Incomes and educational attainment are higher, unemployment is lower and there are more families and working aged residents in Australia’s mining regions than in regional Australia more generally, a new demographic study shows.

The study by KPMG for the MCA and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) compiles basic demographic profiles of the resident population in Australia’s nine main mining and resource regions for the first time.

The findings debunk a number of myths and anecdotal claims about the impact of the mining sector on regional Australia. Mining is not hollowing out the regions in which it operates – it is boosting incomes, attracting families and reducing unemployment.

It shows that mining, including natural gas production, has driven a substantial increase in high-income earners. In 2006, five per cent of the resident population in mining regions earned $2000 per week or more, but by 2011 this had increased to 13 per cent of the population. This compares with five per cent across regional Australia.

KPMG also found that in the five years to 2011, the population of Australia’s mining regions had grown at 1.5 per cent per year. This was the same as the national average but greater than the 0.8 per cent for regional Australia more generally.

This punches a hole in claims that, with the increase in fly-in-fly out employees, mining regions are not increasing in population size. Employees are flying in, flying out and also moving to the mining regions.

As the report states: “Employment opportunities in mining Australia are stimulating the resident population growth crucial to sustainable communities.”

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