... consistent with the the national approach to economic, environmental and social stewardship.










Global coal boom to continue, says Minerals Council of Australia









Submission on Victoria’s Renewable Energy Roadmap


Review of research policy and funding arrangements for higher education



Minerals Council of Australia Opening statement to Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport L




Land access

Guide for Private Landowners regarding Exploration and Mining on Private Land:

A cooperative approach to land access considerations between the MCA and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has over the years established good practice guidelines.  It is accepted that the first approach to a landowner should be in person at the landowner’s front door, where the project can be explained and the intentions of the explorer discussed.  Other jurisdictions require a written letter to precede the home visit which immediately may set a negative environment from the outset.

MCA and the VFF first prepared a guide for private landowners regarding exploration and mining on private land in 2000.  This has been updated a couple of times and is co-signed by the President of the VFF and the Chair of the Victorian State Council of the MCA.  The current edition was produced in 2008 and can be downloaded via the link below.


Download the guide


Review of Australia’s research training system

China FTA – Labor Must Put Australia First



Coal Hard Facts - 2nd Edition

China-Australia FTA great for Australian jobs, industry groups say


Uranium in Australia - An evolving socio-political landscape

SA’s Uranium Industry Potential

Australia Uranium - A Natural Competitive Advantage

Changing attitudes towards uranium in Australia

Submission to the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry (reopened)

How green groups are sabotaging the mining industry


The green activist strategy for stopping mining projects: Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom


Tax Facts

Comment on draft information guidelines for advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee

Australian Uranium Sector Welcomes Re-start of Japanese Nuclear Reactor



Indigenous economic development

The minerals industry has been a major catalyst for Indigenous economic development.  In the Boyer Lectures of 2012, Professor Marcia Langton observed that:

The Mabo case, the Native Title Act and engagement with the mining industry have changed the assumptions of that (welfare dependent) paradigm and catapulted Aboriginal people engaged in the mining industry into the mainstream economy. I have worked at mine sites and witnessed this extraordinary change…Mining offers many Indigenous populations a significant source of employment and contracting opportunities, as well as an alternative to the welfare transfers upon which many remote and regional Aboriginal communities depend.(1)


More than 60 per cent of minerals operations in Australia neighbour Indigenous communities.  Much of the land on which the industry seeks to operate is subject to legal requirements under the Native Title Act or the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, as well as state and federal heritage requirements, all of which recognise the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in relation to lands and waters. 

On areas of land for which there is a weak or absent suite of legal rights for Aboriginal communities, the industry has tended to negotiate with these communities ‘as if’ they held a suite of legal rights, thereby recognising their historical and cultural connections.

The industry’s long-standing approach has stressed that the communities most impacted by mining operations should also be the ones that benefit most from the conversion of natural resources into societal capital.  This demonstrates the opportunity that exists for communities to leverage the economic activity associated with mineral wealth to drive their social and economic futures.

The process within the minerals industry of negotiating over 1,984 land use agreements (99 per cent of which involved no legal contest of rights) has provided unprecedented wealth creation opportunities for Indigenous peoples in regional and remote Australia.(2)

The total value of native title related payments in 2011-12 alone was $3 billion, which includes land access related payments, mining royalty equivalents, heritage payments, and impact benefit agreement payments.(3) Preliminary evidence suggests that Indigenous communities now own up to $40 billion in assets in total from agreement-making.(4)

Corporate social partnerships

The mining industry’s community partnerships are underscored by its support to close the gap. The mining industry works with regional and remote communities across Australia, and the Commonwealth and state governments to catalyse community enterprise and employment collaboration and opportunities. The Commonwealth - MCA ten year (2005-15) MoU successfully demonstrates a significant partnership resulting in a number of community project successes designed and driven locally.

Initiatives established under the MoU included: mentoring services for career pathways for local employment; a business hub to connect mining companies to Indigenous suppliers; careers fair days including pre-qualification assistance delivered in remote areas; and an award winning community survey identifying socio-economic needs designed and managed by a local women’s group. These initiatives highlight the power of community programs that the mining industry invests in to facilitate sustainable community development.(5)


The minerals industry’s commitment to local community growth is evident in its procurement of Indigenous businesses. During the mining boom of 2004, more than 150 businesses were established in the mining supply chain in the Pilbara alone. Since then, procurement opportunities have expanded with the industry (sample of 25 companies) investing $2.2 billion in Indigenous businesses in 2012-13.

The industry’s leadership in procurement has been recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Mick Gooda, who noted that ‘you’ve got mining companies leading the way’.(6)


The minerals industry is the most significant industry generating Indigenous employment opportunities in regional and remote areas of Australia.(7) In the past 20 years, employment of Indigenous Australians in the minerals industry has increased from 0.5 per cent to a national average of 6 per cent.(8)  In addition, 19 per cent of the Indigenous workers in the minerals industry are women, compared with 13 per cent for women generally within the minerals industry workforce.(9)

Importantly, research by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy found that Indigenous employment of both men and women in mining in regional communities doubled from 2006-11.(10) At some mine sites Indigenous workers account for up to 40 per cent of those directly and indirectly employed, with many sites aiming to achieve the same proportion of Indigenous men and women in their workforce as are present in their local community.

While there continues to be a commitment to directly employing Indigenous people, the minerals industry is also actively seeking to:

Develop retention and career pathway strategies for current Indigenous employees
Ensure subcontractors employ Indigenous peoples
Support the development of local Indigenous businesses.
Facilitate the establishment of new industries in regional and remote areas which will employ Indigenous people.

Media releases

25 Feb 2015 New Publication: From Conflict to Co-Operation

23 Sep 2014 Indigenous Businesses Development - More Than Just a Good Idea

4 Aug 2014 Minerals Industry Welcomes Forrest Review of Indigenous Training and Employment

Reports and submissions

25 Feb 2015 From Conflict to Co-operation by Professor Marcia Langton

23 Sep 2014 Getting It Right – Indigenous Success in the Resource Sector

19 Sep 2014 Submission to the Forrest Review – Creating Parity

(1) Langton M (2012), The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom (Harper Collins, Australia)
(2) Bauman T and Glick L (eds) (2012), The Limits of Change: Mabo and Native Title 20 Years On (AIATSIS, Canberra)
(3) Banarra (2013), The Value of Community Contributions in the Australian Minerals Industry: A Report to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA, Canberra) (Figure derived from a sample of MCA Member audited accounts, 2011-12)
(4) Rose S (2013) , ‘Indigenous Groups’ Assets Opportunity for Wealth Advisers’ , Australian Financial Review, June 2013
(5) Minerals Council of Australia (2005) Memorandum of Understanding on Indigenous Employment and Enterprise Development Between the Australian Government and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA, Canberra)
(6) Burrell M (2014), ‘Marcia Langton Lashes out at Future Fund Silence’, The Australian, 2 December 2014.
(7) Business Council of Australia (2014), 2014 Indigenous Engagement Survey Report (BCA, Canberra)
(8) Gray M, Hunter B and Howlett M (2014), The Economic Impact of the Mining Boom on Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, CAEPR Working Paper No 39/2014, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (ANU, Canberra)
(9) ABS, Australian Social Trends, Cat. 4102.0, May 2014.
(10) Langton M (2015), From Conflict to Cooperation – Transformations and Challenges in the Engagement of the Australian Minerals Industry and Australian Indigenous Peoples (MCA, Canberra)

Regulation & infrastructure

Regulatory reform

As a ‘price taker’ in global markets, the minerals industry has a vital interest in efficient, stable and risk-based regulatory systems that meet policy objectives without imposing unnecessary cost burdens. The industry supports the principle of ‘minimum effective regulation’, whereby regulation can both meet its policy objectives and do so at least cost.

