Mining has a positive impact on the Hunter economy: KPMG

Mining’s negative affects have grabbed many headlines of late, especially in the New South Wales Hunter Valley region.

Mining has been blamed for polluting the area’s river systems, lowering air quality, and decimating farm land and local communities.

But there is another side to the mining sector’s presence in the Valley a KPMG report conducted on behalf of the Minerals Council of Australia suggests.

The positive comes in the form of economic growth of the Hunter region, and the NSW Minerals Council welcome it.

NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee said KPMG’s Analysis of the Changing Resident Demographic Profile of Australia’s Mining Communities report shows that responsible mining has helped the Hunter economy out-perform other regions across NSW and nationally in key economic areas such as jobs and individual income growth.

“The KPMG report is further evidence of the positive role mining is playing in the ongoing development of the Hunter,” Galilee said.

“For example, according to the report one of the most positive impacts of the Hunter mining industry is that more people in the Hunter own their own home than in any other surveyed mining region in Australia.

The report found that 70 per cent of residents in the Hunter Valley own their own home compared to, for example, 66 per cent in Queensland’s Galilee Basin and 28 per cent in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Mining’s positive impact on the economic well-being of individuals in the Hunter was highlighted in the report with 7 per cent of the population earning over $2,000 per week, up 3 per cent from 2006 and higher than the national average.

According to recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics the mining industry continues to pay the highest level of remuneration to Australian workers.

The ABS Employee Earnings and Hours Report showed that the mining industry continues to pay the highest wages in the country, with average take home earnings sitting at $2,388.20 as of May 2012.

The KPMG report also found that the Hunter Valley experienced the largest decline in unemployment rates of all major Australian mining regions between 2006 and 2012, falling from 8.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Kristen Keegan told Australian Mining that every single sector in the region is in some way entwined with mining.

Mining is also said to indirectly employ many more people within the region.

While mining employment in the Hunter has increased 51 per cent between 2006 and 2012, employment in administration and support services has risen 30 per cent, and health and social services by 16 per cent over the same time period.

“This latest analysis shows that mining not only delivers direct jobs to workers in the Hunter, but also supports jobs growth in other sectors right across the regional economy,” Galilee said.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mining directly delivers 20,513 jobs in the Hunter; it’s estimated that this generates over 71,000 indirect jobs in the region.”

The Hunter Valley is different to other mining regions across the country as it has a large live-in local constituency as opposed to the FIFO or DIVO that goes with working in mines located in remote Western Australia or Queensland.

Galilee added that KPMG’s report highlights the “local nature of the Hunter mining workforce relative to other mining regions across the country. The majority of our mining workforce live and raise their families in the region and are an integral part of their local communities”.

He said that the local element of the area’s mining sector means more indrastructure investment is required.

“That’s why it’s important that public investment in infrastructure keeps pace with the growth we are seeing in the Hunter, especially in the Upper Hunter,” Galilee said.

“The NSW Government’s own review of the infrastructure and services spending in mining regions conducted earlier this year found that Muswellbrook and Singleton have been missing out.”

Galilee said that it is essential for the NSW state government “to address the challenges of growth in this vital economic engine room”.

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