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Industry Matters - a column by Resource Industry Network (April 29, 2022)

The lack of respect being shown to the region’s METS sector by local Federal Government candidates is disappointing to say the least. For a region and an industry body that largely influenced the last Federal Election, some would say they have a short memory. So let me remind them of this incredible group of businesses in the mining supply chain.

Generally speaking, business owners are a tenacious bunch. The amount of energy, flexibility, creativity, and motivation required to operate a business is next level stuff.

Then there are the mining equipment and technology (METS) SMEs. They are a breed of their own. I’m constantly in awe of their innovative ways, adaptability, and resilience.

The amount of adversity thrown their way in the past decade is truly staggering. You name it, they’ve weathered the storm – floods, downturns, pandemics, supply chain stagnation, skills shortages, business insurance, unfair payment terms, and more.

To those outside the industry, it may appear that these businesses seemingly pop out the other side of these major hurdles seemingly unscathed, but it certainly takes a toll. Often it is their resourcefulness and intimate industry knowledge that sees them through.

The METS businesses in this region are the reason why the resources sector is in such a strong position. But given the amount of roadblocks that get thrown their way and the increasing cost of operating a business, you would wonder why they would even bother most days.

No one goes into business to break even. They operate to provide a service or solution to clients, provide stable jobs for their workforce, to contribute to the communities in which they operate, and to make a profit.

The positive flow-on benefits that SMEs provide cannot be truly measured. But ultimately, they put the business in a position to invest, and in the case of the METS sector, it allows them to innovate and provide further productivity and cost efficiencies to the mining operations of more than 45 operating mines in the Bowen Basin.

Resource Industry Network has been voicing the critical need to support this unique set of businesses in the mining supply chain, however we have been nothing but disappointed in the lack of commitments from local candidates.

For a sector that is the backbone of Australia’s leading export industry and played a starring role in the national, state, and local economies during the past two years, we are not seeing any solid commitments to projects that are going to continue to keep our region at the forefront.

METS businesses are the reason that mining operations could keep operating during the pandemic. They are also key to delivering solutions that address Net Zero carbon emissions targets and the platform to develop our critical minerals sector.

So let me say it again. Resource Industry Network is calling on our political parties to support this unique set of businesses in the mining supply chain with initiatives, programs, incentives, and red tape reduction, so they can keep moving forward.

If the METS sector is faced with ongoing roadblocks, we may find ourselves without one of the most vital cogs in the wheel.

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Resource Industry Network is the only not-for-profit member group representing the resource sector and allied industries within the Mackay region.

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