Across all stages of activity – from grant of tenure, exploration, extraction, processing, transport and mine closure through the relinquishment of tenure – the minerals industry is subject to more regulatory requirements than most other industries. The industry’s capacity to grow and to be competitive is also shaped by regulation across the broader economy in such areas as energy and water markets, business services and labour markets.

The MCA in 2014 released a comprehensive review of the minerals industry’s priorities for regulatory reform. It outlined 12 priority areas:

  1. Environmental approvals – “One-stop shop” reforms would make project approval processes more efficient without compromising environmental outcomes. Further steps can be taken to integrate Commonwealth and State/Territory environmental approval processes using existing provisions of the EPBC Act.
  2. Workplace relations – Significant reforms to the Fair Work Act are needed to better align workplace incentives with enterprise flexibility and improved productivity.
  3. Coastal shipping – The anti-competitive Coastal Trading Act should be repealed and replaced by new legislative provisions to ‘open the coast’.
  4. Local content reporting – The Australian Jobs Act 2013, based on the false premise that bureaucratic intervention in company purchasing decisions is the way to support Australian jobs, should be repealed. Australian Industry Participation plans are a regulatory solution in search of a problem.
  5. Energy and climate change – The Renewable Energy Target is a costly form of industry assistance and an inefficient means of achieving emissions abatement. Duplicative energy reporting requirements can be further streamlined.
  6. Business taxation – The forthcoming White Paper on tax reform is an opportunity to improve consultation and the administration of Australia’s complex business tax system.
  7. Skilled migration – Labour market testing imposes unnecessary costs on business. Engineering professions in particular should not be targeted.
  8. Indigenous economic development – The Aboriginal Lands Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 requires systemic review. By contrast, the Native Title Act 1993 has experienced a high level of legislative and regulatory churn and a degree of stability would aid stakeholder confidence.
  9. Water access – Clause 34 of the National Water Initiative, which recognises the unique nature of water use in the minerals industry, should be formalised and integrated with water sharing plans and other water market mechanisms. The ‘water trigger’ for coal seam gas and coal projects in the EPBC Act should be removed.
  10. Occupational health and safety – Consistent implementation of the Model Work, Health and Safety regime is unfinished business.
  11. Exploration – Governments should work to increase the transparency of regulatory decisions, improve target time-frames, develop appropriate accreditation of State/Territory Indigenous heritage protection regimes and ensure regulatory agencies develop least cost, risk-based measures affecting exploration activity.
  12. Uranium – The regulatory framework for uranium mining in Australia can be improved without any diminution of scrutiny or safeguards. For example, the EPBC Act should be amended to remove uranium mining, milling, decommissioning and rehabilitation from the definition of ‘nuclear action.

The MCA also recommends the Australian Government establishes a systematic, regular program of benchmarking the nation’s policies and performance in key areas – including health and education, energy, transport, telecommunications, taxation and trade and investment.


Timely and cost-effective provision of economic and social infrastructure is needed to underpin industry competitiveness and growth.

  • Governments have a responsibility to foster open, transparent and competitive infrastructure markets while also being alert to how differing industry characteristics can give rise to specific regulatory challenges
  • The MCA recommends that in tandem with the Australian Government’s asset recycling program there needs to be consideration as to whether existing regulatory arrangements are appropriate to ensure efficient provision of infrastructure services by the private sector
  • Governments at all levels face important social infrastructure responsibilities in regional and remote Australia.  The White Paper on Developing Northern Australia provides an opportunity to trial new and innovative approaches to the provision of infrastructure services.
Media releases on regulatory and infrastructure issues

18 Jun 2015 Release of the Northern Australia White Paper

5 Jun 2015 The Pilbara rivals the Snowy River as an engineering icon

27 Feb 2015 Global Survey Underlines the Need to Reverse Australia’s Decline as Investment Destination

24 Feb 2015 MCA Pre-Budget Submission urges repair and reform

Reports and submissions on regulatory and infrastructure issues

20 July 2015 Submission to the 2015 Draft Report of the Tarcoola-Darwin Railway: 10 Year Review

14 Jul 2015 Inquiry into the Planning and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Bill 2015

30 Mar 2015 Comments on the Proposed Victorian Planning and Environment Regulations 2015

Employment & skills

The minerals industry workforce

The minerals industry directly employs more than 200,000 highly skilled, highly paid workers across Australia.  In the decade to 2013-14, the industry experienced among the fastest rates of job growth of all industries.  Though employment is down from peak levels of mid-2012, it remains 15 per cent above the average of the past decade.  The majority of the industry workforce (about 70 per cent) is employed in large enterprises (i.e. those that employ 200 workers or more).  Almost all mining jobs are full-time jobs (97 per cent), the largest proportion of all industries.(1)

Mining produces more gross value added per unit of labour than any other industry in Australia – almost double the second highest industry (the finance sector).  Mining generates around $515,000 for the economy for every worker employed.  Average wages in mining are much higher than in most other industries.  Average (full-time) adult total earnings were $2,569 per week in November 2014, 67 per cent higher than the all industries average.(2)

Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales account for 85 per cent of national employment in mining.  Mining employment is critically important to many regional and remote communities in Australia, with 61 per cent of industry employment in regional and remote areas, compared with 37 per cent for all industries.  Mining accounts for up to 50 per cent of employment in some regional centres.(3)

The minerals industry is also the largest private sector employer of Indigenous Australians with more than six per cent of the industry’s workforce identifying as Indigenous, up from an average of less than one per cent 20 years ago.(4)  At some mining sites, Indigenous workers account for up to 40 per cent of those directly and indirectly employed. MCA member companies have developed a range of strategies aimed at retention and career development for Indigenous employees.

MCA member companies are also focused on improving the gender balance in the industry’s workforce.  Active strategies to reduce structural and cultural barriers that have limited female participation in the industry’s workforce have seen the employment share of female workers increase to around 15 per cent in 2013, from an estimated 9 per cent in 1999, with some MCA member companies achieving to 25 per cent female workforce participation at certain sites.(5)


A productive workforce needs to be a skilled workforce. The MCA advocates building an uninterrupted, sustainable education and training pathway to increase workforce participation, workforce diversity and workforce skills, regardless of the business cycle in the industry.

