The South Australian Government has begun searching for new sources of groundwater to enable key infrastructure and industries in remote locations, including the critical resources sector.
Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan acknowledged the need to pay back the mining industry for its contribution to the state.
“The Marshall Government is investigating options to address constraints to economic growth in outback SA, including restricted water supplies and the high cost of developing support infrastructure, by identifying potential corridors that could be used for a range of new infrastructure by multiple users,” he said.
“South Australia’s energy and mining sector already produced about 8 per cent of the State’s annual Gross State Product (GSP) in 2018 and around 44 per cent of the State’s international goods exports, valued about $5.3 billion.
“Energy and mining employs more than 41,000 South Australians and plays a pivotal role in the economic development of regional South Australia, including through its support for Aboriginal businesses and employment.”
Economic growth in the state’s outback is currently constrained by a number of factors including minimal water supplies and high infrastructure costs.
The Minister said overcoming these obstacles was a major priority.
“If we can deliver increased supplies of water at a lower cost, without adversely impacting on the environment, regional and remote South Australians will enjoy access to more jobs and business opportunities,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
The first stage to enabling the outback industries is identifying potential water sources up north, which is part of the state Government’s Water and Infrastructure Corridors Initiative.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the Government was committed to finding those sources.
“This is key to ensuring that communities are able to adapt to a drying climate and support future investment and economic growth in our regions,” Speirs said.
“The work will involve drilling two bores to conduct pump tests, as well as two observation bores to assist with the groundwater assessments.
“Airborne geophysics data across the Braemar region is also being processed by the CSIRO to identify palaeo-valleys most suitable for groundwater investigations in this area.”