Key facts about Western Australia
Western Australia welcomes foreign investment and business migration, and offers a great climate for investors. The State provides a secure place for resources sector investment through its supportive government, strong economy, mature financial and support service sectors, and skilled workforce.
Its close proximity and economic links to key export markets in Asia as well as sharing a similar time zone with 60% of the world’s population, including China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, make Western Australia an attractive destination for doing business.
2014–15 Statistics Digest
Western Australia is one of the most diverse resource regions in the world, with more than 50 mineral and petroleum products being produced in commercial quantities.
The State is a significant operating base for the world’s largest diversified mining companies and a global leader for specific commodities.
Continued export growth is predicted for Western Australia’s resources industry, and medium- and long-term prospects appear positive.
In 2014–15, the value of sales from Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry was $99.5 billion.
Together iron ore and gold accounted for $62.8 billion in sales, while sales from the petroleum sector were valued at $24 billion.
Western Australia remained the nation’s leading mining investment destination, attracting 60% of the total national capital spending of $76 billion.
As at September 2015, Western Australia had an estimated $171 billion worth of resource projects under construction or in the committed stage of development.
A further $111 billion worth of projects has been identified as planned or possible in coming years.
For more statistics on Western Australia's resources, visit the Statistics Digest.
The Western Australian Government continues to increase regulatory transparency, and streamline and accelerate its resources approvals timelines.
Each year the Department of Mines and Petroleum processes around 8000 applications.
In 2014–15, the department received 4,417 mining tenement applications, processing 96% of these within the target timeline of 65 business days. It also received 240 petroleum applications, with 100% of these completed within the target timelines.
For large and complex projects, the department assigns case managers to facilitate responsible development.
The department also offers online application and approval tracking services. By July 2016, the department aims to conduct all its transactions online including applications, fees, submissions and correspondence. This will provide more certainty of processes and a reduction in assessment timelines for industry.
Since 2009, the Western Australian Government has provided about $110 million to support greenfields exploration through its Exploration Investment Scheme (EIS). The government recently committed a further $10 million per year to the Scheme until June 2017. A recent economic review estimated every one million dollars invested by the Scheme results in $10.3 million in exploration benefits for Western Australia.
Under the Scheme’s competitive Co-funded Exploration Drilling Program, successful companies can claim refunds up to 50% of direct drilling costs.
Since its commencement in 2009, the program has co-funded about 280 projects — resulting in a number of discoveries including:
- Nova–Bollinger nickel project in the Fraser Range east of Norseman
- Tropicana East Gold Mine project northeast of Kalgoorlie
- Handpump gold discovery in the West Musgrave region
- Webb Diamond Project in the Gibson Desert
- Oxley potash project near Three Springs
- Camelwood nickel project northeast of Leinster
- Yeneena copper project in the Paterson Province
- MacIntosh graphite project in the East Kimberley
- Lake Mackay uranium project in the Lake Mackay region
- Speewah vanadium–uranium project in the East Kimberley.
Many of these projects have also benefited from the government’s $46 million investment in precompetitive geophysics. Visit Geological Survey of Western Australia for more information.
Research and technology
Western Australia is at the forefront of research and technology advancements to support the evolving needs of the resources sector.
The State Government established the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) to support the resources sector with high-quality research and professionals. The Institute funds projects working to develop resources industry opportunities and solutions, and offers a post-graduate scholarship program for future scientific professionals such as engineers and geologists.
Western Australia is home to BHP Billiton’s Remote Operations Centres, which allow the monitoring and operation of mining equipment at a 1000 kilometre distance, Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program, which has resulted in development of an autonomous drill rig platform and autonomous haul trucks, and Chevron’s Global Technology Centre.
The State also has a strong focus on resource-related research. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation bases the majority of its mineral exploration research at Perth’s Australia Resources Research Centre and has access to a new super computer at the Pawsey Centre. Perth also hosts the John de Laeter Centre for Isotope Research, which features analytical facilities such as ion microprobes, mass spectrometers, noble gas mass spectrometers, thermochronology facilities, and laser ablation and solution instruments.
The University of Western Australia and Curtin University offer degrees and higher degrees in geoscience, mining and petroleum engineering, as well as environmental science, surveying, and resource economics, finance and law. Murdoch University has a course in extractive metallurgy.
In addition, Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines is recognised as one of the finest mining and minerals education facilities in the world. It is known for its excellence in practical and applied mining research. Based in Kalgoorlie, it allows geology, mining and metallurgy students to complete their studies in one of the world’s foremost mining regions.
Mining support services
Western Australia accounts for more than 25% of the $90 billion Australian mining equipment and technology support services industry.
Perth has Australia’s largest concentration of global resources companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, South32, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Woodside Petroleum, Inpex, Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold, all of which provide excellent collaborative prospects and access to global supply chains.