Minerals Council slams ‘misleading’ report on mining boom

The NSW Minerals Council has slammed a report calling for the slowing down of the mining boom, calling it flawed and misleading.

In a report by the Australia Institute entitled Too Much of a Good Thing? Macro-Economic Case for Slowing Down the Mining Boom, it states "that is, while it is clearly in Australia’s interests that the world is willing to pay record prices for our natural resources it is not nearly as clear that it is in Australia’s national interest to simultaneously develop 94 new mineral projects".

The 17 page report investigates the skills shortage and infrastructure issues, and calls for a competitive auctioning process for the granting of mining approvals, as well as a rationing of new mining developments.

One of the report’s authors, Matt Grundoff, has previously published a report into the effects of the mining on Queensland, entitled Job creator or job destroyer – an analysis of the mining boom in Queensland.

His report stated that the mining boom is expected to destroy around 20 000 non-mining jobs in the state.

The NSW Minerals Council hit out at its findings, stating that the report "is riddled with incorrect assumptions and flawed arguments, and misleads on an industry vital to the future of this State".

It went on to say that "it is important that any serious report into the mining sector in NSW is responsible and based on fact.

"Unfortunately the Australia Institute’s latest report falls well short of this.

"The report is a political statement pretending to be fact-based. It misrepresents the scale and expected growth of the mining sector to give the impression that mining projects are overtaking the NSW economy and engulfing the state."

It rejects the reports claims of ‘unrestrained growth’ and a ‘let ‘er rip’ attitude towards mining.

"Mining is already one of the most heavily regulated industries in NSW and is subject to multiple levels of monitoring and regulation. The increase in the overall number of actual mines in NSW has been modest. In 2005-06 there were 58 coalmines operating in NSW, rising to 61 last year," the Minerals Council said.

"Despite this, the Australia Institute report is almost entirely based on the assumption that the NSW mining sector is about to simultaneously develop 33 mining projects across the state.

"The assumption that all mine proposals are approved and that approved projects are developed simultaneously does not reflect reality. Under NSW planning laws, all potential projects are considered on a case by case basis and not all proposed developments go ahead. "

However it does acknowledge that while "it’s true that according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics there are 33 coalmining projects (new and extensions) proposed in NSW.

"The Bureau also makes clear that 20 of these projects are in a ‘less advanced’ stage which means they may or may not proceed. There are actually only 13 coal and minerals projects in NSW at an ‘advanced’ stage, which means they are ‘committed’ or ‘under construction’. "

It also attacks the reports proposed ‘auctioning’ of mine development rights.

"Auctioning the right to develop mines would also significantly reduce exploration activity, as it would add significant risk to the process of undertaking exploration projects.  Limiting exploration would see a definite contraction in the pipeline of mining projects planned for the future."

The Council goes on to attack the Australia Institute, stating that it is "clear that the Institute has released its report in the guise of an academic study, when in reality it is simply a political vehicle designed to discredit the mining industry in NSW".

It added that the Minerals Council welcomed "robust discussion into the future of mining in our State. 

"However it is in the best interests of NSW; its communities and its people, that any discussion be based on fact, rather than irresponsible politicking by special interest groups such as the Australia Institute." 

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