While the Hunter Valley produces and exports large volumes of coal, it is no longer the “bedrock” of the Hunter Valley economy that it once was. The Hunter now has a more diversified, modern economy.
Almost 600,000 people live in the Hunter Valley region*, with 343,000 living in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie urban areas and 243,000 more in the wider area.
2011 census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that only 13,140 workers, or five per cent of Hunter Valley jobs, are in the coal industry – in other words, 95 per cent of Hunter workers do not work in the coal industry. Public perception is that the coal industry employs four times as many people, however this is clearly incorrect.
The NSW Minerals Council claims that the mining industry is ‘fundamental to the success of the NSW economy and achieving the NSW Government’s economic targets’.
Yet only two per cent of NSW government revenue comes from coal royalties – the other 98 per cent comes from other sources. When this small proportion or NSW royalties is expressed in dollar terms it seems much bigger – $1.3 billion in 2012-13. The reporting of dollar values may be one reason why Hunter residents surveyed by the Australia Institute believe coal royalties are ten times the size they are. This figure also doesn’t take into account massive subsidies awarded to the coal industry.
The facts about coal in the Hunter Valley show that the jobs and income from this polluting industry is far less than people think.
For more information download The Australia Institute’s latest paper Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley economy.
* The Hunter Valley is defined as ABS Statistical Areas SA4 106 Hunter Valley ex Newcastle and SA4 111 Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.