Australian Left Review


Gavan Butler


Late in 1981, the Bureau of Industry Economics (BIE) finally reported on its study of the prospective demand by the mining sector of the Australian economy for commodities produced by manufacturing industries.1 The study was of "backward linkages" between mining and manufacturing only; it did not consider "forward linkages", that is existing and prospective supplies of Australian minerals to local processing and fabricating industries. Nonetheless, it is an important study in a number of respects. It provides careful predictions in place of rather opaque information, such as that garnered by W.D. Scott & Co. in relation to expansion by Hamersley Holdings Ltd,2 and in place of guesswork and reference to experience in other countries. It is important, also, in that it indicates how relatively unimportant are the mining sector's backward linkages in comparison with value added in the mining sector itself.3 The bulk of the value added is to be found in the gross operating surpluses of the mining corporations.



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