Mining services a growth area: report

MINING equipment, technology and services have the potential to become the economic legacy of the Australian mining boom according to a new government report.
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Training a crew at Mastermyne's Myne Start underground coal mine complex in Mackay Queensland.

Jack McGinn

The Australian Industry Report 2014 documented the struggles of the mining industry in recent times, with 21,000 lost jobs and a decline in wage growth to below 3% considered signs of a decline in mining investment.

Mining contributed 8.3% of GDP over the past year, but Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said the economy needed to diversify to ensure prosperity in coming years.

“The resources sector continues to be a vital economic contributor, but we can’t continue to rely on it to do all of the heavy lifting as our economy undergoes further transition,” he said.

But while the report acknowledged the difficulties facing the mining industry and their wider economic consequences, the mining equipment, technology and services sector was singled out to shine in coming years.

The sector listed alongside food and agribusiness; oil, gas and energy resources; advanced manufacturing; and medical technologies and pharmaceuticals as a key segment with distinct strengths.

According to the report, the sector’s growth potential stems from its unique skills and capabilities developed in conjunction with the mining boom. It identified the sector as “uniquely positioned to emerge as the legacy of Australia’s world-leading mining industry in terms of international competitiveness”

“International success is likely to depend on the ability of Australian-based mining equipment, technology and services companies to leverage their unique technologies, expertise and experience, to deliver a high-value product and service offering in international markets,” the report said.

The report also found jobs in the sector would transition from exploration and construction to management, engineering and consulting services to create 4500 new positions by 2018.

Currently, the sector employs 386,000 people in Australia, encompassing heavy industry and non-building construction companies such as Leighton Holdings and engineering consulting companies such as WorleyParsons.

This sector generated $A65.4 billion in 2013-14 with an average growth rate of 6.3% over the previous five years.

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