The MCA continues to develop and implement national strategies to ensure the adequate supply of skills to the industry and to increase minerals industry labour productivity by:

  • Advocating public policy and institutional capacity building for improved delivery in the tertiary education sector — both the university sector and the vocational education and training sector (VET) — in minerals industry related areas
  • Working with industry and government to build an outputs-based model of VET quality
  • Advocating diverse training opportunities in the minerals sector that suit business and workforce needs, including advanced adult apprenticeships
  • Supporting programs that build a gender and culturally diverse workforce aligned to business needs
  • Demonstrating the extensive education and training (including privately-funded training) undertaken by the minerals industry
  • Providing a definitive national reference point for industry career and employment information
  • Improving community and stakeholder access to information on industry career opportunities and education and training pathways.
  • Along with building industry capacity, there is a need to reduce third-party intervention in minerals sector workplaces. Over the past two decades, direct employer-employee relationships have provided the foundation for the industry’s capacity to meet changing market conditions, with benefits to individuals and communities alike. Against this backdrop, the MCA is:
  • Highlighting the value of a range of work arrangements that suit business and workforce needs, including fly-in, fly-out (FIFO)
  • Supporting the retention of an uncapped temporary skilled migration scheme (457 visas) and reform to the Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) scheme to support long-term growth in the industry
  • Supporting reform of the Fair Work Act to ensure Australian workplace laws support flexibility, choice and direct relationships.

Media releases

4 Aug 2015 Time for Serious Debate on Workplace Relations

22 Jul 2015 China Australia Free Trade Agreement: CFMEU Campaign

2 Jun 2015 MCA, BHP Billiton and Downer Award Scholarships to Boost Female Participation in Mining

21 Apr 2015 MCA welcomes “New Arrangements for Training Product Development for Australian Industry”

21 Nov 2014 Minerals Industry's Universities Program Wins Top National Award

Reports and submissions

30 Jun 2015 MTEC Key Performance Measures Report 2015

19 Jun 2015 Submission on the Productivity Commission's Issues Paper 'Migrant Intake into Australia'

15 Apr 2015 Victorian VET Funding Review Submission

27 Mar 2015 Submission to Productivity Commission Inquiry: Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework

4 Mar 2015 Review of Training Packages – Resources and Infrastructure Industry Response

29 Jan 2015 Department of Immigration and Border Protection Visa Review

31 Jul 2014 Submission to Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Innovation System

27 Feb 2014 Parental Leave Toolkit

Mar 2014 MCA Gender Diversity White Paper: Summary document

Jun 2013 MCA Gender Diversity White Paper

(1) Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), National Workforce Development Strategy – Mining, Australian Government, 2013.  Throughout this submission, references to ‘mining’ for statistical purposes will in many cases include oil and gas extraction, in line with industry-wide data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(2) Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), Resources and Energy Quarterly, September Quarter 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS),  Average weekly earnings, ABS Cat. No. 6302.0.
(3) AWPA, Resource sector skills needs 2013, Australian Government 2013.
(4) B. Hunter, M. Howlett and M. Gray, The Economic Impact of the Mining Boom on Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, CAEPR, Working Paper 93, 2014.
(5) AWPA, Resource sector skills needs 2013, Australian Government, 2013.

Energy & climate change

The importance of access to reliable, affordable energy

Access to low cost, reliable energy, a traditional source of economic strength for Australia and should remain a national priority. 

  • Until the repeal of the carbon tax last year Australian exporting and import-competing companies faced average electricity costs up to 130 per cent higher than those prevailing in other advanced economies
  • While the abolition of the carbon tax was a major step forward, further reform of national energy markets and the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is urgently required, with the RET adding between 9-15 per cent to the energy costs of average mining operations
  • Barriers to resource access have further distorted emerging east coast gas markets.  Reservation policies on the west coast discourage long-term investment.  A lack of investment also hampers the smooth operation of the Northern Territory’s domestic market.
Climate policy should support industry competitiveness

Australia has been wrongly cast, both in Australia and abroad, as a laggard in efforts to slow the growth of greenhouse emissions. 

  • Australia was one of the few nations that fully met (or exceeded) its obligations under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
  • Independent research by the world’s most respected economists demonstrates that Australia’s 2020 target represents a fair and equitable contribution to the global emissions reduction effort.

The minerals industry acknowledges that sustained global action is required to reduce the scale of human induced climate change.

The minerals sector statement of principles on climate change policy call for a measured transition to a low emissions global economy will require the alignment of three key policy pillars:

  • A global agreement for greenhouse gas emission abatement that includes emissions reduction commitments from all major emitting nations
  • Market-based policy measures that promote the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost, while minimising adverse social and economic impacts, including on the competitiveness of the internationally traded sector
  • Substantial investment in a broad range of low emissions technologies and adaptation measures.
Low emissions and coal use are not mutually exclusive

Gains in technology are dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of coal-fired generation technology. 

  • High efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal-fired generators emit 20-25 per cent less CO2 than the average of existing power stations and up to 40 per cent less than the oldest technology in place
  • 90 per cent reduction in emissions can be achieved with carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • The Australian coal industry has so far committed $300 million under the COAL21 Fund to a portfolio of projects covering geological storage, methane abatement in coal mines and research, development and demonstration of CO2 capture as a contribution to the international effort.
The role for Australian coal and uranium in meeting energy security needs

Australia is a premier supplier of energy minerals to rapidly growing developing countries, particularly in the Asian region.

  • Between 1990 and 2010, about 830 million people – the vast majority in developing countries – gained access to electricity due to coal
  • Twice as many people gained electricity from coal as natural gas and for every person who obtained electricity from non-hydro renewable sources such as wind and solar, about 13 gained access due to coal
  • The International Energy Agency projects that the global coal trade will grow by 40 per cent by 2040, with Australia providing 40 per cent of that growth in coal demand
  • The outlook for uranium is also strong, with use expected to grow by 90 per cent by 2040

Australian uranium generated export earnings exceeding $800 million in 2012-13 with the potential for substantial further growth as demand for low emissions base load electricity increases in highly populated energy scarce countries like China and India.

Media releases

22 Jul 2015 2030 Renewable Energy Target Will Harm Australia’s Competitiveness

9 Jun 2015 G7 Statement on Climate Change, Energy and Environment

1 Jun 2015 Coal to Play Pivotal Role in India's Economic Expansion

28 Apr 2015 First Uranium Project Approval from Abbott Government

22 Apr 2015 Climate Authority Targets Fail Common sense Test

8 Apr 2015 Energy White Paper – Right Direction But Gaps between Theory and Practice

Reports and submissions

28 Jul 2015 Delivering a low emissions coal future

18 Jun 2015 Even if users agreed to pay much higher electricity bills, SA could not be 100 per cent renewable

16 Jun 2015 Future prospects and opportunities for uranium mining in Australia

15 Jun 2015 Coal: The hard facts

9 Jun 2015 Uranium in Australia – an evolving socio-political landscape

28 Apr 2015 Medium Term Emissions Reduction Target: Minerals Council of Australia Submission

13 Apr 2015 Uranium: Australia’s Next Billion Dollar Industry 


The minerals industry makes a very large tax contribution in Australia. Over the past decade, it has been a major source of growth, investment, jobs and higher living standards, as well as a large contributor to government revenues.

Deloitte Access Economics estimates that the minerals industry’s contributed $156 billion in company tax and royalties to Australian government’s between 2004-05 and 2013-14. The industry’s contribution to government revenues rose around fourfold since the start of the mining boom.

The overall tax burden on mining projects is a key factor influencing investment decisions.  Mining projects are highly capital intensive with considerable, high-risk exploration outlays, large upfront capital commitments, long-life assets, sophisticated technologies and long lead times to profitability. Securing the benefits of Australia’s comparative advantage in mineral resources requires stable and globally competitive tax arrangements.

