New figures released show the importance of the minerals sector in New South Wales, with thousands of jobs created and almost a billion dollars in royalties returned in one year.
The state has placed itself amongst the most widely accepted “resource states” of Western Australia and Queensland, creating over 2000 jobs and increasing coal exports to 110 million tonnes to 20 countries, an increase of almost seven per cent.
NSW Minerals Council CEO Nikki Williams says the increases will not only benefit the mining industry, but also spread further throughout communities and the whole of Australia.
“An estimated $6.8 billion in royalties from mining over the next four years will help pay for essential services like police on the beat, nurses in our hospitals and teachers in our schools.
“The mining industry now directly employs 35,495 people and more than three quarters of the new jobs in 2009-10 were created in regional NSW. Including the 43,718 jobs in minerals processing, the sector supports a further 355,000 jobs indirectly, which means 12 percent of the State’s employment is directly or indirectly connected to mining.”
And the growth in NSW’s mining is not expected to slow down anytime soon, with 50 new minerals projects or extensions worth $13.4 billion expected to generate 5000 jobs over the next decade.
The projects throughout NSW will include the Hunter, Gunnedah, Newcastle and Western coal mines.
“Coal remains the State’s biggest merchandise export earner, worth more than the next four sectors combined (metalliferous ores and scraps, non-ferrous metals, pharmaceutical products and meat)” says Williams.
However, she warns that such massive growths must be handled appropriately and carefully, to ensure wellbeing of communities in mining areas, and to maintain the zero fatality and decreased injuries record in NSW mining over the past year.
“This growth brings with it enormous responsibility and throws up a number of challenges that must be addressed, which is why the industry is thinking about things differently and is open-minded about doing things differently,” Dr Williams said.
“We are working hard to address concerns about the cumulative impacts of mining, particularly in the Hunter Valley through the new Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network and our industry-first Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue.
She says the issues need to be addressed through community consultation and involvement from government agencies.
"The community is outlining the problems as they see them and we want to work together to come up with some solutions.
The minerals industry also supports the Government’s new Sub-Committee of Cabinet which is developing a strategy for coal. It reflects our desire to work with the community, other industries including NSW Minerals Council, farmers, thoroughbred breeders, wine makers, and with our politicians, to help develop appropriate regional land use plans that will inform economic development and provide more certainty for everyone and lead a strong future for NSW,” Williams says.