SA Mines and Energy Journal : April-May 2010
19 APRIL/MAY 2010 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL GOVERNMENT the expressions-of-interest process for the Port Bonython deep-water port. Just before the SA election, Minister for Mineral Resources Development Paul Holloway wrote to SACOME explaining the party's position on a deep-sea port, indicating it did not have a closed mind but was not willing to put at risk taxpayers' money to support an uneconomic port or stymie competition to favour one proposal over another. The Government said the Flinders Port consortium needed to secure enough guaranteed throughput to warrant the investment in Port Bonython and was working with potential customers to put together an arrangement. The Labor Party's Mining in SA Policy 2010 refers to the formation of the Resources and Energy Sector Infrastructure Council, support for OneSteel's investigation of an expansion of its Whyalla port facilities, and a number of reports on future infrastructure energy requirements in partnership with industry. Labor says it is committed to facilitating market-driven approaches to common-user infrastructure development. While the State Government granted permission for Centrex to export from Port Lincoln temporarily, and is considering enhancing the OneSteel facility, SACOME maintains these are only part or temporary solutions. The OneSteel proposal is for Panamax-sized vessels. The reports on infrastructure and energy now need to be converted into solutions. SACOME is pleased the Government plans to extend its Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) scheme, allocating $10.2 million to help drive further resources exploration and mining developments. The scheme, which reduces red tape, has seen exploration expenditure increase tenfold since its introduction, peaking at $355 million in 2008. The Rann Government has committed to a target of six months for a mine lease approval, a measure welcomed by SACOME. "The Government understands the importance of supporting mineral explorations and processing mining applications efficiently, " said Mr Kuchel. The Labor Party has committed $3.5 million over four years to continue the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA), the mining industry's key training body established in 2006. RESA works closely with industry, government and training providers to generate more education, training and employment opportunities in the industry. During the election campaign, the party also committed to improving participation in the workforce by groups that are traditionally under-represented. This is consistent with goals of the resources industry, which typically works in regional and indigenous areas. Mr Kuchel said SACOME was pleased the Government was taking seriously possible skills shortages in the mining industry. "Now is the time to be developing the skills to avoid an increasing shortage in a few years' time, " he said. "We'd like to see real improvement in the attraction and retention of skilled workers from a range of sources, and higher-quality education, especially in the maths and science areas. " The Labor Party has said resource development should create increased prosperity and opportunities for SA's regional indigenous communities. "We will continue to work with the mining industry to create pathways for indigenous South Australians into employment in mining and related industries, " its Mining in SA Policy 2010 says. The document also outlines a new grant program of $1 million a year for communities in the Upper Spencer Gulf to help drive jobs growth and meet the needs of the growing mining community. "We envisage the Upper Spencer Gulf as being a centre of activity of the mining industry -- supplying people as well as services to new and existing mines, " it says. "We will ensure that this region has the infrastructure and support needed to capture the benefits of growth in mining. " The Government also says it will take the first step towards establishing a heavy engineering and manufacturing hub in the Upper Spencer Gulf to support SA's growing mining sector. SACOME agrees that development in these areas is crucial to the future prosperity of the state.