MEDIA RELEASE Friday, 15 June 2012

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1 SOUTH AUSTRALIAN C E N T R E F O R E C O N O M I C S T U D I E S ADELAIDE & FLINDERS UNIVERSITIES MEDIA RELEASE Friday, 15 June 2012 EMBARGOED until 12.01am, Monday, 18 th June 2012 South Australia is Not Experiencing a Mining Boom The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies claims that the State is not experiencing a mining boom and warns against resting all our hopes for the future prosperity of South Australia on the realisation of a mining boom. The comments are made in the Centre s latest Economic Briefing Report, released today. The Report provides a twice yearly appraisal of the state of the South Australian economy and is prepared by economists from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. In the report the Centre suggests that while mining activity has grown strongly in South Australia over recent years... it is nevertheless difficult to sustain the notion that South Australia is in the middle of a mining boom. In support of this conclusion, the report notes that... mining activity in South Australia is still relatively small, such that mining output... accounts for around only 4 per cent of the State s Gross Product. Other evidence to support the argument that South Australia is not yet experiencing a mining boom include the fact that new capital expenditure by the mining industry in South Australia was less last year than it was four years ago; while expenditure on mineral exploration in South Australia in 2011 accounted for only 6.6 per cent of such expenditure across Australia as a whole. The Centre notes that the one project which would dramatically change this picture of a still small mining sector in this State is the proposed expansion by BHP Billiton of its Olympic Dam mine. The cost of this project is estimated to exceed $20 billion. If this project were given the go ahead today it would lift South Australia s share of advanced new mining projects across Australia from 0.5 per cent to around 9 per cent, a dramatic increase, which underlines the sheer size of this project. The report goes on to note, however, that...unfortunately, there is now increasing doubt about when the Olympic Dam project will proceed. The latest statements from BHP Billiton indicate that the BHP Billiton Board will now not give consideration to final approval of the project until later this year. The report also suggests that there are several factors which will limit the contribution the Olympic Dam project will make to the prosperity of the South Australian economy, even once it does proceed. Consequently, the report concludes:... it is important to keep a proper perspective on the extent to which growth of the mining industry will contribute to growth of the South Australian economy in coming years. Its contribution will not be insignificant, particularly once construction of the Olympic Dam expansion proceeds, but at the same time it is Postal: PO Box 3192, Rundle Mall South Australia 5000 Telephone (+61-8) Facsimile (+61-8) Physical: 3 rd Floor, Nexus Tower, 10 Pulteney Street, Adelaide

2 SACES Media Release Page 2 unlikely to be so significant as to be able to solely drive the continued economic expansion and prosperity of the State. And doubts about the timing of the Olympic Dam expansion need to be kept in mind. All it all, it would not be wise for South Australians to rest all of our hopes for the future on the prospects of a mining boom, especially if it meant becoming complacent in achieving policy objectives and outcomes in other strategic areas. In particular, all South Australians need to continue to work towards growing the overall competitiveness of the State and towards growing productivity within the State. It seems to us that still more could be done, and should be done, in this area. ENDS ATTACHMENT for Print Media: South Australia s Mining Sector in Perspective article from the report. MEDIA CONTACTS Associate Professor Michael O Neil Mobile: /Office Executive Director South Australian Centre for Economic Studies Associate Professor Owen Covick Home: (08) Senior Research Associate South Australian Centre for Economic Studies Additional Information The latest SACES Economic Briefing Report (June 2012) will be officially released at a luncheon for Corporate Members of the Centre on Monday 18 th June. Associate Professor Owen Covick will present an overview of the Report s findings from around 12.10pm and will then be available to answer questions from the media from approximately 12.45pm (i.e., following his address). Members of the media are invited to attend his presentation. The venue for the official release will be the Crowne Plaza Adelaide, 16 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide.

