RDP 2014-08: The Effect of the Mining Boom on the Australian Economy 1. Introduction

The world price of Australia's mining exports has more than tripled over the past decade, while investment spending by the mining sector increased from 2 per cent of GDP to 8 per cent. This ‘mining boom’ represents one of the largest shocks to hit the Australian economy in generations. This paper attempts to quantify some of its effects, using a large-scale structural model of the Australian economy, AUS-M.

We find that the mining boom has substantially increased Australian living standards. By 2013, we estimate that it had raised real per capita household disposable income by 13 per cent, raised real wages by 6 per cent and lowered the unemployment rate by about 1¼ percentage points. There have also been costs. The boom has led to a large appreciation of the Australian dollar that has weighed on other industries exposed to trade, such as manufacturing and agriculture. However, because manufacturing benefits from higher demand for inputs to mining, the deindustrialisation that sometimes accompanies resource booms – the so-called ‘Dutch disease’ – has not been strong. We estimate that manufacturing output in 2013 was about 5 per cent below what it would have been without the boom.