Economic Spotlight on Ashburton


Case Studies

The Client

The Shire of Ashburton


The local council needed an in-depth economic an workforce analysis of the region to support developing an Economic Development Strategy

Our Method

.id developed a report that highlighted the large changes to the economy and community over the last 20 years from major resource developments and explored future opportunities to diversify the economy.


We highlighted the unparalleled shifts in resident and workforce population due to major FIFO activity and identified the competitive strengths and challenges of the local economy compared to neighbouring shires in the Pilbara.


The outcome for the council is evidence-based insights that informed and supported the Council economic decision making, focusing on industrial growth, demographic changes, and infrastructure needs.

Economic and Demographic Spotlight on Ashburton

In 2023, our consultants conducted a comprehensive analysis of Ashburton's economy, workforce, and employed resident base. The local council were keen to explore the effects of major resource projects, the impact of a large FIFO population, and opportunities for diversification. Here's what we found.

Economic dependence on extractive industries

Ashburton's economy is heavily reliant on mining and construction related to major gas and iron ore projects. This dependence has driven significant economic growth, particularly during the construction phase of large-scale projects.

Volatile employment trends

Employment levels in Ashburton have fluctuated dramatically, peaking during major construction projects and declining sharply upon their completion. This has resulted in a transient workforce and a significant drop in population, making economic stability a challenge.

Demographic shifts

The population of Ashburton is younger and predominantly male, with a notable representation of Indigenous and overseas-born workers. Migration patterns show an influx of residents during construction booms and an exodus once projects end - the largest in Australia between 2016 and 2021, leading to fluctuating demand for local services.

Under-represented sectors

Some key population servicing sectors such as Health and Social Assistance Services are significantly underrepresented compared to neighbouring areas, even after analysis factors in the over-representation of the mining industry. This lack of diversification limits the region's economic resilience and growth potential in non-extractive industries.

Future growth opportunities and challenges

Future growth in Ashburton is tied to ongoing demand for gas and iron ore. However, there is potential for growth in renewable energy, critical minerals, tourism, agriculture, and education. The region needs focused infrastructure developments to enable emerging sectors and potentially better community facilities in the larger townships to support sustained growth in its resident base.

About our economic consulting team

Our economic consulting team is engaged by councils and organisations across Australia to provide in-depth insights behind the data. Our experts draw on their knowledge of urban and regional economic development and years of experience working with decision makers across Australia. This information is used by councils to develop evidence based economic development strategies, investment attraction plans and support grant applications.

If you need help on a project, please contact us and we will get in touch.

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