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In the lead up to our 7th Annual Mining South Australia Conference, we will be showcasing 3 editions of interviews with the event’s key supporter organisations: Civil Contractors Federation SA, Whyalla Chamber of Commerce & Industry, South Australia Freight Council, Port Pirie Regional Council & Whyalla City Council. In this third and last edition, we asked our supporters what they consider to be the most exciting developments in the resource sector and how can South Australia benefit from it?
Advances in exploration technology have and will continue to lead to the discovery of commercially viable mines. The Government and the community are now much more aware of the potential of the resources industry to add to the growth and prosperity of South Australia including regional development. As a consequence the resources sector carries a great deal more support than it did in days gone by.
South Australia has been a leader in the extraction and delivery of energy for many years. With the emergence of unconventional gas developments in the Cooper Basin, offshore exploration in the Great Australian Bight, the increasing presence of major energy companies in the state and regulatory and community conditions that are amenable to resource development, the energy sector holds great promise in South Australia.
The state already has great competitive advantage in this field and it is one we can build upon. From our educational facilities to the numerous innovative manufacturers and service providers already operating in this sector, there is great capacity to be generated amongst our regional industries and communities provided we stay at the forefront of technological innovation and cost-competiveness.
Over the coming years, and maybe even decades, South Australia will see many mines develop across a broad range of commodities, be that iron ore, copper, gold, uranium and a host of other ores.
The expanding mining sector represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the community as a whole to benefit through the increased economic activity that the sector will bring, leading to increased jobs and general prosperity.
Whilst all commodities present great opportunities for development, from a transport and logistics perspective, and by virtue of the sheer volumes involved, it is the iron ore mines being investigated that represent the greatest potential for substantial new business, and the development of new transport infrastructures.
These new transport infrastructures will generally be based around common use infrastructure benefitting a variety of users, including non-mining industry sectors and individual businesses, as well as commuters and general communities through enhanced connectivity and improved efficiency in their supply chains.
New passing lanes and crossing loops, sealed shoulders, town bypasses and where appropriate, duplication of infrastructure will expand capacity, improving the interaction of the transport sector and its customers with other network users.
When circumstances align, new and upgraded ports can benefit other bulk industry sectors such as the grain sector shifting to more modern facilities.
It will not occur without a lot of hard work by a lot of people, nor will it occur without coordination and facilitation of these efforts at a Federal, State and local level, and between industry and governments.
There are some good mineral sands reserves and there are some good iron ore deposits such as Peculiar Knob, but of course once Olympic Dam undertakes its second phase development, this will have the largest long term effect on the South Australian economy.
However I think this project needs to overcome some technical hurdles and with the acquisition of a co-venturer, this will indeed be the biggest project in South Australia. I also think that the gas sector will remain strong despite fluctuations in the world market for other resources.
The recent announcement that BHP Billiton is “absolutely determined to expand Olympic Dam” with its copper, uranium, gold and silver is the most exciting development in South Australia since the company’s previous announcement to defer Olympic Dam Expansion (ODX).
And the continued development of SANTOS – South Australia’s largest publicly listed company – must bring much confidence to the State even if much of this is happening outside of South Australia.
And critical to this has and must continue to be PACE – the South Australian Government’s Plan for Accelerating Exploration.