Resurgence of mining delivers jobs

Posted by | August 5, 2017 | employees, Employers, Employment, General, Industry News, Job Statistics, News


Things are looking up for Hunter mining, and that means growth, investment and jobs.

Just over 12 months ago, the commodity markets turned upward, including a significant rise in the price of both thermal and coking coal.

This resurgence in the coal price has driven healthy economic activity in the Hunter, as lower production costs secured during the downturn have boosted productivity and helped miners lock in the benefits of rising prices.

In a further boost for Hunter mining, the rise in commodity prices has been complemented by a strong ongoing demand for local coal. The 2016 Port of Newcastle export figures highlight the strong global demand for our coal, with record tonnage exported through the Port last year.

China increased imports of NSW coal by almost 9 per cent to over 24 million tonnes in 2016. Chinese demand for NSW coal has grown strongly in the past six years – from just 1 per cent of NSW coal exports in 2007 to 14 per cent of all NSW coal exports within a decade.

This growing demand has continued into 2017, with Coal Services data showing exports to China in April 2017 already up 29 per cent compared with the same time last year.

Demand for Hunter coal is also increasing across a range of other Asian markets. This reflects the deployment of more coal-fired power generation capacity across the region, including new advanced technology High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired power plants. For example, there was a 71 per cent increase in the volume of NSW coal exported to the Philippines in 2016, and a 12 per cent increase in exports to Thailand.

After several tough years of a cyclical downturn, the recovery has boosted activity and confidence in the Hunter mining sector. Several mines previously on care and maintenance have re-opened, and a number of expansion projects have been approved recently in the Hunter.

Importantly, we’re seeing improved business conditions and a return of confidence in the sector translate into jobs.

Coal Services figures show an increase of almost 700 coal mining production jobs in the Hunter since the recovery in prices began to take hold in August last year. Across NSW, the almost 20,000 coal production jobs recorded in April 2017 was the highest level since the end of 2015.

This positive jobs growth is extremely welcome, particularly in the Hunter. It will boost confidence and economic growth and stimulate additional employment across the almost 3700 Hunter businesses that supply the mining industry.

With rising demand for our coal across traditional markets and the emerging markets of Southeast Asia, there will be growing economic opportunities for the Hunter, provided we get the policy settings right in NSW.

The NSW Government has made progress in meeting its commitment to halve planning assessment times for major mining projects. While there is still more be done, if we can lock in policies that support the mining sector in the Hunter we can build on these positive export figures, attract more investment, and create more jobs.


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