RESPECTED: Westpac chief economist Bill Evans is coming to the Golding Industry Conference.
RESPECTED: Westpac chief economist Bill Evans is coming to the Golding Industry Conference. Contributed By Gladstone Engineering

More mining booms ahead

ARE you still confused about whether the mining boom has ended? Save yourself the brain-power, because it's not that simple.

One of Australia's most respected economists is coming to Gladstone for the Golding Industry Conference.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans yesterday said Gladstone was experiencing "breathtaking growth", but the sustainability of that growth would depend heavily on global economic trends and commodity prices.

Asked about the political debate over the end of the mining boom, Mr Evans said the reality was more complex.

"I think there are three mining booms," he said.

"Past, present and future.

"The first one, in the past, was between 2002 and 2008, when commodity prices exploded. They went up by a factor of about five. So, the first boom was really a prices boom.

"Mining Boom Mark II is the construction cycle, which really got under way in 2010, with Pluto and then of course the three big coal seam gas projects around the Gladstone area and the big LNG projects in (West Australia)."

Mr Evans said gas projects under construction were about $180 billion and there was about $25 billion in coal and iron ore projects.

"The issue is, will there be another wave of projects coming through to replace those projects when they are completed? I think to say you would get another wave of $180 billion in projects is a big ask," he said.

"Then you'll run into Mining Boom Mark III, where you get into the actual production process when gas will be exported. The export growth will be spectacular. The real growth period there will be 2014 to 2016."

Aluminium

THE price of aluminium is vital in Gladstone, where thousands are employed in the sector.

Mr Evans said that price, which is currently low, was determined by supply and demand.

"You would think at (the current) prices, a number of smelters will be decommissioned, which will tend to resurrect the supply and demand imbalance."


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