What the recent mining resurgence means for jobs in Sydney and beyond.
In what feels like the blink of an eye, the price of coal appears to have doubled. Following an agreement made with Japanese steel makers, over the next three months, the price of coking coal is set to jump 117 per cent.
What this means, is Australian coking coal will be sold for $US200 per tonne over the next three months, compared with $US81 per tonne in the March quarter, reports the AFR.
For the economy, the news is all good. HSBC predicts it will boost the GDP by 2 per cent, reports SMH. Access Economics says for every $US1 the price rockets, the budget deficit will improve $65 million. If the price remains strong, a boost of $7 billion per year is estimated.
China’s demand for steel (produced by coking coal and iron ore) is said to be responsible for the price push, as are changes to the nation’s industrial sector.
This, of course, produces a tug of war with our currency with the mining companies keen to keep the Aussie dollar low to retain interest whilst our heavy industry and manufacturing firms looking for better returns on their products.
So what does this mean for the mining industry? And more widely, how will it affect jobs around the country?
The move will undoubtedly have significant impact on jobs all across the board. And it is something that we’ve seen in the past already with the mining industry.
In the last three or four years the mining industry has slumped as a direct result of China’s economic woes. What we have seen with this is a lot of highly skilled workers who initially moved across the country to chase the mining boom, returning. These workers, who often started their career in commercial, industrial or even residential construction, have returned to jobs in their sector of origin.
In particular, workers are returning to the country’s major cities. This has essentially plugged a potential employment gap in our state capitals.
What the recent price shifts in coking coal mean, is that this trend is likely to swing back into the direction of mining. As the opportunities open up in the mines again, we will see many leave like before, and a rise in the demand for skilled construction workers in Sydney.
Sydney itself is booming, with a plethora of projects on the horizon and many already under development. At the moment what we’re seeing is a lot of work especially in civil infrastructure. We’ve got big rail-links, road updates, vast numbers of multi-residential projects in our inner city and fringes, and entire areas of redevelopment. This looks to continue into the next decade; with the 2030 plans for Sydney Olympic Park. The continued and increased demand for highly skilled construction workers in Sydney is inevitable.