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Mining for Metals in Western Australia

Jun 2 '17

Mining for Metals in Western Australia

Mining is an integral part of the Western Australian economy, even with a recent dip in the sector’s value. From the price of houses, to the surface engineering industry, the mining sector impacts every corner of our state in some way. The earth in our resource-rich state holds all kinds of deposits including iron ore in various forms, rare metals like gold, silver, platinum and copper, and minerals for the refinery like lead, magnesium, lithium, and aluminium.

The Current Situation

There has been a lot of doom and gloom in the media recently about the state of the mining sector in WA. The truth is, although the value of the sector in Gross State Product (GSP) terms dropped in 2015-16 from the year before, things aren’t all that bad. Last year the mining industry accounted for 23% of the state’s GSP, a whopping $54.9 billion. Although this reflected a 15% drop in value from 2014-15, production volume in the sector increased by 7% so there is a hint of optimism in the data. However, there is no denying prices are low and for the thousands of workers across the country who have lost their jobs in restructures and sweeping redundancies, life got a whole lot tougher during the recent downturn. Western Australia’s resources industry has hit peaks and troughs before – it sends ripples through many other industries, including our own surface engineering industry.

The Importance of the Mining Industry

As our second-largest industry by GSP and a major employer across the state, “bad times” in the mining sector unarguably have a significant impact on our quality of life in WA. The only industry more valuable than mining is Market Services, which accounts for nearly $20 billion more than the resources sector. Western Australia is the largest iron ore producer in the world – yes, our little state produces almost twice as much ‘red gold’ as our nearest rival (Brazil), accounting for 37% of world production. In fact, we have so much iron ore in reserve that our industry could be sustained for another 75 years or more.

The Future of Mining

We can’t see 75 years ahead, however despite a sharp downturn economists are predicting better times in the next few years. Uncertainty is rife and we aren’t likely to see a return to the crazy high prices of 2008-09, but lenders are starting to loosen the purse strings and export prices are on the rise. Explorers and operators realise the party is over so they are looking for innovative ways to save costs and increase productivity. In the surface engineering field, we are seeing lots of mining companies who want to extend the life of their machinery and save costs using durable metal spray coatings. Other industries are on the rise to hopefully fill the gap left by the mining downturn. In the future, we could see the manufacturing and agriculture industries play a larger role in our state’s economy, as well as emerging industries like technology and the start-up scene. No matter where it settles (if it settles) the mining industry will remain a big part of life in Western Australia and all across the country. Despite the ups and downs, the team at New Metal Surfaces is ready and willing to assist any industry, providing quality component reclamation services to keep our state’s title of ‘The Powerhouse of Australia’.

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