IN THE eight years since the annual Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum started in Kalgoorlie, it’s become quite clear there is nothing else like it anywhere in the world.

The program for this year’s three-day conference that started on Monday leaves no doubt it will live up to its reputation again. It is certainly not surprising that this year the forum has attracted 843 delegates – the maximum it can handle.

It includes presentations by 36 companies and 78 displays housed in what the organisers say is the biggest marquee in the southern hemisphere. Bought especially for the event, the marquee has a 50 metre clear span.

THERE have been strong rumours that a number of big deals are being lined up in the mining industry.

Western Australia is certainly in a strong position to attract new investment and this is reflected in the keen interest from overseas as well as Australian mining companies joining Diggers and Dealers this week.

Some of South Africa’s big names in mining including AngloGold, Gold Fields and Harmony are among those here.

All big mining investors in their own right, it is the first time we have seen all three here together – and with their display booths side-by-side in the exhibition area.

WITH the focus on mining, it is worth noting the industry’s success in creating a partnership between the so-called ‘old’ economy and the ‘new’ economy – the technology era.

One example of this is the mining industry’s entry into the computer software development field.

Australia’s mining industry now supplies more than 60 per cent of the world’s mines with mining-related software in areas including engineering, exploration, health, safety and even catering.

Our export of mining-related intellectual property was recently recorded at around $1.2 billion.

On present trends, this means that, by 2005, mining-related intellectual property will be the country’s fifth biggest mining export.

THE latest employment figures have again highlighted the strength of Western Australia’s economy and the high level of consumer and business confidence here.

The unemployment rate was down to 5.9 per cent in June with only NSW (5.8 per cent) recording a lower rate of unemployment.

It is especially important to note the longer-term trend that shows a steady decrease in unemployment in Western Australia since this Government came to office.

CONGRATULATIONS to managing editor Harry Kleyn and Business News on the decision to publish weekly from now on.

The paper is a valuable source of information about the Western Australian business sector and I look forward to its continued success.

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