Commonwealth delivers funding, new sector review

THE Turnbull government has splashed a bundle of cash at the resources sector ahead of May’s 2018 Budget, offering some A$50 million for the mining sector and $26 million to gas companies, and the established of the Resources 2030 Taskforce to help set the national agenda.
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Haydn Black


The $50 million in funding for minerals exploration and research is aimed at better equipping the mining and resources sector to manage future challenges

The cash will come from the Cooperative Research Centre program that supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the MinEx CRC, would "create new mining opportunities" by providing "new opportunities for mineral discovery in the resources sector and grow the mining equipment, technology and services sector".

"The MinEx CRC aims to deliver more productive, safer and environmentally friendly drilling methods, introduce new technologies for collecting data while drilling, and new exploration data on never-before-sampled rocks across the continent," he said.

Assistant Science and Innovation Minister Zed Seselja, who was on hand to help launch the MinEx CRC said the wider program was Australia's longest-running grant program. Some $4.4 billion has been invested by both Labor and conservative governments since its inception.

"MinEx CRC will receive $50 million in government funding, and is set to leverage a further $165 million of cash and in-kind funding from CRC participants," Seselja said.

Further, the Resources 2030 Taskforce will be charged with identifying reforms for the sector's future.

"Mining has never been as important to the global economy as it is now. The modern world relies on a more diverse list of minerals for a greater range of products than at any other time," Canavan said.

"There are more than 25 minerals or metals that go into the construction of a mobile phone, and 18 of them are produced in Australia. There are 16 minerals and metals that go into the manufacture of a solar panel, Australia produces 10 of them.

"The mining boom is not over. Mining is as important as it has ever been and its importance to the Australian economy is only likely to increase."

He said Australia needed to "stay ahead of the game" and develop new ways of working, new ideas and new technologies.

The taskforce, to be led by former Queensland LNP MP Andrew Cripps will examine policies that can "attract investment, contribute to regional economic progress, build community support, cut red tape, find new minerals, and ensure that Australia gets best use of its mineral resources before they are exported".

Cripps will be supported by Association of Mining and Exploration Companies president and Encounter Resources boss Will Robinson, Whitehaven Coal CEO Paul Flynn, BHP executive Mike Henry, NOPSEMA chair Erica Smyth, Mt Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch, indigenous leader Marcia Langton and ex-Geoscience Australia CEO Chris Pigram.

A report will be developed by August, to feed into a government resource statement, the first in almost 20 years.

Minerals Council of Australia interim CEO David Byers said the voices of Henry and Flynn, both MCA directors, would ensure the review had strong input from the sector.

He hoped the industry-dominated group would help deliver a competitive energy policy, workplace reforms, streamline approvals and reduce "Australia's uncompetitive corporate tax rate", something the Turnbull government has so far failed to achieve.

The $26 million gas GAP will help source an additional 27.6 petajoules of gas over five years across Armour Energy's Kincora, Westside Corporation's Greater Meridian and Tri-Star Energy's Rolleston projects in the Bowen-Surat Basin in Queensland and Beach Energy's Katnook gas plant expansion in South Australia.