SUNRISE international affairs personality Dr Keith Suter told audiences at the Xstrata Mining Expo that it was time the North West was better represented in Australian's national economic discussions.
Visiting mining's heartland in the North West, Dr Suter said economists, politicians and media figures located in what he called the iron triangle, made up of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, had little to no awareness of life in the North West.
"The people up here eat, breathe and sleep mining but most people don't," he said.
"Most people in Sydney, where I live, have never met a miner. We spend your money but we don't actually ever meet the miners."
Dr Suter said one of the greatest long-term challenges for the region to unlock its potential was addressing the lack of long-term infrastructure planning.
Having done his homework on the issue, he mentioned the city's on-going council battle over the need for a new sewerage system as something topping Mount Isa's to-do infrastructure list.
Two of the biggest issues he mentioned in talks to business people, engineers and miners under the white tent was the need for proper representation of the North West and of the Australian mining industry.
"My feeling is that mining has a bigger impact on the economy than they are given credit for," Dr Suter said.
"We've re-classified a lot of economic activity into the service sector and an economist in Sydney or Melbourne would say that mining only employs a small number of people because they believe most people in the service sector are making cappuccinos in Sydney.
"Buried in those service figures are the people who provide the service to the mining industry."
Political under-representation of the resource-rich North West region was another piece of evidence Mr Suter said showed the gap between Mount Isa's understanding and Australia's financial capitals understanding of the mining industry's contributions.
"If you draw a line from Pilbara in the north across to here you only have 5 members of parliament in the House of Representatives, and you have 145 for the rest of Australia," he said.
The iron triangle dominates us in terms of politics, the media and finance, and yet Australia's new frontier is north of that line.
"This is the new frontier for Australia and we just have to keep hammering that home."