The NSWMC has criticised a report by the Australia Institute, titled Macro-Economic Case for Slowing Down the Mining Boom.
In the report it states “the mining industry has worked hard to focus the public and political attention on the question of 'is it better or worse to have a mining boom?' [but] the more important question is 'what rate of growth of the mining industry is consistent with the national interest?'.
“The purpose of this paper is to consider a feature of the mining boom which has been barely considered in the Australian policy debate to date: namely, how fast should the mining construction boom be allowed to develop?”
The NSWMC labelled the report a “political statement pretending to be fact-based.”
“It misrepresents the scale and expected growth of the mining sector to give the impression that mining projects are overtaking the NSW economy and engulfing the state,” the council said.
The industry body said actual mining operations accounted for around 0.1% of NSW land compared to 76% for agriculture, 3.7% for forestry, and 1.8% for urban and rural residential development.
Growth in the NSW mining sector over the last five years as a result of innovation and increased capacity has seen production increase from 125 million tonnes in 2005-06 to 157Mt in 2010-11.
owever, the NSWMC said contrary to the scare tactics used in the report, the growth in mining in NSW has not been unrestrained.
“Mining is already one of the most heavily regulated industries in NSW and is subject to multiple levels of monitoring and regulation,” it said.
The AI report went on to say that it is in Australia’s interests that the world is willing to pay record prices for our natural resources.
However the report suggests it is questionable whether or not it is in Australia’s interests to develop 94 new mineral projects in line with record prices.
“The Australia Institute report is almost entirely based on the assumption that the NSW mining sector is about to simultaneously develop 33 mining projects across the state,” the council said.
While the council said it was true according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics there were 33 coalmining projects proposed for NSW, it said 20 of these projects were in the less advanced stage.
“There are actually only 13 coal and minerals projects in NSW at an ‘advanced’ stage, which means they are ‘committed’ or ‘under construction’,” the council confirmed.
The NSWMC said it welcomed discussions into the future of mining in the state, but the council said discussions should be based on fact “rather than irresponsible politicking by special interests groups such as the Australia Institute.”
Mining and minerals processing generates approximately 93,000 direct jobs across NSW and supports an additional 325,000 jobs indirectly.
“It is these people who are most at risk from misleading and irresponsible claims about the impact of mining,” the NSWMC said.