It seems that in a matter of months the industry has gone from one of the world’s best with glowing prospects to the spectre of mounting mine closures.
Of course the signs of this turnaround had been plain for all prepared to look. Even sight-impaired Edward could see them.
Those running the country though, were the only ones who could not see them – or at least admit publicly that they could see them.
Since Australia handed the national reins of power over to Labor in 2007 the country has seen numerous attempts to nobble the mining industry.
Kevin Rudd’s ill-advised Resource Super Profits Tax was the first obvious sign that the government had it in for miners. That its replacement, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, will not bring in any revenue is of little comfort to the sector.
Then there was the carbon tax – and coal is clearly in the crosshairs of that particular policy.
However, the real seeds of the attack on the industry were sown when the government restructured Australia’s industrial relations laws.
Suddenly the unions, whose influence had been on the wane because they were irrelevant, were given a shot in the arm.
With it comes increased wage pressures on an industry with already hugely inflated wage issues.
On top of that is the fear of increased industrial disputation and the attendant costs with that.
Australia is already witnessing how the unions will go about it. Just look at what is happening in Melbourne with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union going up against the Grollo Group in Melbourne.
It also starkly shows how ineffectual the workplace laws are.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the CFMEU is acting illegally but has no power to make it stop acting that way.
It’s like the old joke about the British police officer chasing an armed robber: “Stop or I’ll shout stop again”
There is some serious work that needs to be done to ensure that Australia makes the most of its natural advantages and does not get gazumped by nations with lower costs.