The Australian minerals industry involves the exploration and mining of minerals (including coal) and the associated minerals processing industry. It is one of Australia’s most important industries and provides direct and indirect benefits to all Australians. The Australian minerals sector ranks among the top five producers of most of the world’s key minerals commodities.
The current the global demand for coal is set to increase, with mines in the state being well positioned take advantage of this swing. The coal industry was positioning itself for an inevitable revival of coal demand, driven by China and India. Australia’s coal sector has been hit hard with miners operating on thinner margins and an estimated 9000 jobs cut in New South Wales and Queensland over the last 18 months.
Relation with China
The Australian mining boom built over a decade on China’s hunger for energy and raw materials is turning into a possible bankruptcy for many business owners. Australia has been the envy of the Western world due to its fortunate avoidance of the recession during the global financial crisis while other wealthy countries drowned in debt. But after all the good luck based on its connections with China and its demand of energy and raw materials, Australia now faces a potentially painful transition as it weans itself off a heavy reliance on its two biggest exports, coal and iron ore.
There have been significant decreases in the job department concerning Australia’s mining employment numbers, with over 1 500 job vacancies being noted. The number of jobless is expected to increase more than 70,000 in coming months and the government's finances are turning a deeper shade of red, forcing cuts to public services. But in spite of this all, there is a continuous demand for engineers, maintenance workers, designers and drafters, machinery operators and skilled trade workers.
A ray of hope
The latest figures stated by the ABS regarding the labour force indicated that at the end of May, 261,100 Australians were employed as a result of investment in the country’s mining, oil and gas projects.
The good news is that resource projects worth approximately A$268-billion have remained under construction. As they will be developed and they will reach the final investment decision, the recruitment activity within the industry of mining will remain a strong one. By securing these projects, the Australian government estimates that the construction demands alone could create around 135,000 new jobs by 2018.
The final outcome of this situation can only settle through the passing of time. Depending on the totality of resources still available in the ground and on the demand of the market, especially the Chinese one, the fate of Australian miners is yet so be settled.