Australia is a relatively high tax mining jurisdiction. Mining tax ratios are at or near longer term highs, while official company tax data show mining to be among the highest taxed industries in Australia.

Deloitte Access Economics calculates a mining tax ratio (combining company tax and royalties as a share of taxable income) of 53 per cent in 2012-13, above the average of 51 per cent since the turn of the century.  Estimated mining tax ratios have risen sharply in Australia as commodity prices have fallen and states have increased royalty rates. 

A 2013 study by Goldman Sachs found that the tax take from Australian mining companies is within the top 25 per cent of mining jurisdictions. Major resource-rich competitors like Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, Peru and South Africa – as well as large producers such as China and the United States – all have lower tax rates on mining.

Company tax data from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) confirms that mining (including oil and gas) is among the highest taxed industries in Australia.  ATO data shows mining paid $13.6 billion in company tax alone in 2012-13 - 21 per cent of all company tax in Australia.  After refunds and credits, the net corporate tax rate on mining has been consistently above the average of total industries. Professor Sinclair Davidson of RMIT has shown that over the decade to 2012-13 (the last year of official data), the average effective company tax rate for mining (net corporate tax as a percentage of taxable income) has remained above the average of all industries, plus one standard deviation.

Professor Davidson concludes that ‘the mining industry pays a substantial sum of money in corporate taxation and pays at a rate of close to 30 per cent of its taxable income’.

Media releases on tax issues

24 Jun 2015 Minerals sector subsidy free: Productivity Commission

12 May 2015 2015-16 Budget: Minerals Council of Australia

12 May 2015 Mining and corporate tax: the official evidence

29 Apr 2015 ACF report hits at regional Australia

Recent tax reports and submissions

16 Jun 2015 Submission on the Australian government’s tax discussion paper

12 May 2015 Official evidence on mining taxes: 2015 update a background paper produced for the MCA by Sinclair Davidson

26 Mar 2015 Mining tax ratios revisited a public policy monograph produced for the MCA by Chris Richardson

18 Mar 2015 Powering regional Australia: the case for fuel tax credits published by the Fuel Tax Coalition

2 Feb 2015 Submission to the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into corporate tax avoidance

16 Dec 2014 Minerals industry tax survey 2014 produced for the MCA by Deloitte Access Economics

­Trade & investment

Australia’s openness to trade and investment allows it to maximise its comparative advantages, including in minerals.  In 2013-14, mineral commodities accounted for 48 per cent of Australia’s exports of goods and services exports.

Major export earners in 2013-14 were:

  • Iron ore ($74.7 billion)
  • Coal ($40.0 billion)
  • Gold ($13.0 billion)
  • Aluminium ores and concentrates, including alumina ($6.3 billion)
  • Copper ($5.2 billion).

Australia’s Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and South Korea mark a new phase in Australia’s integration with three North Asian economic powerhouses.  They reinforce minerals trade worth approximately $120 billion a year to Australia.

China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

China is Australia’s largest export market, worth $108 billion in 2013-14 – almost one-third of Australia’s total exports.(1) Exports of minerals account for nearly three-quarters of this total ($80 billion) with iron ore alone accounting for more than half ($57 billion).  China is Australia’s most important market for iron ore.(2)

Once in force, ChAFTA will eliminate tariffs on minerals imports from Australia that are worth around $16 billion annually.  The 3 per cent tariff on metallurgical coal will be removed on the first day of the agreement and the 6 per cent tariff on thermal coal will be removed within two years.(3) This deal is superior to that concluded under the ASEAN-China FTA, which phased out thermal coal tariffs over four years.

ChAFTA will also eliminate tariffs on the following minerals products:

  • Refined copper and alloys (unwrought) (currently subject to 1 and 2 per cent tariffs)
  • Alumina (8 per cent)
  • Nickel mattes and oxides (3 per cent)
  • Unwrought zinc (3 per cent)
  • Copper waste and scrap (1.5 per cent)
  • Unwrought aluminium (5 and 7 per cent tariffs)
  • Aluminium waste and scrap (1.5 per cent)
  • Unwrought nickel (3 per cent)
  • Titanium dioxide (6.5 and 10 per cent tariffs)
  • Other mineral substances (3 and 5 per cent tariffs)

Importantly, ChAFTA will consolidate a growing investment relationship, with the total stock of Chinese foreign investment in Australia at $32 billion in 2013,(4) including substantial investment in the minerals sector.

Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA)

Japan is Australia’s second-largest export market, valued at $51 billion in 2013-14.(5)  More than half of this total ($25.6 billion) consisted of exports of coal, iron ore, aluminium and copper; and more than one-quarter ($13.2 billion) was contributed by coal alone.(6)  Japan is Australia’s biggest coal customer.

JAEPA strengthens the deep and complementary trade and investment relationship between Australia and Japan, by removing tariffs on a number of minerals products over ten years.  These include tariffs on:

  • Metallurgical coal (3.2 per cent)
  • Aluminium hydroxide (3.3 per cent)
  • Titanium dioxide (3.2 per cent)
  • Unwrought nickel (11.7 per cent)
  • Ferro-manganese (6.3 per cent)

Tariffs on the first three of these minerals imports from Australia were removed entirely when JAEPA came into force on 15 January 2015.(7)

Korea-Australia-Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA)

South Korea is Australia’s third-largest export market, worth $22.5 billion in 2013-14.(8) Iron ore and coal are our two largest exports to South Korea, worth $6.1 billion and $5.2 billion (respectively) in the same year.  Total minerals exports to South Korea are valued at around $13 billion.(9)

KAFTA began to benefit the Australian minerals industry from its commencement on 12 December 2014.  While many Australian mineral and energy exports enter South Korea duty free, tariffs of up to 8 per cent are applied to a range of minerals products, including unwrought aluminium, gold, unwrought lead, cobalt mattes and articles, and titanium dioxide.  Under KAFTA, South Korea will remove tariffs on all resource imports from Australia over ten years.  Tariffs on unwrought aluminium (1-3 per cent) and titanium dioxide (6.5 per cent) have already been eliminated.(10)

Media releases

27 July 2015 Delay to Australia's Trade Deal with China Will Impose $110 Million Burden on Coal Export Trade

22 Jul 2015 China Australia Free Trade Agreement: CFMEU Campaign

17 Jun 2015 New MCA Study Supports China Australia Free Trade Agreement

19 Mar 2015 Australia Set to Once Again Be the World’s Largest Coal Exporter

4 Mar 2015 Minerals Exports Continue To Support Australian Economy

Reports and submissions

21 Jul 2015 MCA Opening Statement to the Joint Parliamentary Committee into Free Trade Agreements

17 Jun 2015 China, Minerals and Energy and the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

24 Mar 2015 Climate Policy and Australia's Resources Trade - A New Report

(1) Ibid., p. 41.
(2) Department of Industry, Resources and Energy Quarterly – December Quarter 2014, released on 22 December 2014, Canberra, pp. 67-70
(3) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China-Australia Free Trade Agreement – Key Outcomes, p. 2.
(4) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China Fact Sheet, December 2014.
(5) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Composition of Trade 2013-14, released in December 2014, Canberra, p. 41.
(6) Department of Industry, Resources and Energy Quarterly – December Quarter 2014, released on 22 December 2014, Canberra, pp. 67-70
(7) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement – Key Outcomes, p. 3; Quick guide: Resources, energy and manufacturing.
(8) Ibid., p. 41.
(9) Department of Industry, Resources and Energy Quarterly – December Quarter 2014, released on 22 December 2014, Canberra, pp. 67-70
(10) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement – Key Outcomes, p. 2; Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement – Fact Sheet: Trade in Goods, p. 6f.

