State’s resources sector in period of transition

Industry forum hears that State has reached $121 billion dollar milestone.
Date: Monday, 20 October 2014

Minister says Western Australia’s resources sector is building towards production and exports after a long capital investment phase. 

The days of high capital investment in new or expanding projects in Western Australia are giving way to a future of higher levels of production and exports.

That was the message from Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion as he opened the WA Annual Resources Overview in Perth on Friday, 17 October.

Co-hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME), the annual overview is considered to be the State’s premier mining and oil and gas forum.

The Minister told the audience that although the price of iron was low at the moment, it was important to remember that Western Australia was going through a period of transition.

He said that the State was moving towards a future of higher levels of production and exports after a long period of high capital investment.

“We can see this happening when we look at the soaring value of Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry,” Mr Marmion said.

“The State reached a new milestone of $121.6 billion dollars last financial year – 20 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year.

“And there is continuing capital investment in the State’s resources sector.
Just last month it was estimated that about $160 billion dollars’ worth of resource projects were under construction or at the committed stage.”

The Minister said that on the debit side of the ledger, exploration investment was down.

“That’s not a surprise considering the current swing of the commodities cycle and a global trend for companies to cut back on their exploration programs,” he said.

“It’s why the State Government introduced the co-funded drilling program in 2009 to encourage new innovative exploration in greenfields areas.”

Mr Marmion said this had been a key strategy in the State Government’s $80-million-dollar Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) which was able to refund up to 50 per cent of drilling costs.

“The State Government is committed to funding the scheme up to June 2017 and by that time we will have pumped in more than $130 million dollars,” he said.

The co-funded program had offered $50 million dollars to 466 projects and been a catalyst for discoveries including Nova nickel, Oxley potash, Handpump gold, Yeneena copper, and East Tropicana gold.

Mr Marmion congratulated the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) on the drive it started in 2009 to cut red tape to reduce imposts on industry after the government identified serious problems in the approvals process.

“Some good thinking and hard work mean that we now have a seamless system that operates predominantly online and is genuinely open and transparent,” he said.

“I’m pleased to be able to tell you that the backlog of mineral title applications are now at their lowest level for nearly 20 years.

“DMP publishes its approvals performance online each quarter so anyone can see how they’re travelling and I can tell you that they’re travelling well.”

Mr Marmion said that in the second quarter of this year 97 per cent of Programme of Work (PoW) applications and 92 per cent of Mining Proposals had been finalised within the timeline target of 30 business days.