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Optimising the resources boom means smarter planning

By Robin Batterham - posted Monday, 19 November 2007

The current resources boom, predicted widely to last for an extended period, dominates the Australian economy and generates huge business activities and profits that are shaping government revenues and policies at federal and state levels – particularly in the “resources” states.

The boom is unprecedented and sustained. There is an emerging view that it won’t end in the foreseeable future.

Australia has to prepare prudently for the phenomenon to end, but it also has to plan for it to run on for 15 to 30 years, to meet the demand from the emerging giants of the world markets.


The boom is intricately linked to the surging economies of Asia and carries the attendant risks and rewards. It gives rise to some key economic and technological issues for Australia, which the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering will address at its annual symposium in Perth on 19 and 20 November 2007.

Titled Resources Boom: Opportunities and Consequences, the 2007 Symposium will examine – from both Australian and international perspectives – the upside and downside of the situation into which the resources boom has pushed the nation.

The boom poses questions that have serious national implications.

Will the demand be sustained?

The short answer is that we don’t know, but all the indicators are that the demand for minerals to underpin the economic development of the roaring economies of China and India will be sustained for a generation, unless truncated by political upheaval or natural disaster.

We have to plan for demand to be sustained, but we also have to take a prudent approach and work out how we plan for the boom to end.  This elicits a huge raft of questions about why, when and what to do, that should be exercising the best minds in the country in the immediate future.


How will the operating environment change?

Irrespective of the boom, the world is headed for far more severe carbon constraints than we have seen to date.  This will impact on all aspects of our economy - and not just the minerals industry.

Mining has been remarkably agile and resourceful in meeting environmental challenges in recent years and will need to continue to demonstrate these skills to meet new carbon targets - both in operational terms and in communication challenges.

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About the Author

Professor Robin Batterham AO FREng FAA FTSE is President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and former Australian Chief Scientist.

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Resources Boom: Opportunities and Consequences

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