Land use

Access to land is fundamental for minerals development. The Australian minerals industry recognises that access to land is earned by demonstrating responsible land stewardship throughout the mining life cycle.  While mining is a temporary land use, the minerals industry acknowledges its responsibility to contribute towards sustainable land use outcomes.

At a national level, the minerals industry’s ‘footprint’ in the landscape is relatively small. While granted mining leases account for around 0.6 per cent(1) of the Australian land mass, the minerals industry ‘footprint’ (including waste) occupies less than 0.1 per cent(2).  At the local or regional level, the minerals industry can be a significant land manager as non-operational land can be significantly larger than the mining footprint and is often used for other activities such as agriculture.

The way the industry manages both operational and non-operational land (under existing or alternate uses) is critical to the industry’s social licence to operate.  Notwithstanding the marked difference in the area of land occupied by the minerals industries and major land uses (including agriculture and conservation), circumstances arise where the demand for resources can overlap.

Sustainable land use outcomes can only be delivered through recognition and integration of the multiple values within the landscape (conservation, economic, social and cultural) with the aim of maximising these values.  With careful, science based planning, mining, conservation, agriculture and other land uses can be complementary as sequential or neighbouring activities.  The minerals industry has led the development of innovative land management approaches which can enhance the integration and co-existence of those activities.

The minerals industry considers ongoing stakeholder engagement is critical to successful land use planning and management.  The rights, knowledge and interests of traditional owners, existing land holders and the community need to be recognised and respected.

MCA members are committed to continuous improvement in their performance, beyond regulatory requirements and to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.  Accordingly, there has been increasing effort by minerals companies to invest in landscape management and conservation activities.

The industry is focussed on avoiding, minimising and mitigating impacts on conservation values. However in some circumstances, offsets may be used to compensate for significant residual loss of these values.  Offsets should be strategically developed to enhance the connectivity and resilience of conservation values within the landscape.

The minerals industry recognises that while some previously mined areas are rehabilitated to pre-existing condition or better, other mined areas result in substantial transformation of the landscape.  It is the minerals industry's goal to ensure that this land is available for beneficial post-mining land use, including economic activities, conservation or community use.

Further information can be found in the MCA Land Stewardship Policy.

Reports and relevant submissions

5 Jun 2015 Senate Committee on Environment and Communications Inquiry into Landholders’ Right to Refuse

(1) IntierraRMG Pty Ltd, Analysis undertaken for the Minerals Council of Australia, current as of December 2012.
(2) State of the Environment 2011 Committee, 2011; Australia state of the environment 2011, Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011  (based on 2005-06 data from Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)

Environmental management

The minerals industry continues to be actively engaged in the practical and effective integration of environmental, social and economic aspects of resource development.  Earning and maintaining a social licence to operate and the practical implementation of sustainable development principles are defining features of modern mining operations.

Key features of the industry’s approach to environmental management include:

Land: Less than 0.7 per cent of Australia’s land mass is currently under mining lease.(i)  The footprint of mining occupies only 0.3 per cent of Australia’s land mass.(ii)  The industry is committed to ensuring mined lands are available both for alternative land uses consecutively with mining (including for biodiversity conservation) and to support alternative post-mining uses (including agriculture).

Water: A high-value, low-volume water user, mining accounts for less than 2.9 per cent of Australia’s water consumption. Mining operations seek to utilise low quality water not suitable for other industrial uses (including hyper-saline waters and primary-treated sewage) and to maximise the reuse efficiency of each water unit on site.(iii)

Biodiversity conservation:  The industry’s approach to biodiversity assessment and management centres on prevention and management of biodiversity impacts from mining and the identification of opportunities to enhance biodiversity conservation.  The minerals industry has contributed to the recovery of a number of threatened species and provides extensive data and resources to national biodiversity research.

Energy: Integrating operational needs with the commitment to sustainable development, the industry is actively pursuing the use of low emissions technologies and energy-efficiency measures.

Emissions management: The industry is actively minimising risks to occupational, community and environmental health through emission, transmission and exposure management for land, air and water.

Materials stewardship: The industry continues to reduce both its use of natural resources and other materials inputs and to minimise its production of wastes through facilitating and encouraging responsible product design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of our products.  It is also engaged in a range of whole-of-life product management and certification schemes in line with leading global practice.

Specific initiatives to give practical effect to this management approach include:

  • Adoption of a nationally consistent minerals industry water accounting framework to drive transparency and water use efficiency
  • Development of alternative frameworks for land use assessment and natural resource management to deliver transparent, rigorous and sustainable decision making processes founded in science and to better support the coexistence of mining, agriculture and conservation
  • Development of leading practice industry guidance on the assessment of cumulative environmental impacts
  • Supporting the continued harmonisation of global chemicals and hazardous substances management to ensure comprehensive and effective protection of the environment and community health
  • Ongoing investment in the search for global climate change solutions, particularly breakthrough abatement technologies across all energy sources, most notably clean coal technology.
Media releases

9 Jul 2015 Approval of Shenhua's Watermark Project

1 Jul 2015 World Heritage Committee Decision Not To List the Great Barrier Reef as ‘In Danger’

10 Apr 2015 Greens Fairyland Continues – More Mining Revenue While Shutting Down the Industry

24 Mar 2015 Australia Makes A Fair and Substantial Contribution to Climate Action

21 Mar 2015 Release of Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

Reports and submissions

19 Jul 2015 Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment – Industry Guide

14 Jul 2015 Inquiry into the Planning and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Bill 2015

22 Jun 2015 Submission on the draft national groundwater framework

3 Jul 2015 Submission to NT EPA on Draft Guideline for Preparing a Notice of Intent

5 Jun 2015 Senate Committee on Environment and Communications Inquiry into Landholders’ Right to Refuse

5 Jun 2015 Submission to the Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations

15 May 2015 Comment on the Assessment Bilateral Agreement - Draft Conditions Policy

18 Aug 2014 The Economic Gains From Streamlining the Process of Resource Projects Approval

(i) SNL Metals & Mining (formerly Intierra RMG)- Mining and Minerals database, December 2012

(ii) Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP), October 2009

(iii) Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 4610.0 – Water Account, Australia, 2012-13



To provide an update of the quarterly minerals exploration data (excluding petroleum) as provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.1

Continuing decline in minerals exploration in Australia

Based on ABS figures, total minerals exploration spend in the June 2015 quarter increased by 8.5 per cent to $344 million.  Exploration on areas of new deposits rose 25.3 per cent and expenditure on areas of existing deposits rose 1.3 per cent.  The largest increase by minerals sought came from expenditure on gold (up 22.7 per cent) followed by coal (up 15.4 per cent).

