Productivity concerns keeping mining bosses awake at night

LABOUR shortages, recruitment and retention, budgets and timely delivery used to be the biggest concerns for the mining industry, but now it is productivity that is keeping its leaders awake at night.

Demonstrating the sector's shifting focus, the spotlight is now set on the measures needed to survive in today's difficult conditions.

The latest Mining Business Outlook report, with data collected from more than 50 leaders in the industry, detailed this rising concern, and other causes of sleeplessness including competitiveness, tax and unions and volatile commodity prices.

The report also revealed that 84% of mining leaders were not optimistic about their growth prospects.

Despite this, the document stated that for the first time in three years, leaders were "marginally more optimistic", mostly thanks to signs of price stabilisation and the closure of high-cost mines; but were critical of the industrial relations system as being "unfair and strongly biased in favour of the unions".

Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche said confidence could be further boosted by governments.

"Domestically, confidence would be boosted by clear commitments from governments to take advantage of the current downturn and prepare to take advantage of the inevitable rebound in demand for minerals and energy," he said.

"Historically, governments have invested in industry development infrastructure, and that's something we think should be revived.

"Particularly in the context of opening up new provinces such as the Galilee Basin, and helping the North West Mineral Province centred on Mount Isa reach its full potential."

Mr Roche also said Australians should be reminded that their standard of living was tied to the fortunes of export sectors.

He said 17,000 Queensland businesses were supported by resource sector spending on goods and services.