The global business of mining [opinion]

You can walk on to most sites around Australia and find Aussies, Kiwis, Americans, British, Irish, South Americans, Canadians, and South Africans.

And they'll be using Ame­rican, Japanese, Chinese, German, Italian and Russian equipment.

It is an industry that encompasses the entire world like very few others do.

And it was this global alignment, coupled with the ability to tap into market opportunities, that helped Australia through the devastating global financial crisis in a way that many other countries couldn't do due to their inability to access the same markets.

The mining boom, right after this devastating financial event, put Australia in an enviable position globally.

But as the mining boom slows down, what does this mean for Australia, seeing we spent much of this century focused on just digging minerals up and exporting them?

Well, luckily for our nation we also spent a large chunk of this last century developing our skills and technology.

Australia may not be a mining manufacturing powerhouse like the US, Japan, or Russia, but we are damn good at mining, and even though our productivity has been dropping and become stagnant over the last few years, that hasn't stopped the nation from making innovative technology and developing smarter ways in which to mine.

We've got the skills, we have the ability; the only issue for us is getting these skills into new markets, and to be fair, geographically, we're in the middle of nowhere, with New Zealand to keep us company.

So how do we do this?

As I typed this I was sitting in Moscow waiting to meet up with Austmine and Austrade who were working to showcase Australia's ability in technology and technique to Russia's mining industry, combined with the massive Mining World Moscow exhibition where our nation has its own pavilion.

Automation, safety, efficiency; these are sectors where Australia already leads the world (or is ahead) in implementation and trials.

It'll be interesting to see how a country with such dif­ferent conditions to our mining environment (the temperature dropping to 20 below zero is a problem I'm pretty sure we'll never have to face) will take to our unique approach to mining.

While our country won't stop mining anytime soon, we are heavily reliant on the vagaries of the commodities market, so adding another string to our bow (especially a strong technological one) ensures that our industry, no matter how the commodities markets turn, will continue, and that we will remain an integral part of this global mining industry.

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