Australia voted world’s best mining region

Australia has stormed to the top of the world’s mining rankings, taking out a number of top spots in this year’s Fraser Institute mining survey.

“The region as a whole surpassed Canada and the US this year to become the most attractive region in the world for investment when both policy and mineral potential are considered,” the Fraser Institute said in its annual survey on mining regions’ investment and mineral potential attractiveness.

Western Australia has been voted as the world’s most attractive mining investment region in the annual Fraser Institute survey.

The survey, which ranks 109 mining regions around the world (down from 122 last year), ranked WA as the most attractive in the world, as it moved up to top spot from fourth position last year.

It also scored top spot for best practices mineral potential, and the region that most encouraged investment.

This is a turnaround for the state, and Australia’s rankings in general after the nation ranked poorly in the 2014 survey, and also recorded the first declined in its Policy Perception Index score for the first time in five years.

The Northern Territory shot up the rankings, taking out seventh place.

South Australia also managed to slip into the top ten, leaping ahead a number of spots from 16th last year.

Queensland ranked at 16th globally, an improvement from its 22nd position last year.

Tasmania pulled ahead of New South Wales to rank at 30th compared NSW’s 38th position, where as they ranked 46th and 55th respectively in the previous survey.

Victoria again ranked the worst out of any Australian region, coming in at 62nd and only slight ahead of Bulgaria, although it is a slight upwards movement from its 69th position last year.

According to the Fraser Institute, despite the downturn “Australia continues to be an attractive place to invest in mining”.

“The region as a whole surpassed Canada and the US this year to become the most attractive region in the world for investment when both policy and mineral potential are considered,” the Fraser Institute said.

However New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria did decline in their scores due to poor labour regulation, increased uncertainty over land claims, and trade barriers.

Company manager and directors interview for the survey were generally positive, with one explorer’s director stating “competition for ground is transparent and corruption is rare”, while the director of another development stated that “mines have been built from discovery to production faster than anywhere”.

However it wasn’t entirely positive, with one exploration company’s manger stating that the “blurring or responsibilities between state and federal law has been an issue”.

“[The] Native Title act is federal law and the Mining Act is state law; Native Title can override mineral rights, for example, a company was unable to explore ground over which they had tenure because they were threatened with trespass by the agents acting for the traditional owners.

“The land is effectively locked up unless the company agrees to demands for compensation which are non-negotiable.”

On the other hand the responses regarding work in South Australia was wholly positive, with one exploration company president stating that “Government departments involved in the resources area have a ‘can do’ attitude to assisting companies wanting to invest”.

Another manager at an explorer added: “[South Australia has the] best mineral potential in Australia with a government that wants to be a world producer in copper and encourages exploration more than any state in Australia.”

Operators surveyed from NSW were completely negative, especially in terms of dealing with the state government, lambasting the perceived poor working relationship with the relevant departments.

A former director of an exploration company stated that the “NSW government took away the exploration licence from a company based purely on politics.”

“This decision has cost innocent investors around $300 million – such sovereign risk cannot be put up with in an area of endeavour (i.e. exploration) that is already inherently risky>

This position was echoed by another exploration company president, who said, “Recently, the NSW government cancelled some leases because they were issued in error. This affected investors that were in no way responsible for the issue of wrong licences, people that had invested in good faith.”

“The government made no attempt whatsoever to protect private investors, thus destroying any trust one may have in the fairness of this government.”

A senior manager at one operating mine decried “the goalposts being moved with changes to mining policy midway through the process”.

“This has led to the blowout in approval times from an average of three months to well over three years in a number of cases.”

A Tasmanian explorer was relatively positive on the state saying it “has good communication between government and industry”.

New Zealand ranked 30th in the global ratings, while Argentina’s La Rioja region ranked last.

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