Mining is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary as the action, process, or industry of extracting ores and other materials from mines. It includes any activity that fits the definition of mining, irrespective of whether the activity relates to private individuals, organisations whose principal business is not mining (for example, companies involved in diverse industries), or organisations whose principal business is mining. In some instances, the first stage of processing, known as primary processing, is included. Examples of primary processing include the refining and transformation of ores to basic forms.
Another way of viewing mining is through an industry classification. The industrial classification used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006. The Mining Division includes units that mainly extract naturally occurring solids, such as coal and mineral ores; liquid minerals, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. The term mining is used in the broad sense to include: underground or open cut mining; dredging; quarrying; well operations or evaporation pans; recovery from ore dumps or tailings as well as beneficiation activities (that is, preparing, including crushing, screening, washing and flotation) and other preparation work customarily performed at the mine site, or as a part of mining activity. The Mining Division distinguishes two basic activities: mine operation and mining support activities.
Mine operation includes units operating mines, quarries, or oil and gas wells on their own account, or for others on a contract or fee basis, as well as mining sites under development.
Mining support activities include units that perform mining services on a contract or fee basis, and exploration (except geophysical surveying).
This traditional ANZSIC view of mining can be extended to include industries which provide mining-related activities and services to reflect the broader view of the industry. The extent of this view can vary depending on the end use of the statistics presented. The view can include mining-related activities in industries such as manufacturing, construction, transport and storage, property and business services and electricity and gas.
The Minerals Council of Australia adopts a minerals industry view of mining which includes exploration for, and extraction and primary processing of minerals up to the first pouring of the refined metal. Oil and gas extraction, and iron and steel industries are excluded from this view. On the other hand, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) reflects a resource view of mining in their publications. This view is similar to that for the Minerals Council of Australia but it includes the iron and steel and the oil and gas extraction industries.
It is important to understand the differences in the views adopted by various organisations when using and comparing statistics. The annual statistics on mining released by the ABS are based on an industry view, while the statistics on exploration expenditure are based on exploration activities. These are not directly comparable with each other, or with the statistics released by ABARES or the Minerals Council of Australia.
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Topics @ a Glance - Mining Statistics
This page first published 24 October 2005, last updated 2 December 2013