North-west NSW city Dubbo’s economy is set to benefit from two major mining projects within a 30km radius of the township.
Production on one of the world’s largest zirconia and rare earth metals deposits is scheduled to begin in 2013. Additionally, the Coborra mine project is predicted to inject around $424m into the local economy. A commencement date is yet to be disclosed. An estimated 700 jobs will be created, which is likely to increase demand for mining services and supply chain demand within Dubbo city.
Richard Tegart, director of Ray White real estate in Dubbo, believes the flow-on effect from the mining projects will have an immediate impact on the property market.
“It’s only half an hour’s drive out of Dubbo; if we’re talking 700 jobs, that could well bring 200 families into Dubbo which should put some pressure on supply.”
Ken Rogers from Dubbo City Council sees potential for growth in the town’s other industries.
“The major opportunities for Dubbo lie in the support industries and services for the mines, such as education, trades, housing, community and recreational services,” he says.
Dubbo is already home to a growing population of around 41,000, with projections of 47,000 by 2036 according to ABS figures.
Catering to the north-west of New South Wales, Dubbo is only a five-hour drive to Sydney, and four hours to Canberra and Newcastle. With the Newall and Mitchell highways at its doorstep, the region is well connected to other major townships of Orange, Bathurst and Forbes. The city is served by The Main Western Railway Line, and Dubbo airport provides passenger transport services to Sydney and Broken Hill. The council has assigned $11.5m to carry out upgrades that will cater for larger aircraft.
Despite being in the centre of a traditional agricultural region, Dubbo has a low reliance on this industry, which highlights the diversity of the local economy. Other service-based and industrial sectors such as construction and healthcare appear to be the main drivers of late. With a quarter of Dubbo’s population tipped to fall in the 65-plus bracket by 2036, it’s likely there’ll be a further increase in demand for health services and aged care facilities.
As for the long term, Rogers says the council is one step ahead in plans for an increasing population.
“The Orana Mall shopping centre is about to embark on a $22m expansion, and Dubbo Base Hospital has plans for a $100m redevelopment. The council has planned infrastructure to cater for a population of 55,000 growing from the current figure of 42,000.
“[The] council has also prepared a new Local Environmental Plan for the city which provides for the release of around 5,000 residential allotments, an expanded CBD footprint, and significantly expanded industrial areas to accommodate growth over the next two to three decades,” says Rogers.
Of the other major industries, manufacturing, wholesale and transport have all experienced significant expansion in recent years, particularly the wholesale trade, with per annum growth of 22.4% for the last three years up to 2009.
As a whole, the Dubbo economy averaged 8.5% annual growth for the period of 2006-2009, trumping the state average of 7%.
The economic activity has created significant scope for capital growth and strong yields, and is likely to reap rewards when the two big mining projects kick in over the next couple of years.