3 SACES Media Release Page 3 Focus Article 1: South Australia s Mining Sector in Perspective The South Australian mining sector has recorded a significant expansion over recent years. At the end of 2011 there were 19 major mines in operation or under construction in South Australia, compared to only five major operating mines in Three major mines have been completed in recent months, namely the Ankata copper mine (capital expenditure of $148 million), the Kanmantoo copper mine ($144 million), and the Osborne copper mine ($137 million). 2 In line with the growth in new mines both mining related production and export activity have grown strongly. The volume of resource production in South Australia in 2010/11 was approximately 70 per cent greater than in 2003/04 (as indicated by growth in mining industry value added), while the value of production in nominal price terms increased almost four times over the same period (as suggested by mining industry total factor income) refer Figure 1.1. The stark difference between growth in volume and value mainly reflects the strong rise in commodity prices over this period (as shown by Figure A3 in the appendix to this report). In 2010/11 mining exports rose by 49 per cent compared to the previous year (in nominal terms), to approximately $4 billion, meaning that mining exports in that year accounted for 36 per cent of the State s total international exports. 3 South Australia produces a wide range of minerals, with the main minerals by value Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE), MESA Journal 64, March Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Mining Industry Major Projects, April Mining exports here are classified on an industry of origin basis, rather than an industry of final production. This measure has been developed by SACES, so as to better capture the extent to which mining activity is contributing to South Australia s overall international export growth. being copper (43 per cent of total production in 2010/11), iron ore (16 per cent), gold (11 per cent), and petroleum products (15 per cent). However, and notwithstanding the strong growth in mining industry activity in South Australia in recent years, it is nevertheless difficult to sustain the notion that South Australia is in the middle of a mining boom. Similarly, it is also difficult to accept that growth of the mining industry will be sufficient in the immediate future to secure the on-going prosperity of the State. Yet this seems to be the position adopted by some policy makers and policy advisers within the State. The reality is that mining activity in South Australia is still relatively small, such that mining output in South Australia accounts for around only 4 per cent of the State s Gross Product. While this is up from only 3 per cent a few years ago, it is still only a fraction of the contribution that the mining sector makes to the Western Australia and Queensland economies as is illustrated by Figure 1.2. More than this, the level of private new capital expenditure by the mining industry in South Australia in the twelve months to March 2012 (the latest period for which data is available) was less than that which occurred in 2008 and 2009, although up a little on capital expenditure in the previous twelve months (i.e., to March 2011) refer to Figure A23 in the appendix to this report. In addition, while expenditure on mineral exploration in South Australia more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010, it remains a small percentage of total mineral exploration expenditure across Australia as a whole, at around 6.6 per cent in 2011 again, refer to graph in the appendix (Figure A22).

4 Percentage Percentage SACES Media Release Page 4 Figure 1.1 Mining Industry Measures South Australia $m 4,500 4,000 3,500 3,000 Gross Value Added as % Australia Mining Industry Value Added ,500 2,000 Real Gross Value Added ($m) ,500 1, Total Factor Income ($m) Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Accounts, State Accounts: Figure 1.2 Mining Industry Value Added by State Australian States Percentage of Gross State Product Western Australia Victoria Queensland New South Wales South Australia Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Accounts, State Accounts: Data on advanced new mining projects published by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) indicates that South Australian based new mining projects account for only 0.5 per cent of the total value of advanced projects in Australia refer Table 1.1. Looking further ahead, at less advanced projects, only 16 out of 295 projects are in South Australia again, refer Table 1.1. BHP Billiton s $20+ billion expansion of the Olympic Dam mine is not yet included in BREE s list of advanced new mining projects, as it has not yet been given final approval by BHP Billiton s Board. The proposed expansion of Olympic Dam is, of course, a massive project and its go-ahead would significantly alter the picture of mining activity in the State. For example, if we assume that the project will require

5 SACES Media Release Page 5 Table 1.1 Projects in the Pipeline, Australian States as at April 2012 NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS NT AUS Advanced Projects (a) Total Cost ($ billion) Number Energy Projects Minerals Projects Infrastructure Projects Minerals/Energy Processing Total Less Advanced Projects (b) Number Energy Projects Minerals Projects Infrastructure Projects Minerals & Energy Processing Total Note: (a) Projects either 'committed' or 'under construction'. These projects have received all government and internal company approvals and have announced their intention to proceed with the project (b) Projects either undergoing feasibility or pre-feasibility studies, awaiting the outcome of government approval process or have not been subject to a final investment decision. Source: BREE, Mining Industry Major Projects: around $25 billion of capital expenditure in today s dollars 4, then if it were given the go-ahead today South Australia s share of advanced new mining projects would immediately jump from around 0.5 per cent to around 9 per cent. A rough back of the envelope calculation suggests that this one project alone could see mining s contribution to South Australia s Gross State Product (GSP) increase from around 4 per cent currently to around 10 per cent within the next 10 to 12 years (i.e., if construction were to proceed within the next eighteen months or so). Although a more sophisticated calculation would likely find that the net impact of the project on the State will be less than this, since it is unclear how much of the income generated by the project will accrue to the State. The two main ways in which income will accrue to the State are through the employment which the project will generate, both directly and indirectly, and 4 BHP Billiton has not yet announced an estimated cost of the project, but mining analysts have calculated a cost in excess of $20 billion. through the additional royalties which will need to be paid by BHP Billiton to the State Government. The level of direct employment expected to be generated by the project is significant, but not huge, relative to South Australia s total labour force (which is currently around 865,000 people). In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (2009) BHP Billiton estimated that the peak additional labour required would be around 9,000 people (in year 6 of the construction phase). This would fall to around an on-going 4,000 people per year for operation of the expanded mine, once construction of the mine and its associated infrastructure was complete. If we assume, for the sake of illustration, that the average cost of employing each of these people is around $100,000 per year, then this additional direct employment alone would add around one per cent to the State s GSP during the construction phase (9,000 additional employment per year), and around 0.5 per cent to the State s GSP in the full operational phase (4,000 per annum on-going additional employment). These are not insignificant amounts.

