Last week’s Bairnsdale Advertiser published a range of articles and heartfelt comments expressed in relation to the State government decision to phase out the native timber harvesting industry and transition to plantation native timber by 2030. The native timber industry is an important and major economic contributor to not just the East Gippsland region, but more broadly to the state of Victoria.
The Victorian forestry and wood products sector directly employs 24,000 people across the state and between 42-52,000 indirect jobs support the sector, many of those in timber manufacturing. In the last financial year, the sector contributed in excess of $7 billion to the Victorian economy and around 21,000 jobs in rural and regional areas (as quoted by Councillor Sonia Buckley in the Bairnsdale Advertiser, 11 August 2021).
Rural and regional communities greatly benefit from sustainable industries such as the timber sector and the many and diverse indirect jobs generated in support of the larger local industry.
Modern mining, also sustainable and highly regulated like the native timber industry, is a critical growth industry to Victoria and has the potential to build and add diversity to regional economies through the creation of well paid and highly skilled full time jobs.
The most recent Victorian Resource Indicators Report confirmed that Victoria’s strong upward trajectory in minerals exploration and production is driving and supporting more local jobs and small business opportunities. The report notes that in 2019 the minerals sector added 23,500 full time indirect jobs across all sectors of the economy – 49 percent of Victoria’s resources jobs are in rural and regional areas.
Currently, Victoria has 16 major mining projects in the pipeline with a value range of $3.1 to $6.6 billion. Exploration and investment in minerals projects is creating a pipeline of new projects in gold, base metals, mineral sands, rare earths and potential lithium to supply inputs for modern technology in an environmentally sustainable way.
Kalbar is committed to ensuring the Fingerboards mineral sands project provides maximum benefit to both our regional community and state economy. The economic modelling reflected in our Environment Effects Statement suggests that every $60 million invested in the project annually will have a total economic impact of more than $100 million and support approximately 200 indirect jobs, in addition to the direct project workforce.