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19 June 2020
The Federal Government is completing plans to turbocharge the mining industry in order to generate jobs and cut green tape to get more projects authorized.
The final stages of fine-tuning the plan comes as Minerals Council chief Tania Constable cautioned that without substantial investment in the resources sector its future contribution to the economy could drop.
She said in spite of growing tensions with China and a moderating of demand for some commodities, West Australian mining would maintain firm ties with Beijing, though demand might not be as solid.
“Mining has contributed over 19 per cent to Australian real GDP growth since 2008-2009 and we can’t expect to see the same easy pathway post-GFC through just China-led recovery,” Ms Constable told The West Australian.
“If we want to see similar growth and new jobs over the next decade, governments need to start at grassroots investment in exploration, support a business-led recovery through competitive taxation settings, workplace relations reform, deregulation and new infrastructure.
“New mines and expansions in minerals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, and rare earths will support all forms of transport infrastructure, communications and new energy systems.”
On China persisting to buy from Australia, Ms Constable said: “We are long-term suppliers and the best quality coal and other resources comes from Australia.
“The Chinese will go to high-quality areas and that’s why I know that we will continue to supply into China.”
A main review into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act by previous consumer watchdog chairman Graeme Samuel is due to be given to the Federal Government within weeks and is likely to also recommend a major overhaul of environmental assessments.
In particular, legal activism facilitated by Section 487 of the Act has put billions of dollars of investment at risk by holding up major projects in court and is expected to be recommended for review.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt is understood to have been working on several options over how to secure and generate more jobs in mining and improve the national balance sheet.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley has previously said she hoped to put legislation to the Parliament by August. The Minerals Council has written to the Prime Minister calling for a “sustained economic strategy” that leads to growth in the sector over the next year as Australia grapples with recession.
It includes advancing environmental approvals, the reform of greenfields agreements, increasing incentives for exploration and developing skills on the ground with the current and future workforce.
The latest trade figures revealed the resources sector was already helping to buoy the economy with exports up 1.4 per cent to $92.1 billion