4 in 5 Australians would support more mining to help Australia avoid a recession

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Media Release by Send Money Australia

New research reveals that 79 per cent of Australians would support more mining – and 51 per cent would support more coal mining – if it would help strengthen the Australian dollar and avoid a recession. 

The findings come despite Australia’s coal mines estimated to produce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year while the country is preparing for net-zero emissions, but because of a risk of 2023 recession of the back of this year’s fast-rising inflation and interest rates, and other economic factors.

The findings were derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1000 Australians, commissioned by money transfer comparison platform Send Money Australia, which sought to find out whether Australians would support mining, including coal mining, to strengthen our exchange rate and economy. The full results, with age and State breakdowns, can be found here: https://sendmoneyaustralia.com/support-mining-avoid-recession/  

Australian commodities, two-thirds of which are natural resources, saw healthy export volumes in 2022. Australia has maintained its position as the largest exporter of metallurgical coal, and the second-largest exporter of thermal coal. Coal makes up a large part of the $422 billion of resources and energy exported, and the Government forecasts these exports to increase to $450 billion in the 2023 financial year.

Our exports are supporting the Australian dollar in international markets and there are some forecasts that our mining exports will soften future economic downturns in the same way that they helped soften the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on our economy. 

Despite the ongoing climate crisis, research reveals that most Australians are desperate for economic relief and willing to continue with natural resource exports – including coal – to weather the current tough economic period. 

51 per cent of Australians support mining, including coal 

Send Money Australia found that half of respondents (51 per cent) would support an increase in mining activity, including the mining of coal.

Across the States, Queenslanders are most supportive of coal mining, with 56 per cent voting in support. This was followed closely by 55 per cent of Victorians, 50 per cent of NSW residents, 45 per cent of South Australians, 43 per cent of West Australians and just 28 per cent of ACT residents. 

Older age groups, who may be less affected by the impacts of climate change, are more likely to encourage coal mining to avoid any economic downturn. In fact, the likelihood for Australians to support coal mining increased with age: 39 per cent of under-35s, 53 per cent of 35-54-year-olds, and 56 per cent of over-55s support more coal exports. 

The significance of women in global climate movements is reflected in the study, as young women all over the world have become figureheads and leaders of climate justice, with an estimated four out of five people displaced by the impacts of climate change being girls and women. The survey showed that men are more likely than women to support coal mining for economic benefit: 55 per cent of men support more coal mining, compared with 47 per cent of women.  

28 per cent of Australians support more mining, but not coal 

As the world produces the infrastructure required for renewable energy – such as solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage – mining of certain metals and minerals will need to increase. The production of solar power panels requires mined aluminium, copper and other rare earth elements, while wind turbines require earth elements such as iron.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of survey respondents would support mining – but would not support coal mining – to strengthen the Australian dollar and avoid economic downturn.

Younger Australians are more likely to support other forms of mining, excluding coal, with more than one-third (37 per cent) of under-35s support in support, followed by 25 per cent of 35-54-year-olds and 26 per cent of over-55s.

21 per cent of Australians are against all additional mining

In 2018, the Australian Government commissioned a study on the public perception of mining: it discovered that while mining is considered central to the economy, there was a lack of trust in the process. In recent years, the climate crisis and public perception of the issue have been drastically re-imaged as fear of environmental impacts and the rise of climate activism have shown to have a significant impact on Australian voting and buying power. The mining industry, in particular, holds a powerful stereotype of negative environment impact, despite the current need for ongoing mining to produce renewable resources.

Send Money Australia found that one-fifth (21 per cent) of Australians would not support mining at all, regardless of whether it would assist the economy. South Australians are most likely to disagree with any mining as a means to support the Australian economy: 28 per cent of SA respondents don’t support mining, followed by 21 per cent of NSW respondents, an equal 20 per cent of West Australians and Victorians, 19 per cent of Queenslanders and 17 per cent of ACT respondents. 

The younger the age group, the more likely are Australians to disapprove of any kind of mining: 24 per cent of under-35s do not support mining at all, compared with 22 per cent of 35-54-year-olds and 19 per cent of over-55s.

The full results, with age and State breakdowns, can be found here: https://sendmoneyaustralia.com/support-mining-avoid-recession/