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Call to save South Australia’s resources sector

South Australia’s peak body for mining and energy has called for the State’s Labor and Liberal parties to address the urgent need for infrastructure, land use access, and environmental policy reform to save South Australia’s resources sector.

Ten policy priorities requiring urgent attention to ensure a sustainable future for the State’s critical minerals, energy and exploration sectors were released by the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) last Thursday.

Jason Kuchel, Chief Executive of  SACOME said, “The State’s notorious infrastructure issues transcend to the resources sector in the form of a non-existent cape size port and insufficient transmission network, which requires the State Government to coordinate with Federal finance bodies to develop innovative funding arrangements to stimulate infrastructure projects.”

“The fact that South Australia does not have a cape size vessel port is a major hurdle for the State’s vital junior explorers, and is undoubtedly holding back minerals development that would see much-needed royalties and flow-on benefits for the State,” Kuchel said.

“If a deep-water port existed we would have between three to four additional iron ore mines already, but instead we have a case of clear market failure which needs urgent government attention.”

SACOME is also calling for the 275kV transmission line along the eastern flank of the Eyre Peninsula to be upgraded, which would bring benefits to more than just mining in the region.

“A high voltage power line would support new tourism, wind energy, property development in Port Lincoln, additional agribusiness opportunity in Port Lincoln and ensure adequate water supplies as sufficient power allows options for desalination plants,” Mr Kuchel said.

“Additionally, upgrading the Strzelecki Track would help make South Australia the preferred location for oil & gas service providers to the Cooper Basin rather than losing work to Queensland-based operations.

“These desperately needed infrastructure solutions should use as much private sector capital as possible, but Labor and Liberal must see how they can assist and work productively with the Federal Government to address this market failure.”

Along with the need for infrastructure is a policy on maximising land use access for the minerals and petroleum sectors, with recent restrictions in the Flinders Ranges, Woomera Prohibited Area and National Parks sending a negative message to potential exploration companies.

“With 32 percent of the State under some form of restriction for minerals and petroleum exploration, there is growing concern for the State’s exploration investment attractiveness,” Mr Kuchel said.

“The industry needs assurance that the State Government has policies in place that maximises access to land for exploration projects, recognising that mining and petroleum projects can bring about economic, environmental and cultural benefits both now and in the future.”

SACOME is also calling for the expansion of the current Eyre Peninsula Land Use program concept – which supports multiple land use planning and regulation – to all regions of South Australia, with an initial focus on the Yorke Peninsula and South-East.

“This will ensure communities and landowners will be better informed about multiple land use planning, and assist the industry and landholders alike in better understanding concerns surrounding shared land use,” Mr Kuchel said.

Along with South Australia’s resource potential, the State is well placed to become a national (if not world) leader in the provision of training and skills development to the resources industry. SACOME has formulated a number of initiatives and discussion points that should be on the agenda of an incoming State Government.

“Establishing a National Resources Skills Centre of Excellence in South Australia would secure our place as a leader in skills development, whilst also addressing any future skill shortages and providing training to – and potentially retaining – young South Australians,” Mr Kuchel said.

Two key environmental policy reforms are also needed to ensure the growth of the industry including streamlining environmental approval processes and reduction of green tape for minerals and petroleum projects.

“The Federal Government has already flagged their desire to create a ‘one-stop’ shop for environmental approvals to be granted to the States, and we call on the State Government to support this for the benefit of all involved in getting projects to go ahead,” Mr Kuchel said.

“A review of environmental regulation should also be conducted so environmental assessments can be a seamless part of the whole of government approach to minerals and petroleum development approvals.”

SACOME is also calling on all parties to actively support the Coalition’s Exploration Development Incentive (EDI), which would enable investors to deduct mineral exploration expenses against their own taxable incomes and is slated to be implemented on July 1 2014.

“Now that we have a Federal Government working proactively to address critical federal policies that have long held back the industry, it is of upmost importance that we have a State Government prepared to legislate to guarantee South Australia remains a top investment destination,” Mr Kuchel said.

To view the full list of policy priorities, visit www.sacome.org.au

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