Minister Ian Macdonald on mining in Hunter Valley

Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.

Minister Ian Macdonald on mining in Hunter Valley

Postby HVPA_research » Thu May 13, 2010 8:30 am

HVPA response to this presentation is here.

Edited transcript ..

Ian Macdonald - NSW Mineral Resources Minister
NSW Minerals Councils OH&S Conference, Pokolbin Mon May 3, 2010


Now, I'd just like to go a bit broader for a moment because there are a number of issues confronting this sector
that I think I need to make a few comments about.

Firstly, again I want to highlight the importance of this industry, of mining, to society. The NSW mining industry is a vibrant one employing nearly 30,000 people directly and almost 81,000 indirectly through the provision of both mine and non-mine related services. Direct employment in the NSW coal industry June 2009 was nearly 17,000.
NSW produces a diverse range of minerals including coal, gas, metals industrial minerals and construction
materials.

The total value of the NSW mineral production in 2008-09 was estimated at nearly $23-billion, an increase of 63
per cent over the previous year. Coal production valued at almost $19-billion in 2008-09 is the state's largest mining sector.
Coal is the single largest export from NSW in value terms. Mining brings significant economic benefits and employment opportunities for people living in regional and rural areas of the state through job creation, investment, community enhancement programs and regional development.

The mining industry supports manufacturing, construction, banking, financial, engineering, property and transport sectors.
It is a broad impact on our economy. Coal provides an affordable and reliable source of power for NSW households and businesses and is one of the most competitively priced electricity sources in the world. More than 90% of local electricity needs in NSW are met with locally mined thermal coal. We can't get away from the fact that coal is the dominant source of power generation in NSW, in Australia and across the world.

So imagine if there was no mining for one day, what effect it would have on each of our lives.
There'd be no morning cup of coffee, no toaster, no microwaves, no hot water for the shower, no hairdryers, no
irons, electric shavers, no car-train-or bus, no computers, no lights, no phones, no mobiles, stereos, no Ipods, no
air conditioning, no heating, no plasma TV, no radio, no newspapers.
All of these are composed of steels, alloys, loead, zinc, platinum, iron ore and many run on electricity, the list is
endless. No overseas holidays, no theatre, no movies, there would be no export industry, automobile industry, building or
manufacturing industry. In other words, our living standards would be grearly reduced.

So any suggestion to ban or limit mining which is increasingly getting credence is some sections of the media is
completely unrealistic.For instance in NSW, the Greens assume by limiting the amount of mining that somehow the people of NSW would be better off.. The Greens don't understand that the NSW mining industry directly contributes to their standard of living and is striving to make itself a world leader in occupational health and safety and in environmental performance.

The Opposition in parliament have attacked the government's support of the mining and extractive industries,
support for which I make no apology. We have to deal with these issues and we have to project mining as a vital part of our society, not one that can be kicked in some sections of the media on an endless basis on a locational basis often and on a small area basis.

... As I said mining today faces many unprecedented threats.
Although it has the tacit support of the overwhelming majority of Australians, it suffers from a complacency and
lethergy towards it actual industry and production. Mining is prey to the energetic activities of a vocal minority as I 've been referring to that demonise the industry, whilst denying its overall and fundamental benefit to humankind.
This is particularly true in the Hunter, where we have a number of largely small groups opposing mining in the
region on a number of grounds, well organised and exploiting the media's insatiable demand for copy and conflict.
Whereas the day-to-day activity of tens of thousands of people and their families engage directly or indirectly
with mining are ignored.

Positive stories stories receive very little coverage compared to the sensationalised views of a minority.
This poses great problems as the industry confronts significant threats from many areas which will require
painstaking attention to detail and consultation to avoid contraction of this important industry, a contraction we
can ill afford in this state and in this country.

In some areas very real concerns such as in the Upper Hunter, there are some very real concerns, these
concerns will need to be patiently negotiated with other industries that have significant contributions to make.
It is a challenge to us all both in terms of the consultation and negotiation but also at the government level,
painstakingly ensuring the industry can renew itself to continue to contribute so greatly to the NSW economy and
the everyday lives of citizens of this state
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