SA Mines and Energy Journal : Dec09-Jan10
DECEMBER 2009/JANUARY 2010 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL 16 FEATURE "The State Government regards defence and mining as fundamental to South Australia's economic future and it is essential in areas such as the WPA that both can co-exist now and in the future, " he says. However, he agrees greater clarification is needed on which areas of the WPA can be explored and mined, and which are no-go zones. "We want an announced policy in place rather than a series of mining approvals and non-approvals to determine mining development in this state, " he says. Concern is growing among explorers who fear the Defence Department just wishes they would go away and take the access problem with them. However, Paul Heithersay, Deputy Chief Executive of PIRSA, says he does not believe this is the case. "Defence has been engaged in constructive dialogue over the past few months and the parties are now well advanced on a framework to provide clarity and co-existence in the future, " he says. Mr Kuchel says: "PIRSA is obligated to provide mining companies every opportunity to prove their ability to mine within whatever strict environmental requirements are set. "Mining companies want the same consideration from the Department of Defence, but some feel defence is likely to jump to an early conclusion and give an early negative response. " SACOME President John Roberts sees no reason why the Defence Department and mining cannot co-exist. "After all, the conservation and mining interests have been able to manage it: just look at Iluka Resources' mineral sands mining near Ceduna. "It seems to me that two parties with fairly opposing aims and views have been able to work it out. The Defence Department and mining companies should be able to do the same. After all, there's a hell of a lot of land out there. " Mr Roberts says the dilemma needs to be clearly resolved by the state and federal governments. "Ultimately, the SA Government needs to sort this out because it's in the state's interests. Our economy relies heavily on our ability to explore, discover and develop mine projects and this issue will only get worse without a clearly defined way forward for managed co-existence. " Uncertainty is the natural enemy of the prudent investor and Mr Roberts says it is difficult for miners to attract investors to a project when a veil of uncertainty clouds the issue of access. "Mining costs millions of dollars and the industry will increasingly struggle to attract investors while such a degree of uncertainty clouds the issue, " he says. "I think the solution must be a variation of the model where mining companies do accept some conditions must apply for the right to use the land. But there has to be give and take on both sides. " Dr Heithersay says companies need to come up with innovative and flexible approaches to meet defence requirements. Steps have been taken recently to improve education and communication on both sides of the fence. Senior Department of Defence officials have given SA Premier Mike There has to be give and take on both sides The Challenger mine.