Analysis of the Changing Resident Demographic Profile of Australias Mining Communities


The Australian mining and resources sector has experienced unprecedented growth over the last decade. While the sector has seen a recent slowdown in growth, the long-term demand for Australian mineral resources will continue.

For the purposes of this Report, the 'Mining' industry is defined according to the ABS ANZSIC Classification (2006) and includes units mainly engaged in Coal Mining , Oil and Gas Extraction, Metal Ore Mining, Non-Metallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying ,Exploration and Other Mining Support Services (i.e. Mineral Exploration). At points in the Report, it has been possible to extract the Oil and Gas subset to obtain a picture of the Oil and Gas industry as a discrete entity.

There are mining projects in every state of Australia and a variety of minerals and resources are extracted from sites across the continent. The nine Mining Regions sampled in this Report cover a large geographic area of Australia and stretch from the remote interior communities of Moranbah in central Queensland's Bowen Basin and Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Western Australia , to the coastal mining , oil and gas communities of Karratha and Port Hedland. The nine regions considered in this Report contain approximately half a million permanent residents which translates to less than 2.5% of the total population of Australia. The whole of the Pilbara currently contains far fewer permanent residents than the city of Ballarat in Victoria. Yet much of the future prosperity of the nation and these regions depend on mining development.

This Report on the demographic profile of the resident population (excluding non-resident workers) in nine selected Mining Regions shows that, on the whole, mining resident populations are growing and diversifying. There were a total of 37,840 residents added to the combined Mining Regions in Australia over the five years to June 2011 , translating to an average annual growth rate of 1.5% (in line with national growth trends). Of the nine regions sampled in this study, all but one experienced population growth. Six experienced population growth at or above Regional Australia growth rates between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses. The fastest growing Mining Regions are located in Western Australia.

This Report shows that the residential communities already ensconced in remote regions are generally reflective of a broader average non-metropolitan demographic profile. There are families and there are workers living in these communities.

Increased mining, oil and gas activity is creating employment opportunities in remote Australia. The relatively recent phenomenon of a large-scale FIFO workforce servicing the mines is only part of the solution to the challenge of getting workers to remote workplaces. The other part of the solution involves a commitment to developing sustainable local communities.

Employment opportunities in Mining Australia are stimulating the resident population growth crucial to sustainable communities. According to the 2011 Census, 41,177 residents were employed within the Mining industry in the combined nine regions. In the five years to 2011, the number of residents employed in the Mining industry increased by 13,809 or 50%. Associated with growth in the Mining industry, Construction is now the second largest industry of employment across Australia 's Mining Regions. Growth in Mining and Construction combined contributed towards two-thirds of total employment growth for the Mining Regions between 2006 and 2011.

This has translated into incomes and educational attainment higher than the Regional Australian average and unemployment rates lower than the Regional Australian average in most of the Mining Regions examined.

Part of the story in developing sustainable communities includes developing a strong economic base. For many of the reg ions investigated in this study, mining has provided this economic base.

Increased mining activity is contributing towards the demographic shift that is leading to higher levels of residential population growth in the Mining Regions. This change in the demographic landscape fits neatly within the context of the overall development of northern and western Australia as the nation cements closer ties with Asian neighbours.

This Report defines the demographic and industry workforce profile of the residents in nine sampled Mining Regions. While it is acknowledged that rapid growth has been accompanied by some social externalities, understanding this baseline socioeconomic data is the first step required in working towards developing sustainable mining communities that are 'punching above their weight' and significantly contributing towards national economic prosperity.

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