Around 70% of the residents of Hunter Valley in Australia recognise the benefits of mining in their region, according to research undertaken by the NSW Minerals Council.

Research was carried out by Crosby Textor in response to the report, Seeing Through the Dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley Economy, released by The Australia Institute (TAI).

The TAI report claimed that around 83% of Hunter Valley residents did not want the coal industry to expand, while 41% would prefer it to decrease or phase out completely.

The report allegedly over-estimated the number of people the coal industry employs by four times, and stated that coal royalties contribute ten times more income to the NSW budget than is the case.

"Thousands of people showed up at the Knights game…in their high-vis mining gear to show their support for mining."

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said: "This latest attack on Hunter mining is an insult to the 15,000 local workers and their families who rely on mining for their livelihoods. It’s also particularly insensitive given mining in Hunter is going through tough times and people are losing their jobs."

Report author Roderick Campbell said the significant difference between the perceptions of local residents and the reality of the industry’s economic contribution sadly confirms how successful the industry has been in inflating its importance.

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"The coal industry’s public statements invariably emphasise its apparent economic importance. But when the industry is placed in context we see that coal is not the bedrock of the Hunter economy," Campbell said.

"The reality is that 95% of Hunter workers do not work in the coal industry and only 2% of NSW Government revenue comes from coal royalties."

Meanwhile, an NSW Minerals Council survey last year found that 4,871 local Hunter businesses were directly supported through spending by the Hunter mining industry, which accounted for $6.3bn of businesses, wages and community contributions.

Galilee said that this represents $6.3bn of real spending with real Hunter businesses, creating real Hunter jobs.

"The Australia Institute is living in a parallel universe if it believes this is a not an important contribution to the Hunter community," Galilee added.

"Thousands of people showed up at the Knights game last weekend in their high-vis mining gear to show their support for mining, a clear contrast to this latest ideologically-driven anti-mining exercise from the Australia Institute."