THE Australia Institute has released economic modelling that shows a moratorium on new mines or mine expansions would have a minimal impact on the national economy.
The self-described “progressive” institute says the research shows Australia could easily handle a gradual phasing out of coal. It says gross domestic product and employment would still grow strongly because coal is a relatively small part of the national economy.
Institute research director Rod Campbell said the Hunter would be the region of Australia “most affected by a phase-out of coal mining” but the economic modelling carried out by Victoria University showed the region’s economy would continue to grow even if mines were shutting down.
“Even with a moratorium, the Hunter economy is estimated to grow from a gross regional output of $37 billion dollars in 2016 to over $50 billion dollars in 2040,” Dr Campbell said.
“The continued growth of the Hunter under a policy of no new coal mines is a result of the region’s diverse economy. While the region produces most of NSW’s coal, it also includes the major city of Newcastle and a range of industries. Coal mining accounts for only five percent of employment.”
Dr Campbell said most of the benefit to the Hunter from mining came from wages: the profits went elsewhere, often overseas.
He said the modelling did not capture the impact that coal mining had on the environment and on mining-affected communities. If these costs were included, the benefits would be even greater than the research suggested.
The NSW Minerals Council takes issue with much of the Australia Institute’s work, and says mining companies spend at least $7 billion a year in NSW.