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Adrian Rollins Economics correspondent
Financial Review Weekend Edition 28- 29th May 2011

Each mining worker generated more than $1 million in sales for their employer during the depths of the global financial crisis, underlining the enormous riches on offer in the booming resources sector.
An official snapshot of industry performance in 2009- 10 found profitability in mining remained three times the national average, despite a 43 per cent plunge in commodity prices in the 12 months to October 2009.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics report shows that mining employees generated an average $1.063 million in sales and service income each in 2009- 10 - almost four times the national average of $242,000 - while they earned on average $117,500.
By comparison in manufacturing, sales per worker dropped below $400,000 while average income climbed to $57,000; and in retail each employee generated on average $275,000 in earnings while costing $29,400 in wages.
The figures show that although profit margins in mining fell 9 per cent between 2008-09 and 2009- 10 as the GFC sent commodity markets briefly into reverse, at 33.4 per cent they were still well ahead of the next most profitable sector, rental, hiring and real estate services, where the profit margin was 28.2 per cent. The ABS report illustrates the effects of federal government measures to stimulate activity through the worst of the global downturn, with retail profit margins and sales revenue per worker improving during 2009- 10, while massive public spending on schools and housing contributed to a $16 billion boost to construction industry income.
The findings show why the mining industry barely missed a beat during the financial crisis and, given the subsequent 50 per cent rebound in global commodity prices, is now investing so heavily.
The resources sector plans to spend $83.3 billion on capital works next financial year, making up the Bon's share of a record $139.5 billion in total private sector investment flagged for 2011-12.
AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver said that in hindsight the period covered by the ABS study constituted a brief pause in the mining boom, and the characteristics of that period - strong retail and construction activity and a downturn in mining - had since reversed sharply.