Australian Mining Driving Growth in Perth

Western Australia’s capital city is reinventing itself as the shining face of a mining boom.

“Perth hasn’t seen this level of development for over 20 years,” Western Australia Property Council’s Damian Stone said.

“It’s dramatic, and reflects how the dynamic of the city itself has grown. We are now a world-class city and that has given us, for the first time in a long time, the confidence that we must play a decisive role in shaping our nation’s future.”

Perth’s Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi believes the city’s transformation, sparked by major resources companies massively expanding their presence in the city, had seen two decades of growth take place within four years.

“Perth is now a significant city globally,” she said.

It is more than a mining city. At the tip of the boom in 2007, a modern period of prosperity when the average wage hit 75,000 dollars, and 70 percent of all leases in the city were mining-related.

Four companies leased 20 percent of the office space. They were mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, and oil and gas producers Chevron and Woodside Petroleum, all major players in the vast state’s resources industry.

BHP’s new 46-storey centre for its Australian operations is the big fish. While it is still under construction in the middle of Perth’s business district, the confidence it inspired has already manifested itself in several major commercial and retail developments.

There has also been a surge of small bars and classy eateries in the streets in the past years.

Retail Traders’ Association executive director Wayne Spencer said, “It’s not just Perth. The boom’s flow-on impact has touched every business in every corner of the state.”

“West Australians are very conscious of the fact that the mining industry’s driving the state at the moment,” he said. “No matter what your job is, it’s affected in some way by the mining industry.”

In the past decade, Western Australia’s population increased by 400,000 people, about 2.27 million people. But still continuing to attract immigrants to the state will be a key part of filling the labor gap.

“In the last decade, WA’s (Western Australia’s) share of national exports increased to 45 percent,” he said. “WA is the economic epicenter of Australia, and it’s time for the decision-makers in Canberra to recognize that.”