Over the past three years, the mining sector has seen peaks and troughs in total employment levels, and currently employs about a quarter of a million people.
Over the past three years, the mining sector has seen peaks and troughs in total employment levels, and currently employs about a quarter of a million people. DAN PELEDAAP

Lots of life left in mining sector

WHEN the mining and resources industry was being hailed as the saviour of the Australian economy, it wasn't because the sector was creating massive employment.

It was making money, and lots of it, for our state and federal governments, but in terms of raw job creation, the industry has never really been that large.

Before February 2011, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the mining industry had never topped 200,000 workers.

In comparison, also in February 2011, there were twice as many people working in financial and insurance services.

Over the past three years, the mining sector has seen peaks and troughs in total employment levels, and currently employs about a quarter of a million people.

Based on those numbers, the industry's shift from construction to operations hasn't had a massive impact on employment levels, at least not yet.

Even accounting for the changing direction of the sector on the whole, there are still plenty of projects around the country with promising employment opportunities.

Western Australia has about $160 billion worth of projects in the pipeline, despite the transition into record exports with few new major projects in line to replace the major Gorgon LNG and Roy Hill iron ore mine.

The Northern Territory, meanwhile, is emerging as an oil and gas hub.

Yet if you want to talk coal, it's always going to be Queensland.

The latest mammoth project - the $6 billion China Stone thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin west of Mackay - is expected to export 38 million tonnes of coal annually, for half a century.

The project will have similarly large neighbours, in India's Adani and GVK, both of which are constructing their own projects in the Basin.

All three will dwarf operating export facilities anywhere in the country.

Ignoring the 3900 construction jobs and 3400 ongoing operational roles, the fact that Meijin Energy is pushing ahead with the project despite sliding prices and other mines shuttering their operations, is a strong vote of confidence in the future of the mining industry, not just in Queensland but nation-wide.



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