In the June 2015 quarter, total minerals exploration metres drilled increased by 35 per cent to 1,540,200 metres.  Drilling in areas of new deposits rose 81 per cent and drilling in existing deposits rose 22.7 per cent. Drilling in areas of new deposits accounts for a quarter of drilling activity.

While these quarterly increases are a welcome reversal of trend, in the financial year 2014-15, total minerals exploration spend decreased by 25.1 per cent to $1,575 million from 2013-14 (and 60.2 per cent lower than peak exploration activity in 2011-12). Total minerals exploration metres drilled decreased by 7.6 per cent to 5,963 m from 2013-14 (and 47.7 per cent lower than peak exploration activity in 2011-12).  These are at levels last seen in the mid-2000s (Figure 1).

in 2014-15 exploration expenditure per metre drilled on new greenfield deposits was $695 and on existing brownfield deposits was $110, indicating that greenfield exploration costs 6.3 times more per metre than brownfields exploration.

Figure 1: Minerals exploration expenditure and metres drilled

Source: ABS

Exploration Activity

Australia needs an expanded exploration effort to improve its competitive standing as an exploration investment destination and to ensure the development of Australia’s next generation of mineral resource projects. 

Over the past 20 years Australia’s share of economically significant greenfield mineral discoveries has declined. Australia’s share of global exploration for non-fuel mineral commodities has declined from 17.6 per cent in 2002 to 12 per cent in 2014 (Figure 2).2

Figure 2: Share of global exploration budgets

 Source: US Geological Survey

The most recent exploration data shows that exploration expenditure continues its sharp decline. Nominal exploration expenditure fell 25.3 per cent in 2014-15 to total $1.575 billion.  This is down 48.5 per cent from 2012-13 and down 60.2 per cent from peak minerals exploration activity in 2011-12.  As shown in Table 1, declining exploration expenditure is recorded across most commodities. It also declined in all states and territories.

Western Australia continues to account for the largest share of total exploration expenditure (about 58 per cent) followed by Queensland (almost 20 per cent).  Iron ore accounted for a 28 per cent of total minerals exploration expenditure with gold exploration expenditure next highest at 25 per cent.  Base metals accounted for 18 per cent and coal 16 per cent.

Exploration expenditure in 2014-15 on new greenfield deposits was $485 million while expenditure on existing brownfield deposits was $1.091 billion.  This is substantially down from the 2013-14 figures of $682 million (down 28.9 per cent) and $1.426 billion (down 23.5 per cent) respectively.   

Metres drilled in 2014-15 on new greenfield deposits was 1,569,300 metres while metres drilled on existing brownfield deposits was 4,394,900 metres.  This is down from the 2013-14 figures of 1,597,600 metres (down 1.7 per cent) and 4,855,800 metres (down 9.5 per cent) respectively.

As shown in Figure 3, exploration expenditure per metre drilled in 2014-15 on new greenfield deposits was $695/m and on existing brownfield deposits was $110/m, indicating that greenfield exploration costs 6.3 times more per metre than brownfields exploration.  In 2003-04, greenfield exploration (at $177/m) cost 1.7 times more than brownfield exploration (at $104/m). In 2014-15 greenfield exploration accounted for a quarter of total metres drilled and in 2003-04 greenfield exploration accounted for almost half of total metres drilled.

Table 1: Minerals exploration expenditure – by mineral sought

Mineral 2011-12
% change**
Copper 442.6 319.3 176.8 144.4 -18.3
Silver, lead, zinc 87.5 79.8 45.8 51.9 +13.3
Nickel, cobalt 265.4 164.5 99.4 82.7 -16.8
Gold 768.0 661.8 434.3 395.7 -8.9
Iron ore 1150.6 1011.3 710.6 447.7 -37.0
Mineral sands N/A 37.8 21.1 27.1 +28.4
Uranium 153.6 69.5 43.9 40.6 -7.5
Coal 834.3 544.0 398.7 251.8 -36.8
Other (includes diamonds) 202.5 167.5 164.7 134.5 -18.3
Total 3953.0 3055.4 2108.8 1575.0 -25.3

Source: ABS, MCA estimates; *2014-15 is for YTD Mar 15; **Mar 14 – Mar 15

Figure 3: Minerals exploration expenditure per metre drilled

Source: ABS

The 2014 survey of mining executives by the Canadian based Fraser Institute indicates that Australia’s attractiveness as a destination for mining investment is declining. Australia fell further behind major competitors Canada and the United States with the ranking of all states except South Australia declining over the past year. Western Australia is now the only state to be ranked in the top ten mining jurisdictions. Global executives expressed concern at duplicative and costly approvals procedures, higher royalty charges over recent years and development delays caused by anti-coal activism.3

Tax treatment of exploration

Taxation treatment is a crucial influence on Australia’s competitiveness as a destination for minerals exploration. As the Colorado School of Mines has observed:

Both the rate and form of taxation affect the relative attractiveness of different countries or sub-national regions for investment in mineral exploration and development… Exploration is footloose in that explorers can redirect their activities to regions or countries with more favourable tax regimes.4 

The MCA welcomes the government’s acknowledgement that new mineral discoveries underpin the future of the Australian mining industry. The Exploration Development Incentive allows eligible junior explorers with no taxable income and their Australian shareholders to offset tax losses. Australia’s immediate deduction regime plays a vital role in generating the exploration activity essential to securing a future pipeline of mining projects and the tax revenues generated by the industry over the longer term, including through royalties payments. It recognises that exploration expenditure is an ongoing, necessary and ordinary business expense for a minerals company, and that immediate deductibility is the most practical and efficient way to treat exploration expenditure. Major reviews, including the Ralph Review, have concluded that immediate deduction is the most practical way to treat exploration expenditure.

The next generation of geoscience

World-leading exploration geoscience has been a key competitive advantage of Australia’s exploration sector.

The MCA supports the collaborative agenda advanced by the Australian Academy of Science’s UNCOVER vision to leverage Australia’s capability and launch new programs to search and understand the potential endowments that lie under cover at greater depths.

Exploration has only taken place over about 20 per cent of Australia’s land mass. The remaining 80 per cent of the continent which is covered by regolith and sedimentary basins is largely unexplored. This represents an exploration opportunity of more than 7.5 million square kilometres.5

The UNCOVER Group is supporting AMIRA International in looking to define a roadmap that would include the identification of fundamental new data, as well as targeted scientific and technical products. The MCA was a sponsor of stage 1 of this project, which has identified 16 high priority research and technology development areas uncover the new discoveries that can sustain future production. The MCA welcomes the commitment made to the UNCOVER project by Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Industry collaboration is at the heart of this work, but government commitments to pre-competitive geoscience data, research and improved policies for taxation and regulation are no less important.


Exploration activity in Australia has continued to decrease significantly in terms of both exploration spending and metres drilled in 2014-15 from peak exploration activity in 2011-12. Exploration spend per metre drilled for new deposits in 2014-15 contributed one quarter of all exploration metres drilled, at a cost of more than 6 times the exploration spend cost per metre drilled on existing deposits.

