Saturday, 06 June 2020 Sydney

Melbourne - a global hub for mining business and services::

The downturn in Australian mining and construction has been well documented but the industry is far from suffering.  In fact, it has burst its banks and has spilled out into becoming a global industry - with Melbourne the hub.

More than 100 mining and resources companies reside in Melbourne's CBD, including the big hitters like Rio Tinto and BHP.

Real growth has come because of the rise of mining equipment, technology and services (METS), where Victoria is the largest exporter in Australia.

It is an industry that reaped in $17 billion in 2012 alone and multi billions each year..

This hive of activity has attracted the likes of private equity manager firm EMR Capital, which taps into Melbourne's rich talent resources to service this rising hub of Australian - and global - mining.

Why did EMR Capital choose to set up its mining private equity group here in Melbourne?

Melbourne was the natural fit for EMR Capital, with many of its executives having lived and worked in the city their entire lives.

Chief executive officer Jason Chang said being where the history and expertise was made the decision a no-brainer.

"A lot of the people behind EMR are people who have worked in mining and therefore have been based in Melbourne all their lives. We've got a good team here, mainly from a mining operational background, certainly executives who have exposure and focus on the mining sector for the last 30-40 years."

A growing number of large-scale Chinese mining companies are making Melbourne an offshore home base, providing another attraction for companies like EMR to operate out of the city.

"We've got MMG here which is really one of the most successful Chinese overseas investment platforms. China Minerals is one of the China's most respected and most successful Chinese companies," Mr Chang says.

What advantages exist for managing a globally focussed investment group centred in Melbourne?

Forecasts predict China will need to build the equivalent of all the housing in Singapore 15 times over in the next decade. This requires a prolific amount of material.

"We see a lot of buyer traffic. China is buying half of the world's metal in mining projects available for sale, that traffic is very key. Standing here in the centre of this traffic is where you really want to be as an investor," says Mr Chang.

Tapping into Victoria's rich mining heritage.

Melbourne has long been the Australian heartland of mining, dating back to the gold rush of the 1850s and extending on with base metal mining from the 1880s, creating a rich pedigree of knowledge.

"There is history, and with history comes expertise so a lot of the mining executives are actually based in Melbourne. You've got good expertise, intellectual property and technology in many forms. With EMR, it was a very simple decision. We want to be where the technology and expertise is, he says.

The University of Western Australia's Ian Satchwell was the co-author of the Sharing the Benefits: enhancing Australia's global leadership in the mining value chain report. He says Melbourne's historic place at the centre of mining was evolving.

"Melbourne has always been a mining capital. But what we're seeing now is a growth behind mining. It's an expansion of the sector into knowledge and technology rich fields in mining services. There is very definitely a cluster effect there."

What are the benefits to the mining sector and the Victorian professional services and business community as a result of increased levels of mining investment and finance?

As a result of the growth of Melbourne as a mining hub, it is where the new players want to be.

They are enjoying enormous success, with Newcrest Mining posting 83 per cent growth since inception.

"Global growth is part of the mining phenomenon, we've always had the CRAs and BHPs, but in more recent times we've seen the Newcrests, and now we've got MMG which is both Australian and Hong Kong listed," Professor Satchwell says.

"We've got a growing number of junior companies coming through that are able to access and then deploy globally the skills knowledge and technology required to make them competitive in resource rich destinations around the world."