Competitive push

THE Minerals Council of Australia is releasing a report from Port Jackson Partners gauging the extent of Australia’s cost crisis.

Staff Reporter

It is fair to say the cost blow-outs afflicting mining projects around the country have led to several of them being shelved.

MCA chief executive Mitchell Hooke said the council had been warning of the structural defects in the Australian economy for several years.

The problem is, the defects had been masked by high terms of trade.

“As the value drivers of the ‘mining boom’ shift from price-led to volume-led growth, Australia is increasingly vulnerable to competition from resource-rich emerging economies,” he said.

“Our country’s attractiveness as a place to do business in a highly globalised industry is slipping due to a combination of rising costs, declining productivity and a deteriorating sovereign risk reputation.

“With commodity prices having fallen from peak levels, complacency and backsliding on economic reform pose a real threat to the minerals sector and to the wider economy.

“Within the highly competitive global markets for thermal and coking coal, copper and nickel, more than half of Australia’s mines now have costs above global averages.

“Even in iron ore, Australia has lost its operating cost advantage for all but the established Pilbara projects.

“The [Port Jackson Partners] report demonstrates that Australia is losing global market share to rapidly emerging resource-rich economies.

“Added to that, a policy focus on redistributive rather than the productive side of the economy has been pivotal to undermining our competitiveness and attractiveness to investment.”

Hooke said there was a solution though.

“The report clearly sets out the road map to reform which, it argues, must begin with the recognition of our eroding structural competiveness – what the report describes as our ‘burning platform’,” he said.

“The prize for getting the framework for minerals resource development right is immense but it will take hard work from both industry and government to secure the economic opportunity that is at risk.”