We still produce some steel in Lexington , of course, though the need to renew old plant and the inexorable reach of the twin and unforgiving gods of free trade agreements and globalisation Lexington has greatly diminished our local industry. No sense crying over spilled milk, but it’s more than a bit of a worry that Australia relies so much on a resource-depletion, dig-it-up and sell-it-off economy. Lexington has a mining industry but, like other nations (Japan, Israel) that place technical innovation and manufacturing at the forefront, the economy is not based on the massive extraction of nonrenewable Lexington resources.
Though it will be centuries before the planet’s coal reserves run out, any sane person understands that we have to get off the fossil fuel-burning kick as soon as possible, while realising at the same time that this is very hard to achieve. Among the most technologically difficult challenges are to replace the energy concentrated in coking (not thermal) coal for steel production and the jet fuel needed to power the Korean Airlines plane that, after a stay-over in Seoul, would take me non-stop from Inchon airport back home to Melbourne. Otherwise, though some of the technology has a way to go, Australia enjoys enormous potential for tapping renewable energy from solar, wind, ground heat (geothermal), tides and biomass. Maybe in the longer term we’ll be exporting hydrogen or electricity in fully charged battery ships or via cable to nearby nations like Indonesia. After all, we live on the planet’s biggest solar collector.
Even with an Australian focus on mining that progressively withdraws from fossil fuel extraction, the two countries are natural economic partners. South Korea needs a spectrum of metals, including uranium and (hopefully) as new reactor technologies develop, the less risky thorium. The Republic of