While Australia is still navigating the fallout of COVID-19, some forecasters are pointing to a ‘roaring twenties’ for the Australian economy post-pandemic. There’s certainly an optimistic outlook in the NT mining industry.
“This is a really exciting time for the Territory’s minerals sector” says Drew Wagner, Executive Director of the NT Division of the Mineral Council of Australia (MCA).
“With new projects, new commodities hitherto unseen in the NT moving towards production and the large number of proposed projects currently on the books, it’s clear that the immediate future has immense potential for growth, investment and development.”
A Broad Rollout of Vaccines is Essential for the Minerals Sector
Drew acknowledges that there are still hurdles to jump. “We will face challenges, including the availability of skilled workers and logistical difficulties created by the pandemic, but a more rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations will hold us in good stead in the second half of the year.”
Drew will be speaking at the ‘Mining the Territory’ conference at NT Resources Week, 1-2 September in Darwin. It’s one of the most important annual events for the sector, which will bring the industry together for project updates, technological developments and policy and regulatory changes.
Drew will be taking part in a panel on the Northern Territory’s new code of conduct for explorers and landowners, which is designed to help clarify rights and obligations better.
“The code will underpin better engagement for a strong and ongoing relationship between leaseholders, both pastoral and mineral,” says Drew.
“Some of these relationships can be multigenerational, so to start them off on the right foot is very important – particularly in understanding your rights and obligations as leaseholders and access arrangements to support a good relationship.”
Of course, COVID-19 will continue to cause challenges for industries across Australia. Drew says that that the NT minerals industry has responded swiftly and strongly to the challenges of the past 18 months, facilitating the smooth movement of workers, interaction with remote communities, supply and availability of equipment and the ongoing mental health of our workforce.
“We’re now working in partnership to support faster and broader vaccine rollout based on the industry’s core value and commitment – the safety, health and psychological wellbeing of our workforce. We will be continuing to promote vaccination to protect workers, their family and friends and local communities as we support the national vaccination rollout across operational sites and nearby communities.”
The disruptions of the past year have also proved challenging for the Critical Minerals Program and positioning the Northern Territory as a source of minerals for international investment.
“There have certainly been challenges aplenty! However, through the protocols developed by industry, and accepted by the NT’s Chief Health Officer, we have continued to support the community, the economy and our regions.”
“Investment has previously been difficult to attract, however there has been progress on a number of projects in recent months and many of these are now ready to be taken to the market for investment. We will be working hard with the project proponents and the NT Government, so these projects become operational soon to create jobs and support the Territory’s economic recovery.”
Discuss the future of the Australian minerals sector with Drew Wagner and other leading industry figures at the ‘Mining the Territory’ conference at NT Resources Week, 1-2 September at the Darwin Convention Centre.