates only a 2% increase in coal production between 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Australia still lags behind its overseas competitors in exploration spending, according to Hooke.
However, an increase in national exploration spending indicates the industry’s confidence in the underlying demand for minerals and energy, according to Hooke.
Minerals Council of Australia