Boom or bust? We attempt to see through the mining dust. Lord Leveson lands in Sydney to warn us about the dangers of the internet. There’s a familiar air of resignation on the last day of climate talks in Doha. David Feeney insists factions aren’t killing Labor. And Stephen Mayne at the Ten AGM. Seriously.
Projects have been scrapped. Jobs have been lost. The boom in commodity prices, as Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said himself, is over. The mining industry — so crucial to the Australian economy — is in decline.
But wait. As resources reporter Owen Jacques writes today, miners predict another decade of growth in Asia. Key mineral export prices have collapsed, but some, like thermal coal, are predicted to jump back up over the next 12 months — a new coal mine backed by Gina Rinehart in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is predicted to be quickly profitable, while Japan and other nations baulking at nuclear power could ramp up demand for our resources. The coal seam gas market is booming. China’s manufacturing industry is expanding for the first time in over a year.
And the investment pipeline, for all the talk of production slowing down and projects being taken off the table, is jam-packed. Writes Jacques:
“Even with the spectre of a downturn looming, continued construction from that initial rush is still going up — it’s not due to peak until 2014. At current rates, 2016 will still have three times the mining investment of 2002 even if no new commitments are made.”
The “boom/bust” rhetoric is redundant. Our key economic sector is slowing and shifting, certainly, but there’s a long way to go yet.
Perhaps just enough time to figure out how to break an ultimately unsustainable addiction to the mining cash cow.