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Mining & Resources

South Australia emerges as global force in mining

14 Aug 2013, by Informa Insights

South Australia has emerged during the past decade as a proven and secure destination for resource development. Our State is home to a number of exciting developments in the mining sector either recently completed or underway.

Stable policy setting together with measures to assist and attract investment, backed by strong case management support, have quadrupled the number of major mines since 2002.

DMITREMore than $300 million a year of investment in exploration has helped to better identify the State’s rich mineral endowment such as copper, gold, iron ore, zircon, uranium, base metals, graphite and vast reserves of gas.

The South Australian Government continues to proactively drive initiatives that will uncover new discoveries in our State. The PACE 2020 initiative is recognised around the world as one of the most successful government exploration initiatives aimed at:

  • Unlocking new areas for exploration
  • Leveraging research partnerships through the resource value chain to drive performance
  • Further streamlining the process from exploration to mine development
  • Providing even better data delivery services to the resource industry.

PACE 2020 has supported South Australia’s world-leading online resource application, SARIG 2020, an integral part of delivering world-class data to industry which recently won an Australian Government Excellence in eGovernment award.

As part of its commitment to the sector, the South Australian Government announced a range of initiatives recently, including:

  • A Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence to drive innovation and performance
  • Expansion of the PACE initiative with PACE Frontiers to simulate industry activity
  • Funding for the Eyre Peninsula Land Use Support program.
Photo credit:
Photo credit:

In December last year South Australia became the first Australian state to finalise a comprehensive approach to developing unconventional gas resources: the Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects.

South Australia’s unconventional gas sector has the potential to deliver billions of dollars of investment and a new source of secure base load power for householders, industry and businesses.  While conventional gas has been produced from the Cooper Basin since 1969, new ways of exploring and new technologies are unlocking extensive and previously inaccessible sources of deep gas.

Along with its investment in the mining and gas and petroleum industries, the State Government has a strong focus on ensuring the benefits of the expansion of our resources sector flows to all South Australian communities.

South Australia again led the rankings in the latest Minerals Council of Australia Scorecard for mining project approval processes.

The scorecard, assessed by a panel of independent expert consultants, also placed South Australia first in mining regulation and administration.

This included clarity of processes, timeliness, compliance cost, government agency capability, predictability and certainty and effectiveness – all incredibly important factors in growing a sustainable mining sector.

Support for exploration and the Government’s strategy for international engagement is also leading to investment in mine development.

Mindarie heavy mineral sands mine resumed operations last December under majority ownership of Chinese company Murray Zircon. The company and its parent Orient Zirconic have taken a long-term view to securing zircon supplies from mine site to factory.

South Australia’s resurging iron ore production is now second only to Western Australia in output. Arrium’s mining business (formerly OneSteel) has steadily increased production from almost no iron ore sales pre-2007 to 12 million tonnes a year at June 2013.

A major contribution has been the progressive ramping up of production through the Middleback Ranges that today consists of 15 mine sites linked by Arrium-owned rail network and dedicated infrastructure.

Last month Arrium celebrated completion of its Whyalla port expansion and associated infrastructure, which doubles the company’s export capability. The cost-effective and timely delivery of Arrium’s developments within commercial timeframes is thanks to strong leadership and excellent project management skills. Arrium’s focus is on producing high-quality product and adding value for its Chinese clients through its technical expertise in steel-making.

The outlook for exploration looks bright with access to a vast new area of the State available through a practical framework for co-existence of mineral resources development and defence activities in the Woomera Prohibited Area developed in consultation with the Commonwealth.

A highly prospective area covering about 30 per cent of the mineral-rich Gawler Craton, the WPA already hosts four major mines producing commodities such as gold, copper and iron ore. Geoscience Australia has conservatively estimated that the Woomera Prohibited Area and surrounding region has the potential for more than $35 billion worth of undiscovered mineral wealth in copper, iron ore, gold and uranium projects in the coming decades.

During the second half of 2013, scientists have begun transporting equipment by helicopter into this remote region taking vital measurements from more than 34,000 survey stations to build up a better understanding of the region’s geological and mineral prospectivity.

Dr Paul Heithersay
Deputy Chief Executive Resources & Energy
Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy

Mining South AustraliaThe Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) is proudly supporting the 7th Annual Mining South Australia conference taking place in Whyalla on the 26th & 27th of November. Dr Paul Heithersay, Deputy Chief Executive Resources & Energy, Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy will be one of the key speakers addressing the forum.

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