Plenty in Budget for miners

MINING industry groups have welcomed last night’s federal Budget, which included initiatives to aid the sector.
Plenty in Budget for miners Plenty in Budget for miners Plenty in Budget for miners Plenty in Budget for miners Plenty in Budget for miners

Federal resources minister Keith Pitt

Staff reporter

Federal minister for resources Keith Pitt said measures worth more than A$250 million would build stronger regions and strengthen Australia's critical minerals sector to become more globally competitive.

"Australia possesses extraordinary reserves of the critical minerals crucial to many industries including medical equipment production, defence, aerospace, automotive and agritech," he said.

"Through these Budget measures, we are delivering long-term support to the resources and energy sector, which creates jobs and growth opportunities, especially in regional Australia. That means a stronger economy and a stronger future for regional Australia.

"These new initiatives build on previous Budget measures to help resource companies gain entry to new export markets and unlock vast gas reserves."

Budget measures included $200 million over five years for the Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative and $50.5 million over three years for a virtual National Critical Minerals Research and Development Centre which will build Australian capability in critical minerals processing, target technical bottlenecks in strategic supply chains, and drive breakthrough collaborative research.

This is in addition to the $294.2 million already committed by the government to resources and critical minerals jobs and skills through the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

These measures build on previous budget commitments including $20 million to deliver the Global Resources Strategy to improve access to key export markets; $124.5 million to fund an expanded Exploring for the Future Program to improve understanding of the nation's minerals, energy and groundwater resource potential; and $100 million to extend the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive.

"Australia is responding to global demand for gas and critical minerals with our large reserves, technical expertise and a track record as a reliable and responsible supplier," Pitt said.

"We have the potential to do so much more and we are taking action to ensure Australia's critical minerals sector goes from strength to strength."

Industry groups also welcomed the investments in skills and infrastructure.

"The mining industry can expect to be a beneficiary of the government's focus on boosting skills, with a $3.7 billion increase in funding under a new National Skills Agreement which could deliver an additional 800,000 training places," Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce said. 

"This builds on the $2.8 billion over 5 years from 2021-22 to upskill apprentices.

"Importantly, the permanent migration program ceiling will be lifted to 160,000 places, with the skilled stream increasing to 109,900, up some 30,000 places. This will assist the mining industry to attract desperately needed overseas skilled workers to support new project development and continued growth."

Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA director of policy and advocacy Rob Carruthers said a range of initiatives would benefit the mining sector.

"These include a $1.5 billion investment in the Pilbara that will feature increased mineral processing and a strong focus on investment to create a ‘next generation export hub', with an emphasis on low emissions technologies, including renewable energy hydrogen, ammonia, and carbon capture and storage," he said.

Carruthers noted the initiatives would capitalise on the $127 billion of projects currently in the WA resources pipeline, as well as growing and diversifying Australia's resource exports.

"It's telling that the budget forecasts a further 10% increase in mining investment over the next 12 months," he said.