The impact of the current mining boom in Australia, aided by unprecedented demand for minerals from an emerging China, has helped this nation to withstand global financial turmoil. Australia’s mining and energy resources – coal, iron ore, gold, bauxite, oil, gas, copper, uranium, etc – accounts for about 9% of GDP, but more than half of national exports. The resources sector is booming, however its success may cause problems elsewhere, such as pushing up the value of the dollar, which can adversely affect sectors like manufacturing and tourism.
How sustainable is the latest mining boom, and how should government manage the ‘two-speed economy’? Is the recent controversial introduction of the mining tax going to fairly spread the super profits from Australia’s non-renewable mineral wealth to all Australians? How much does Australia’s economy rely on minerals revenue, and what are the boom’s impacts on employment and other sectors in the economy, as well as the social and environmental costs? Are the structural changes in the Australian economy brought about by the mining boom sustainable – what happens when the mining boom goes bust?