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Mining offers less than people think

AUSTRALIANS think mining contributes far more to the economy and job creation than it really does, while underestimating the level of foreign ownership in the industry, a survey shows.

AUSTRALIANS think mining contributes far more to the economy and job creation than it really does, while underestimating the level of foreign ownership in the industry, a survey shows.

According to the Australia Institute survey, to be published today, the public believe mining provides an average of 16 per cent of jobs across the economy.

In contrast, official figures show the industry's share of employment is 1.9 per cent, or 217,000 jobs.

Respondents thought mining made up 35 per cent of the economy, whereas it accounts for about 9 per cent of gross domestic product.

The survey also reveals that people think about half the mining industry is foreign-owned - but a recent Reserve Bank of Australia report said the figure could be about 80 per cent.

The institute's executive director, Richard Denniss, said the public had "clearly" been affected by mining advertising in recent months and during last year's tax stoush

The survey of 1370 people is part of a report on the costs - as well as benefits - of the mining bonanza called Mining the Truth, which the institute will publish today.

As well as making life harder for many exporters by driving up the dollar, the mining boom has widened the current account deficit, by increasing the amount of money flowing into Australia to fund the investment.

"We are in the middle of the biggest mining boom in history and our current account is heading back towards record highs," Dr Denniss said.

"The mining boom is simply cannibalising other exports, it's not driving a substantial increase in the total level of exports."

The report also challenges claims that household wealth is heavily exposed to mining through indirect ownership of shares via superannuation.

For the typical super fund of an employee nearing retirement, worth $71,731, the report says a 10 per cent fall in mining shares would cut the fund's value by $287.


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