Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says unions need to tone down their wage demands now that commodity prices have dropped.
Speaking at a Sydney business forum yesterday, Ferguson said mining companies were struggling with rising costs and they needed a "low risk" environment in order to keep growing.
"Governments, industry and unions alike must recognise that the days of record high commodity prices are behind us," he said.
"The price of iron ore and coal, are, roughly speaking, all about half what they were a year ago."
The Australian reports Ferguson said unions had to align wage expectations with the health of the mining industry.
“The union movement has got to understand what you could ask for when iron ore was $US190 a tonne is different to when it's at $US90 a tonne," he said.
“The world has changed in the past 12 months.”
Mapping out a roadmap for the future, Ferguson said improvements to productivity were vital, and Australia needed to be open to foreign investment.
You can read Ferguson's full speech here.