Still the Lucky Country?-Minerals and Human Resources

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
In Australia we usually define "resource" in purely material terms, and rarely relate it to intellect and human capacity. We look at the sheer abundance of our natural resources and are satisfied with the feeling that we don't really need-to rely on using our brains. Certainly our country is fortunate to have the mineral resources it does, but in many ways Australia's worst enemy is its "lucky country" syndrome because we tend to underutilise the great resource we have in the capacities of our people. Raw material exports will undoubtedly continue to contribute a major share of our export revenue, but to harness the riches our country has to offer most effectively we need the vision and planning necessary to bring together our material and human resources. There is a need not only to find, exploit and process our minerals economically, but to turn as much of our mineral wealth as possible into high value products before it leaves the country. In particular we must use our brainpower if we want to maximise economic benefit from and political influence over the strategic minerals which leave our shores. In the past we have been successful in finding and exploiting minerals because our mining industry has been in the forefront of private sector research and development. But if Australia is to have an advantage over other mineral rich countries in insulating itself from the effects of cyclical swings in commodity prices, then the future of the industry must lie even more in technological sophistication rather than depending. on such considerations as size and location of mineral deposits. To survive, our mineral industry must have the foresight and resourcefulness to make its own luck. There are two keys to increased efficiency in exploration and production and in further processing methods: enhancement of the skills of the workforce and continual improvement of R&D.
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