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Archive for November, 2012

Wandering an important case study for future Ausgold Mine

Posted by cegan on November 4, 2012

Wandering in the Wheatbelt has seen 19% population growth since the last census and due to the Boddington Gold Mine being within 30 mins of the town the amount of people employed in the mining industry has rocketed to 13% of the population and the 2nd biggest industry in town after it not raising a blip previously. 

This has important policy implications for the Ausgold mine in Katanning shire. It assures that market demands of choice will bring people to the towns of Dumbleyung, Nyabing, Gnowangerup, Broomehill and Woodanilling. All five towns are within 40 mins of the Gold Mine and have been battling declining populations and rainfall. 

What does the statistics tell us? Well in 2006 the population of Wandering had 355 people, by 2011 they had increased the population to 438. 5-14 year olds within the shire have increased from 50 – 64 and the median individual income has grown from $463 a week to $745. More importantly we have females moving back to the district as their are associated jobs from the increased population in Boddington that are not in the mining industry but are required to service the population. 

The increased revenue of the people of the shire has boosted discretionary spending in the town. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway outlet category has moved as the 5th most employed industry, after not even being mentioned at the previous census. 

Agriculture also becomes less important to the economic fortunes, while a bad season could severely impact the local economy in 2006 as 58% of people worked in Agriculture, by 2011 it had reduced to 35%. The unemployment rate of Wandering has dropped from 4.3% to 2.1% in that five years. So clearly Wandering is benefiting from the Gold Mine. 

Has cost of living increased substantially with a mine on its doorstep?

The median housing loan has rocketed up from $723 a month to $1923 and the makeup of the town has become much more family orientated. 83.5% of the community is made up of family households, up from 66% in 2006. We have the male to female ration move back towards 50/50 while Boddington down the road has moved to 63% male as the town entrenches itself as a mining town. Wandering maintains its Agricultural character that is proving to be very attractive to families. 

Wandering’s growth has been more sustainable, looking on http://www.realestate.com.au there are still houses below $200,000 and blocks below $100,000. With small class sizes, isolation and fresh country air the school has increasing school enrolments. Market forces are bringing people to the town, as towns to the west such as Pinjarra and Mandurah have much higher housing prices. Wandering has lower housing prices plus jobs close by. 

Other towns have changed dramatically as Boddington’s mine has become operational. North Dandalup’s unemployment rate has declined to 3.5% from 5.9%. In Dwellingup, Mining has gone from 5th largest employer within town to the first. It has grown from just 8 employees to 43 as the population has doubled in population within the last five years from 346 – 700. 

Boddington’s population has grown from 1300 – 2200 people within the shire. But unlike the Pilbara which has limited towns and extreme economic growth. Boddington has had towns within 30 mins of it to take up demand. Boddington has had a majority of the growth in mining workforce. It has grown from just 61 in 2006 to 341 in 2011. 

As the State Government looks at future planning, the Boddington Gold Mine can be used to predict what will happen in other towns. Newmont Mining predict there are around 900 people employed at the Boddington Gold Mine. 341 live in Boddington, 43 in Dwellingup and 32 in Wandering. 416 or nearly half of the total employees live within 30mins of the mine. When they build Katanning a far higher percentage will be within 30 mins of the mine. As there will be no absorption by a large centre like Mandurah which has a population of 69,000. 

But as we have seen with the Boddington Gold Mine the population of the region close to the mine has grown by over 1000 people. Towns should expect to see a cultural change as Wandering has experienced. Moving from 58% of the labor force in agriculture to 35% as people service the mine and a new industry becomes a major employer. But it does increase discretionary spending, brings more kids to sustain the school and does reverse population decline. 

Gnowangerup, Broomehill, Dumbleyung will see economic development spark re-population as workers flock to the region and have the choice of a number of towns of which to live in.  Just as the Boddington Gold Mine has spread its employment tentacles throughout the region. 

Councils across the Great Southern Region will benefit due to natural market forces of choice. The more attractive the towns are for families the greater the growth spurt they will get.

Cheap land, close access to the mine and the country environment are already providing an attraction for families working at Boddington but living in a traditionally agricultural community. 

Chris Egan


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