AMID the usual debates about mining it can be easy to forget the real people throughout the Hunter Valley – the local miners, their families and those working in associated small businesses – that rely on mining to provide local jobs and deliver economic stability.
There are over 12,600 people working directly in mining in the Hunter. When those working in associated industries that do business with mining companies are taken into account, 71,700 Hunter locals have at least some reliance on mining for their livelihood. Mining is an integral part of the Hunter, and has been for over 200 years.
The NSW Minerals Council this week released its annual economic impact study into what mining actually delivers for the Hunter and NSW.
The report shows how the benefits of mining in the Hunter extend well beyond the mining sector itself and across communities up and down the valley.
Mining companies spent $1.7billion in wages for local employees and $4.6billion in the Hunter last year with almost 5000 local businesses that supplied goods or services to mining operations.
This direct spending with these businesses in turn supported thousands of other businesses and jobs throughout the Hunter in a wide range of industries, from manufacturing and engineering to retail and hospitality.
It is estimated that the total of $6.3billion in direct mining spending in the Hunter generated around one-third of all economic activity in the region in 2012-13.
This is a big contribution, and with it comes big responsibilities.
Most Hunter miners live and raise a family in the communities near where mining takes place.
They understand the need to support the community organisations that play such an important role in the life of Hunter towns.
Our latest economic impact study found that in 2012-13, local mining companies voluntarily contributed over $8million to 449 community groups and charities across the Hunter community. The average contribution to each community group was nearly $18,000.
This support has also been provided at a time when the industry is doing it tough and things are tight. A high Australian dollar, a fall in commodity prices and uncertainty with regard to NSW planning legislation has seen over 3000 jobs lost in coalmining in NSW over the last 12 months.
NSW Mining also supports other services vital to the Hunter. For example, in 2012 the NSW Minerals Council extended its 30-year commitment to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service for another three years with a contribution of $270,000.
Our long-term relationship with this life saving community service is important to us, too.
Hunter miners are determined to be good citizens of their local communities. We are proud of the Hunter and the contribution we make here, and we want the Hunter to be proud of us too.
Stephen Galilee is the chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council.