P3 - Regions in Transition
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Research Overview: Mining and farming have been important industries to the Australian economy since colonial times but the industries have generally operated in separate areas with limited overlaps. Over the last decade mining activity has surpassed agriculture in both return on investment and contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) and farming has continued to lose its share of economic contribution. To date, most mining activity has been in remote and regional areas where the deposits are richest, but high prices, sophisticated extractive processes and high returns are now making deposits viable which hitherto have been considered marginal, many of which are in communities where farming has been the main industry. While agricultural returns have plateaued, the resources sector continues to expand. Mining activities are now encroaching on land which has traditionally been highly productive agricultural land and land use conflicts are increasingly evident. Resource development presents both opportunities and negative impacts to many local communities. Opportunities need to be well managed to ensure that there are enduring benefits and positive legacies. In many regional areas resource developments offer the opportunity for local communities to maintain and grow their economic and population base. However, this involves transitions in workforce skills, economic structures, work/lifestyle arrangements, aesthetic amenity and community structures; changes which are not always comfortable in communities which have generally been stable over many decades.Governments and industry have found it difficult to adjust to heightened community concerns about potential social impacts of resource development and issues such as environmental risks and the loss of good agricultural land. There are also issues in small communities where competition for resources pushes up housing prices and labour costs with adverse impacts on other sectors of local economies. Despite planning and approval processes new developments are at increasing risk of grass roots protest groups blocking development.
This research led to the publication: Haslam McKenzie, F., Rolfe, J., Hoath, A., Buckley, A. and Greer, L. (2013). Regions in Transition: Uneasy Transitions to a Diversified Economy involving Agriculture and Mining. Final Report prepared for CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship, Mineral Futures Collaboration Cluster, by the Curtin Graduate School of Business, Curtin University, Perth and CQUniversity, Rockhampton.
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