6 SACES Media Release Page 6 The other main way in which the project will deliver a benefit to the State is through the additional royalties that would be paid. BHP Billiton has estimated that upon completion of the expansion program the royalties it pays to the State would be more than four times the royalties it currently pays. That is, royalties would increase from around $60 million per annum currently, to more than $240 million per annum. Of course, the final amount of royalties paid will depend not only on the amount of minerals recovered, but also upon the royalty arrangements put in place by the State Government. As significant as the Olympic Dam expansion project is, there are a few other qualifications to make in respect of its likely impact on the State s economy and to put the so-called South Australian mining boom in perspective. First, it should be noted that the proposed expansion would be a progressive development, with construction activity planned to take place over at least a 10 year period. What this means, of course, is that the full benefits of the project will not be delivered to South Australia in one massive hit, but rather will accrue over a number of years. The fact that it will accrue over a number of years, with the 10 year construction phase leading to a fully operating mine which could have a life well in excess of 30 years, is a good thing for South Australia. But it also means that the project will not transform the South Australian economy overnight. Second, not all of the income generated by the project will flow to South Australia. There will be significant leakages in the form of work undertaken outside the State (e.g., planning, administration, professional services, etc), for the purchase of specialised equipment and materials not manufactured in South Australia, and in the form of profits from the project, which will be distributed to shareholders around the world. Third, Australia s system of horizontal fiscal equalisation will also lessen to a degree the net contribution of new mining industry activity to South Australia s overall economic growth. This is because increases in mining royalties received by the South Australian government will be offset to a degree by a lesser share than would otherwise have been the case of GST revenues collected by the Federal Government. Fourth, the prospects for a mining boom in South Australia needs to be considered (or perhaps re-considered) in light of recent developments in the world economy and, perhaps more significantly, in light of the massive amount of new mining development that is already occurring throughout the world. Weaker world economic growth, led by slowing economic growth in the Euro-zone area, but now being reinforced by slower economic growth in Asia and still weak economic growth in the USA, has seen slower growth in demand for mineral commodities and, as a consequence, a weakening of commodity prices. While world economic growth will eventually rebound it is not at all clear, however, that mineral commodity prices will similarly rebound. To the contrary, the expectation of most commentators is that prices will continue to decline. This is because there has been a massive global supply response to the earlier very strong rise in commodity prices (refer to Figure A3 in the appendix). There are now a very large number of major new mining projects under way around the world, meaning a significant increase in the international supply of minerals over coming years. This will reduce international mineral prices and lessen the opportunity for further new mining developments in South Australia and Australia. One indication of the extent to which new mining developments are occurring elsewhere in the world is provided by the fact that Australia s global share of the capital raised for mining projects fell from

7 SACES Media Release Page 7 21 per cent in 2008 to 15 per cent in And it should be noted that this occurred despite the massive increase in new capital expenditure on mining projects in Australia over this period! This brings us to the fifth and final cautionary point which must be made in respect of whether or when South Australia will experience a mining boom. To date the strong growth in mining sector activity in South Australia is just that, strong growth. It seems to us that South Australia can only truly be said to be experiencing a mining boom when the massive Olympic Dam expansion project proceeds (or if some other similarly significant project (or projects) come along). Unfortunately, there is now increasing doubt about when the Olympic Dam project may proceed. The decision in respect of final approval of the project is now not expected to be made by the BHP Board until towards the end of the year. From South Australia s perspective the danger is that in light of the weakening world economic situation and the likelihood of further sustained falls in commodity prices, the decision will again be deferred. of a mining boom, especially if it means becoming complacent in achieving policy objectives and outcomes in other strategic areas. In particular, all South Australians need to continue to work towards increasing the overall competitiveness of the State and towards increasing productivity within the State. It seems to us that still more could be done, and should be done, in this area. The bottom line for South Australia of all of the above is that it is important to keep a proper perspective on the extent to which growth of the mining industry will contribute to growth of the South Australian economy in coming years. Its contribution will not be insignificant, particularly once construction of the Olympic Dam expansion proceeds, but at the same time it is unlikely to be so significant as to be able to solely drive the continued economic expansion and prosperity of the State. And doubts about the timing of the Olympic Dam expansion need to be kept in mind. All it all, it would not be wise for South Australians to rest all of our hopes for the future on the prospects 5 Research by Intierra Pty Ltd and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, as quoted in The Australian 12 March 2012.

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