Whether we like it or not, we are a mining nation. Mining has always been an important part of the Australian economy, but has been edged out of our mythology by romantic images of the farmer and the jolly swagman. There are many aspects of contemporary mining that make us uneasy. Mining forces us to depend on foreign clients and capital supplies, it depletes and damages the environment and does not fully reward traditional owners. It employs relatively few Australians and places in danger those who are in work. But few of us aren’t touched by its benefits and the recent mining boom has given us the best of both worlds – the cash without the dirty finger nails., so we need to understand it and stop pretending it should not happen. We are Asia’s quarry, a lucky country, not a clever one. It’s time to stop pretending any different and take responsibility for what we sell.
Malcolm Knox is the award-winning author, journalist, and former Literary Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, where he famously broke the Walkley Award-winning Norma Khouri story Award. He is the author of many fiction and non-fiction books, including the Ned Kelly Award-winning A Private Man and The Captains.