Over the best part of 2013 critics of the mining industry found great pleasure in declaring the heady days of abundant jobs in mining in Australia were over.
However, Australia’s mining sector is attracting a new round of attention from Chinese investment companies as iron ore and coal productivity breaks new records.
In a new report, it was revealed that the fire in the belly of the mining and resource sector is firmly lit, thanks mainly to sustained and steady growth in China.
A key resources index showed Australia raked in more than 21 billion US dollars from iron ore exports in the last quarter of 2013. This outstripped the export revenues of coal by more than 100 per cent.
The latest iron ore and coal index released this week showed falling thermal and coking coal revenues ( hitting 10.1 billion US dollars in Q4 2013) are the cause behind a solid rise in Australia exports.
It also revealed that shrewd Chinese players are to this day casting a watchful eye over the Australian resources sector as it prepares to mitigate its escalating raw materials import costs by acquiring Australian mining companies and mining tenements.
This type of activity has been known to kick-start new jobs in mining in the Queensland and New South Wales coal mining regions.
Several Australian smaller coal mining companies are looking to cement a long-term revival under the watchful eye and guidance of Chinese energy giants who are scouring Australia for sustainable mining partnerships.
It’s estimated Australia exported 151.5 million tons of iron ore in Q4 2013, a gigantic increase of some 20.9 percent on the previous period in 2012.
Just this week, China Kingho Energy made a 71.2-million-dollar play for Bowen Basin based Carabella Resources which one again has created the environment for sustainable jobs in mining in Queensland.
Enthusiasm for Chinese led investment is building across the Australian mining sector, particularly as less well known mining companies who are starting their mining life-cycle look to partner with overseas companies who can offer assistance to grow their export business.
Michael Johnson, director of QE Innovations, a coal and mining technology company, based in the coal rich zones of NSW, said the coal industry in Australia is now primed and ready, with a hint of more jobs in mining as a result.
“The investment in Australian coal is timely and terrific news for the sector,” Johnson said.
Coal is the one resource with genuine staying power
“Coal may be lagging behind its big brother (iron ore) for the moment, but it has played such a key part of Australia’s historical economy, that we can safely say this is the one resource with genuine staying power.”
To give an indication of the enormous potential of coal in Australia, mining giant BHP Billiton (Mitsubishi Alliance) extracted 45 million tons of coal from just the Bowen Basin in the last financial year, with expectation of a further by 15 million tons in the 2013/14 financial year.
In 2013, BHP were slated by critics for its decision to open the Daunia mine, where it created hundreds of new jobs in mining, utilising inexperienced workers for its $5 billion mine. This decision was a positive insight into the vision of global mining companies who view Australian coal assets as a solid investment.
“coal shipments are reported to have risen 3.1 percent”
Thermal coal shipments are reported to have risen 3.1 percent to 50.1 million tons, although revenue it seems has fallen half a percent to 4 billion US dollars.
With 26 billion US dollars in advanced coal mining projects and associated infrastructure, involving more than 74 million additional tons of coal production in 2014, jobs in mining for Australian workers aren’t going away.
Other Australian coal mine and coal infrastructure projects that are considered to be ‘less advanced’ have a potential capital expenditure of around 45 billion dollars, according to the Australian Coal Association (ACA).
Australia has 26 billion US dollars in advanced coal mining projects
New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland are the top coal producing states with around 97 per cent of Australia’s output of black coal, and almost the entire black coal exports.
“It is very encouraging to see this level of long term investment in the market in a period which has been considerably challenging for coal suppliers, contractors and the sector as a whole,” he said. Foreign investment in the mining sector is a catalyst for many more jobs in mining areas like the Bowen Basin and even the Galilee Basin in the future.
China’s consistent growth, its forward-looking infrastructure projects and the successful urbanization has enabled coal forecasters to remain very optimistic.
Coal mining in Australia has increasingly become world- leading and sophisticated, hi-tech activity. The coal industry in Australia is supported by a strong equipment and services sector.
Australia has world-class expertise in design, construction, mine operation, logistics and loading facilities. It also has expertise in training, technical support and project management and employs hundreds of thousands of people in direct jobs in mining as well as ancillary mining support and services industries.