Report: Australia’s mining industry could lose up to 20,000 jobs by 2018
We haven’t seen the worst of the mining downturn in Australia. According to the BIS Shrapnel’s Mining in Australia 2015 to 2030 report, the sector is likely to see upwards of 20,000 jobs fade away by the end of 2018 as mining investments are predicted to fall by 58 percent over the next three years.
“We haven’t hit bottom yet on commodity prices or investment, which will continue to be a key drag on Australian economic growth from here,” Adrian Hart, senior manager at BIS Shrapnel, said in a statement. “While mining production will rise strongly, led by new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, this growth will be far less employment intensive than the investment phase, albeit offering contractor opportunities for maintenance and facilities management.”
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Since 2014, mining investments in Australia have fallen 11 percent with roughly 40,000 direct jobs being axed in the process.
“The persistent drag from falling mining investment has important ramifications for the economy. Quite simply, Australia badly needs new investment drivers beyond mining to provide sustainable growth in jobs and incomes,” said Hart.
According to the report, the one consolation is that production volumes are estimated to rise six percent over the next five years led by LNG exports, including increases in contract mining activity and the mining maintenance market.
Given strong growth in production and related services combined with a falling level in investment, the BIS Shrapnel report points out that Australia’s mining industry represents around 20 percent of the national economy.
“The value of mining production has grown at an annual average rate of 7.1 percent over the past five years – and there is more growth to come. Mining production is forecast to expand by over one third again over the next five years – around double the pace of the national economy – taking the value of industry output to $186 billion in Gross Value Added terms (GVA) by 2019/20,” said BIS Shrapnel economist and report author, Rubhen Jeya.
Read the full report here.
Low carbon world needs $1.7trn in mining investment
According to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, mining companies need to invest nearly $1.7trn in the next 15 years to help supply enough copper, cobalt, nickel and other metals needed for the shift to a low carbon world.
Cutting carbon emissions
The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada and others raised their targets on cutting carbon emissions to halt global warming at a summit in April hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Meeting those targets will need large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, storage for power generated from renewables and electricity transmission, all of which require industrial materials, such as lightweight aluminium and metals used in batteries such as cobalt and lithium.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Julian Kettle calculated miners needed to invest about $1.7trn during the next 15 years to “deliver a two-degree pathway - where the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times is limited to 2°C”.
“At an industry level, there seems to be reticence around investing sufficient capital to develop future supply at the pace and scale demanded by the energy transition (ET),” he said.
Mining firms are wary of making heavy investments after their experience of the last decade when they invested in new capacity just as demand peaked, leading to a collapse in prices and revenues. They also need to please investors, who are unlikely to want to see dividends diverted to capital spending.
Rising demands of investors related environment, social and governance (ESG) issues further add to the challenge.
Australia, Canada and Western Europe carry a low ESG risk but some of the best resources are in high-risk areas, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on about half the world’s cobalt reserves according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “Given the need to meet tough decarbonisation and ESG targets, Western governments, lenders, investors and consumers will need to get comfortable operating in jurisdictions where ESG issues are more complex,” Kettle said.
Kettle said government support was needed to help miners comply with ESG issues to ensure production from high-risk areas was conducted in an acceptable way to consumers.
“Then, and only then, will the West be able to secure sufficient volumes of the raw materials needed to pursue the energy transition in the timescales envisaged.”