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Chamber urges support for mining communities

Release Date: 5/11/2018
Future-proofing the local economies of mining communities and enhancing opportunities for SMEs to participate in the mining industry should be priorities for the federal government, Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes will tell a parliamentary inquiry in Singleton on Monday, 5 November.
Mr Hawes will appear before a public hearing of the parliamentary inquiry into how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The committee is chaired by the Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce.
A submission to the inquiry by the Hunter Business Chamber draws a contrast between the socio-economic situations of the Upper Hunter, which is seeing the benefits of strong mining activity, and nearby Cessnock, where the community is experiencing the legacy impacts of a declining mining sector.
“The Hunter is unique in the extent to which its communities are invested in the mining industry. Mining is not an industry that sits outside or alongside the communities of the Hunter; rather, it is intrinsically tied to them, and as such the region’s communities and their local economies are particularly vulnerable to the boom-bust nature of the mining sector,” Mr Hawes said.
“The Chamber believes it should be a priority of Government to work with the mining sector to ensure local economies are supported not only to participate in the industry while it is active within an area but also to transition successfully to new opportunities when mining goes into decline.”
Mr Hawes will address issues such as inconsistent payment terms and complexity of tender documentation, which can be significant pain points for small and medium-sized businesses participating in the mining sector, as well highlighting the need for government policy to promote local procurement.
“The Chamber acknowledges that some large mining companies are very proactive in their support of local business,” Mr Hawes said.
“A good example is the local buying program that BHP has implemented at its Mount Arthur mine, in the Upper Hunter. The scheme has shorter payment terms than general contracts, with an average of 12 days, and more than $6.6 million was spent last financial year with more than 100 local suppliers.
“This sort of scheme is a good model for how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies.”
The public hearing will be held at Singleton Diggers from 9.55am. Representatives from the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Singleton Business Chamber will also appear before the inquiry, as well as other industry and community stakeholders.

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