A report commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia and released by Deloitte Access Economics at the end of March showed the Australian mining and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) industry held onto its status as a global leader, not only as a mining nation but also as an innovation nation.

The report, Mining and METS: engines of economic growth and prosperity for Australians, stated the Australian mining and METS industry was in competition with a number of other countries, including South Africa, Canada, Indonesia and Brazil, that were equally blessed with natural endowments of a number of important materials. Innovation was the key differentiator for Australia in keeping ahead of the others.

The results come off the back of 10 case studies that focused on the working practices of some of the largest mining companies listed on the ASX, as well as smaller service companies that support the industry in Australia.

A common theme apparent across all the case studies showed innovation was about unlocking individual ideas and improving what workers did every day.

The case studies illustrated no matter what the size of the company or the worker’s position in the organisational chart, good ideas were recognised for their merits and quickly adopted. The benefits of innovation ranged from broad strategic improvements through to enhancing individual worker’s tasks.

As well as being a global leader for innovation, the report found the Australian economy was still enjoying the benefits of the latest mining boom that dated back to 2003.

The sector is currently in the export/production phase whereby rising export volumes support a range of manufacturing and service activities across Australia.

This activity contributed towards the $236.8 billion of Australia’s gross domestic product that stemmed from the mining and METS industry in 2015/16. This equates to about 15 per cent of the total GDP and highlights how important the industry continues to be.

The report found the mining and METS industry supported 1,139,768 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs during this time, which represented roughly 10 per cent of total FTE employment in Australia.

As well as being felt on a national scale, the mining boom has made waves in some regional areas across the country, according to the Deloitte report.

The Pilbara region in Western Australia, the Bowen-Surat region in Queensland and the Hunter region in New South Wales all experienced a significant economic contribution, much higher than the national average, due to mining and METS activities in 2015/16.

In the Pilbara, mining and METS contributed around 88 per cent of the total regional economic activity for the area as it produced $37.8 billion as well as supporting 93,800 FTE jobs.

The Bowen-Surat region had more FTE jobs supported?by the industry with 99,700, but mining and METS represented around 63 per cent of the economic activity for the region with a contribution of $18.6 billion.

The final region to be highlighted by the report was?the Hunter in NSW, which showcased an economic contribution of $15.2 billion and 93,600 FTE jobs from to mining and METS.
METS Ignited Chief Executive Officer Ric Gros said he was excited to see METS included as part of the report.

“We are delighted to be recognised alongside the mining sector for our contributions to the Australian economy and community,” he said.

“The report found mining and METS activities support 1.1 million jobs, many of them in the Pilbara, Bowen-Surat and Hunter regions, and it states innovation is an integral part of this global and highly competitive sector.

“These messages form part of the existing narrative around our industry – METS companies provide world-class products and services that are shaping the mines of the future.”

In looking to the future, the report highlighted a number of areas that needed to be addressed by future governments in order to enhance and enable the current mining boom to continue and progress.

It stated previous governments, by increasing competition in markets for products, finance, energy, infrastructure and labour, facilitated the current mining boom and allowed its benefits to spread and endure.

It went on to suggest the pace of reform had slowed more recently, and in some cases past reforms had been eroded by policies and regulations that impeded national competitiveness and productivity.

In order to avoid further impediment to the sector and to sustain the economic contribution of Australia’s mining and METS industry, the report suggested a number of policy considerations likely to be relevant.

The report concluded by stating it was critical governments heeded key policy areas and initiated reforms where improvement was required, so mining and METS continued to innovate and grow, helping to secure Australia’s future prosperity.