The relaxation of legislation for non-military access in South Australia could result in $1 trillion worth of mineral wealth, according to the state’s peak mining body.
Yesterday the Federal Government approved a new plan for management and use of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).
The chief executive of the South Australia Chamber of Mines and Energy, Jason Kuchel, said the area presented a great opportunity that could be unlocked under the new plan.
“The WPA, an area the size of England, and with an estimated trillion dollars worth of minerals, now has the potential to be unlocked for the benefit of South Australians, through investment, employment and royalties,” he said.
Kuchel said certain zones in the area would be “time shared” for mining and defence activities.
Major mines already operating in the area include the Challenger gold mine that was recently acquired by Kingsgate Consolidated and OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill copper and gold project.
WPG Resources also has it’s Peculiar Knob project in the region.
Changes to the regulation has been welcomed by Chamber of Mines and Energy, but it says time will tell how successful they will be.
“Companies will not be able to make their own assessments about whether a deposit commercially justifies meeting the Department of Defence’s requirements, rather than having that decision made for them,” Kuchel said.
“There is, however, still much to be delivered in terms of the exact detail of the exclusions and permitting and how the proposed new rules can work in practice.”
According to Kuchel, the WPA has over $35 billion worth of known deposits and the total mineral wealth has been estimated to be more that $1 trillion but he says foreign involvement in projects in the WPA was "not a totally resolved issue”.
Tasman Resources currently mines in the and Mr Kuchel told the Herald Sun the company is getting strong drilling results from its projects north of BHP Billiton Ltd’s Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine.
"It’s looking like another Olympic Dam-style mine,” he said.
"Certainly the magnetic anomalies and so forth would indicate that the potential is huge.”
Kuchel said unlocking the region will provide certainty for potential investors.
"There should be no impediment for mining and defence to work together,” he said.