(1) ABS, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/8412.0Jun%202015?OpenDocument
(2) D.R. Wilburn and K. A. Stanley, N. A. Karl, ‘Annual Review 2014: Exploration review’, Mining Engineering, Vol. 67, No. 5, May 2015, pp. 16-38.
[3] Fraser Institute, Survey of Mining Companies 2014http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=22259
[4] Roderick G. Eggert, Mineral Exploration Development: Risk and Reward, May 2010
[5] Australian Government, Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, Minerals exploration: The road to discovery: the minerals exploration action agenda, 2004.

Cumulative impact assessment

In areas of multiple existing or proposed operations, the understanding, assessment and management of cumulative environmental impacts is becoming an area of greater focus by both industry and government.

While the concept of cumulative environmental impact assessment (CIA) is not new, the design of CIA and requirements for project proponents continues to evolve.  The consequences of poorly designed or inappropriate CIA can be significant. These can include increased and unnecessary costs, project delays, loss of community confidence and greater project uncertainty for proponents.

There has been limited policy or industry guidance on how to successfully undertake these complex assessments.  To address this need, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has developed a Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment Industry Guide. 

The Industry Guide is designed to assist minerals industry professionals.  It will provide a useful reference when future environmental approval processes require cumulative environmental impacts to be considered.

Indigenous economic development

Memorandum of Understanding on Indigenous Employment and Enterprise Development

First established in 2005 and re-signed in 2008, the Commonwealth – MCA MoU on Indigenous Employment and Enterprise Development was an innovative partnership that sought to catalyse community development through a joint commitment between the mining industry and federal and state governments.

The MoU achieved local community capacity building; increased connection between industry, government and local communities; empowered community governance; and delivered jobs.


The vision of the MCA and its member companies is a thriving minerals industry working in partnership with Indigenous communities for the present and future development of mineral resources, and their contribution to the establishment of vibrant, diversified and sustainable regional economies.

From this, the MoU partnership aimed to improve the socioeconomic wellbeing of Indigenous Australians by expanding access to employment and business development opportunities available to Indigenous people and communities in mining regions.

Regional Partnership Agreements were established to support employment and enterprise development in six regions: Central Australia (Tanami), East Kimberley, Gnaala Karla Booja, Pilbara, Western Cape York, Wiluna.

Approximately $2 million in matched government and industry funding was allocated over the ten years of the MoU (2005-15).

The MoU was overseen by a joint industry and government national steering committee supported by regional partnership steering committees and coordinators for each region comprising industry partners, and federal and state government representatives.

Assessments in 2008 and 2011 informed the MoU’s continuation and final extension to 2015.

Final outcomes

The remaining regional partnerships for 2013-15 delivered a number of local community development successes including:

  • Weipa – commitment by the Queensland government with Rio Tinto to continue Indigenous mentoring and adult literacy programs, and the pilot business hub established connecting industry procurement opportunities to Indigenous businesses
  • Wiluna – establishment of a local community governance group - the Muntjiltjarra Wurrgumu Group -responsible for an award winning survey on community development needs, and the delivery of careers days linking the community to employment opportunities and pre-qualification assistance
  • Labour mobility in Central Australia – the development of a labour mobility model connecting community demands to employment needs in regions to inform industry and government service delivery employment strategies.

The MCA thanks its industry and government partners and acknowledges their enormous contribution over the past ten years to make this MoU a success. The MoU reinforces the importance of industry-government partnership in leveraging community social investment to close the gap.

The MoU assisted in informing new design of government service delivery (the Remote Jobs and Communities Program) in remote and regional Australia. It demonstrates the importance of local representation working closely with communities to drive outcomes based on their needs linked to opportunities in local industries.

It highlights the power of multi-stakeholder initiatives where shared aspirations and efforts can be expanded upon via collaboration to create societal value from minerals development.

Human rights

Human rights are now reflected in a number of mining industry standards and frameworks including the MCA’s Enduring Value Framework, the International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) Sustainable Development Framework

The Australian Minerals Industry & Human Rights: Managing Human Rights Risks and Opportunities through the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the MCA and the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) highlights how Australian minerals companies are implementing the United Nations’ framework on business and human rights to manage risk and maximise the opportunities to contribute positively to recognition and protection of human rights.

Supporting recognition

The minerals industry’s approach to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is founded in mutual respect and recognition of Indigenous Australian’s rights in law, interests and special connections to land and waters.

The MCA strongly supports the importance of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of this nation, fostering respect for continuing cultures, languages and heritage and acknowledging relationships to traditional lands and waters.

The MCA’s position statement supports the principles of free, prior and informed consent in an Australian minerals industry context.


Promoting gender in mining agreements

Agreements between mining companies and local communities are increasingly used as a mechanism to shape the conditions for resource extraction in order to facilitate meaningful engagement and sustainable development outcomes. In this context, gender equality and social inclusion are gaining attention as key issues. This research explores the challenges and opportunities associated with negotiating and implementing agreements by considering issues relating to gender and local-level development. The focus is on agreement processes between local communities and Australian mining companies operating domestically and offshore.

This research, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), was undertaken by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM), part of the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland. The partnership between DFAT and the MCA has been driven by the commitment that both agencies have to maximising sustainable development outcomes.

This research confirms the value of promoting gender equality in mining agreements and provides important insights into how gender dynamics can influence agreement and benefit-sharing processes at the local-level. The study also identifies strategies for analysing gender dynamics in the context of mining and supporting gender equality in agreement processes.

The two-year program of work included a practitioner perspectives study and case studies at three mining operations in different regions of the world: Papua New Guinea (Newcrest’s Lihir mine), Lao PDR (MMG Sepon LXML operations) and Australia (Rio Tinto Alcan’s Weipa operation). A project report summarises the findings of these four components of the research and provides a list of key tools and guidance documents for practitioners and policy makers.


Community investment

Measuring the industry’s community investment

A survey of 25 Australian mining companies, explorers and resources contractors by corporate social responsibility consultants Banarra found that more than $34.7 billion was spent on community infrastructure, Indigenous contractors, local suppliers and other related activities in 2011-12.

The industry’s community contribution demonstrates the mining sector’s commitment to sustainable development in the conversion of natural endowment to social capital as well as economic dividends.

The size of the community contribution conclusively rebuts the suggestion that Australians were not getting a “fair share” of the mining boom and underscores the fact that the best way of to maximize the  social return from Australia's resource endowment is to ensure the mining sector remains globally competitive and continues to expand.

Voluntary community investment: A strategic approach that incorporates gender

Voluntary community investment (VCI) is a discretionary means by which the minerals industry demonstrates its commitment to making a positive contribution to host communities.

The toolkit Voluntary community investment: A strategic approach that incorporates gender helps companies deliver benefits equitably and sustainably to men and women in regional communities, materially contributing towards the business objectives of companies and shareholders.

The tool kit was developed under the direction of the MCA’s Gender Mining and Communities Dialogue in 2013 and is intended to help mining practitioners undertake a continuous improvement approach to developing and implementing new and existing VCI strategies in the Australian and overseas contexts.

The impact of mining on residential communities

A KPMG study on the changing demographic profile of Australia’s mining communities debunked claims about the alleged negative impact of mining in regional areas. It showed that the mining industry boosted incomes, attracted families and reduced unemployment across nine mining regions. In the process, the study served as a strong counter to claims that FIFO and DIDO are a ‘cancer’ on the bush.


