The economic miracle
50 years ago this week in Blackwater an event occurred that defined Central Queensland
Wednesday 07 June 2017
This week, BHP celebrated its 50-year partnership with Japan at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.
In economic terms, it has been a match made in heaven, with Australia, a willing supplier of steel making and energy commodities to the Japanese economic miracle that followed the decimation of World War II.
According to BHP’s Japan-based Michael Cojerian, the first sale of Metallurgical coal in 1967 from the Blackwater mine was a foundation stone in the building of Queensland’s mining sector and economy.
“In 1967 the Japanese economy was on quite a winning streak,” he said.
“ It was on the verge of quadrupling its immediate post-war standard of living, and GDP per capita growth had been compounding at more than 8% per year for one and a half decades.
“It's steel output per capita had reached 625kgs, which was a 14-fold rise since 1950.
“In 1967, the stock of steel in use in Japan was three tonnes per capita, and that doubled to six in 1976, and it had doubled to 12 in 2002, and it sits close to 14 today.”
“It is no surprise that the beginnings of the BHP-Japan commercial relationship in 1967 saw Japan vault into position as Australia’s number one export destination in 1967-68, a position it held for another four decades until 2008-09.”
In celebrating the relationship in Japan BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie echoed that sentiment.
“Both BHP and Australia owe much to Japan for the development of the resources industry,” he said.
“In 1967 BHP and Japan became partners when Japanese steel mills signed long-term contracts for coking coal from our Blackwater mine in Queensland.
“It was also the year that we entered into a partnership with Mitsui and ITOCHU in the Western Australian Mount Whaleback iron ore project.
“As trading companies, they were a crucial link into Japanese markets.
“As Japan’s economy grew, the iron ore and coal we exported came back to Australia as high-quality manufactured products such as motor vehicles, Komatsu trucks and the rolling stock and rail equipment our industry relies on.”