overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas
development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012
5.5 Economic impacts
Economic impacts of CSG are difficult to estimate and have not
yet been properly studied. Most of the evidence so far for economic impacts from
CSG development is either anecdotal or based on economic modelling by mining
There are both positive and negative economic impacts
associated with CSG development. Economic growth is considered an important part
of modern society and CSG provides another resource that can further the
Currently the emerging CSG industry in the Surat Basin,
Queensland is estimated to be worth around $100 billion and can provide around
12,500 jobs for Australia (Advance Western Downs, 2010).
While this is in some
respects a very positive impact, the direction of benefits from CSG development
is not always towards the regions in which it operates.
Some of the major players in Australian CSG development are
foreign owned such as Arrow Energy, QGC and ConocoPhillips meaning that many of
those profits will not remain in Australia (Moran, 2012).
Furthermore many of the 12,500 jobs will be fly-in-fly-out
qualified workers and not local people. In Moranbah, QLD, CSG development has
seen huge influxes of temporary workers into small towns causing long term
residents to sell their houses to mining companies who rent them to mine workers
or knock them down and turn them into workers camps (Carlisle, 2012).
Median house prices have more than doubled and selling rates
(Figure 7) in Moranbah have increased rapidly since CSG development began in the
early 2000’s (Residential Tenancies Authority, 2012). This trend has forced
Moranbah locals to move unable to handle the rising rent prices (Lagan, 2012).
Loss of long term residents means loss of the local workforce
and this has forced many businesses to close down (Saggers, 2012).
Even Moranbah’s KFC has to shorten their opening hours and the
general store shut down after losing 200 customers (Carlisle, 2012).
Figure 7. Median sale prices and number of sales in Morandbah,
Queensland from 1997 to 2012 (Figure from Median rents quick finder, Residential
Tenancies Authority, 2012) .
In other areas If using the theory of economic efficiency or
pareto-optimality it is understood that in a market that reaches equilibrium it
is impossible to make someone better off without making someone else worse off (Asafu-adjaye,
It seems that this theory may apply in CSG development where
large economic profits are likely to be created to the detriment of local and
5.6 Cumulative impacts
Cumulative impacts refer to the additional effects of impacts
added to past, present and foreseeable impacts which are difficult and most
often not assessed in Environmental Impact Assessments (Burris and Canter,
The NSW Government Inquiry (2012) into coal seam gas
acknowledges the need for more research into the cumulative impacts of the
relatively new CSG industry.
GeoScience Australia (2010) concludes that the perhaps most
significant issue in CSG development is the uncertainty around possible
cumulative, regional scale impacts.
Lack of data sharing by coal seam gas companies is a
significant hindrance to the development of quality science and more accurate
assessment of cumulative impacts (NSW Government, 2012).
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