Water stewardship

Water availability and security of supply is a critical business risk for the minerals industry as an essential input to mining and minerals processing and maintaining safety. 

The mining sector is a relatively small water user, accounting for less than 2.9 per cent of national water consumption, the majority of which is sourced through self-funded infrastructure.  By comparison, agriculture consumes 65 per cent and households 9 per cent.  Although the minerals industry is a comparatively small user of water nationally, the industry can be a significant water user at a local or regional level.

The minerals sector is one of the highest value water users in Australia.  In 2012-13, the minerals sector water use realised around $155 million of industry gross value added per gigalitre used, compared with $23 million per gigalitre for forestry and $2 million for agriculture.(i) Water access represents a significant potential constraint on further investment and expansion of the minerals sector at a substantial cost to the industry and broader economy in lost production.(ii)

Minerals industry water policy

Water is a key intersection between mining and other land users.  The industry recognises that water has social, cultural, environmental and economic values at a local, regional and national level. Accordingly, how the minerals industry accesses and manages water is critical to the industry’s social licence to operate.  The MCA has developed a comprehensive water policy which provides the minerals industry’s position on the range of these intersecting issues.

The industry is a strong supporter of national water reform, including the removal of barriers to market entry and the development of water trading markets based on sound pricing principles, taking account of water quantity, quality and the needs of diverse users.

Water accounting

The minerals industry can be a significant water user in some regions.  Accordingly, the industry is committed to active and open engagement with stakeholders including other water users within regions to support regional economic development and diversity and to maximise beneficial re-use of recycled water.

The MCA has led a landmark effort to better understand the industry’s water use (and future needs) through the development of a water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry.

Recent reports and relevant submissions

17 Jul 2015 Submission to the Victorian State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) Review

3 Jul 2015 Submission on the Northern Territory Government’s Our Water Future Discussion Paper 

22 Jun 2015 Submission on the Draft National Groundwater Strategic Framework 2015-25

19 Dec 2014 Submission to the Independent Review of the National Partnership Agreement on CSG and Large Coal Mining Development

7 Jul 2014 Submission to the 2014 Review of the Water Act 2007

6 Dec 2013 Submission to the 2014 Triennial Assessment of water reform progress in Australia

(i) Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 4610.0 – Water Account, Australia (Monetary Tables) 2012-13
(ii) ACIL Tasman, Water Reform and Industry, Prepared for Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, April 2007

The high cost of renewable energy subsidies

Policy Focus

The MCA advocates consistent and balanced policy settings for:

  • An industry free of fatalities, injuries and diseases
  • A macro-economic framework conducive to global competitiveness and sustainable economic growth
  • A skilled, productive and flexible workforce
  • Efficient export infrastructure
  • Reconciling energy security with managing climate change as part of a sustainable global solution
  • A seamless and efficient Federation characterised by consistent regulation
  • Access to competitive markets for capital, production inputs, human resources, and end products
  • Access to natural resources and competitive markets for land, water and energy
  • A fair and stable society where effort is encouraged and rewarded, and support is extended to those in need
  • Mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous and local communities through engagement and capacity building
  • Improved environmental performance for sustainable eco-systems beyond life of mine.

Select an issue

A/g Director - Health, Safety, Environment & Community Policy

MCA Membership

Delivering benefits across the mining sector

The MCA is the peak industry body representing companies that produce more than 85 per cent of Australia’s minerals output and generate export earnings worth more than $150 billion a year.  The MCA has a reputation for uncompromising advocacy on the issues that matter most to Australia’s mining sector and related industries.

Members benefit from the MCA’s advocacy efforts on issues such as economic and fiscal policy, taxation policy, climate and energy policy, Indigenous affairs, education and skills, safety, labour and deregulation. 

The MCA also energetically represents and promotes the benefits of the minerals industry to Australian communities and the national economy.

The MCA benefits from broad industry input. Members have the opportunity to:

  • Participate in the development of national public policy by contributing to MCA policy positions and strategy through the MCA’s standing committees
  • Benefit from the MCA’s intellectual property and publications including regular members-only briefings on policy developments of interest to the mining sector
  • Participate in policy forums which bring together the industry and its stakeholders in government, business, civil society and communities to debate public policy and promote leading practice.

Membership of the MCA is open to companies and individuals operating in, or with an interest in, the Australian minerals industry.

Full Membership is extended to companies directly involved in mining, prospecting or contracting activities relating to the obtaining, concentrating, smelting ore refining of minerals.

Application for Associate Membership is open to companies which carry on as their principal business the supply of equipment, materials, services or capital to a company eligible for Full Membership.

Membership of the MCA also brings with it a number of commitments, specifically:

For more information contact: Membership@minerals.org.au




Delivering a low emissions coal future


Self assessment protocol

The Self-asssesment Protocol provides examples of the policies, practices and standards a company might have in place to meet the requirements of Enduring Value. There are other ways in which companies can fulfil the requirements and there is provision for these to be documented in the protocol.

Criteria Comment
No action has been taken on this issue. No level of awareness. For several of the Principles many companies/sites may be expected to be at this level initially.
Policy, systems, practices and processes are not yet developed. Low level of awareness. Within two years of the launch of Enduring Value most companies should be at this level for almost all of the ten Principles.
Policy, systems, practices and processes have been developed but have not yet been implemented. Some industry leaders will already be close to this level of implementation for all ten Principles.
Policy, systems, practices and processes, including training have been implemented and supported by formal reporting, recording and review mechanisms. A few companies may be at this level for some of the Principles.
Systems and practices have been in place for at least 12 months, with regular auditing and review for continual improvement. At this stage it is unlikely that even industry leaders will be at this level for more than a few of the Principles.

Use of the self-assesment protocol is voluntary, and is not a requirment for signatories to the Enduring Value Framework.


Download the Enduring Value Self Assessment Protocol

Summary booklet

The Summary Booklet provides a communication tool for internal and external stakeholders that details the Enduring Value Framework, its role in securing industry's social licence to operate, its relationship to key international initiatives, governance and implementation requirements and the business case for industry commitment to Enduring Value and to sustainable development.


Download the EV Summary Booklet

Guidance for implementation

The Guidance for Implementation is simple 'plain English' guidance on those aspects of the global Principles and Elements in the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework that a broad range of stakeholders consider should be identified and managed on exploration, mining or minerals processing sites.

The Guidance for Implementation is the core component of Enduring Value and was developed using a comprehensive multi-stakeholder process throughout 2004.The inclusion of a Glossary of Terms ensures that the Guidance can be used as both an internal implementation guide and an external communication document.


Download the EV Guidance for Implementation

Submission to the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle - Issue Paper #1

Submission to the review of the Victorian Climate Change Act 2010

MCA Submission to 457 Integrity Review: Training Fund Contribution Proposal






MCA opening statement to the Joint Parliamentary Committee into Free Trade Agreements


Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment – Industry Guide

Submission to the Victorian State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) Review


Draft Code for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations

Inquiry into the Planning and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Bill 2015

Submission to the Victorian Inquiry into Unconventional Gas





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Chris McCombe, Assistant Director - Environmental Policy

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