Western Australia mining
(Image: AAP/Alan Porritt)

The latest news from the coalface of the climate wars has come through a report from the mining lobby, claiming that the government must learn from the lessons of the past. Basically, mining companies want more workers but they don't want to be "forced" to offer them "high salaries and generous benefits" like they did in the heady days of the resources boom. 

Many economists will point to the mineral sector's high productivity as a justification for acquiescing to the demands of the mining lobby. But the truth is that mining isn't the only, or even the best, job creator in rural and regional Australia.

Between 2002 and 2012, the RBA estimates that the "world price of Australia’s mining exports more than tripled", and investments in the sector grew from 2% to 8% of GDP. There is little doubt that some got rich off the mining boom. The only problem is that it seriously damaged other sections of the economy.