Northern Territory to streamline mining projects

The Northern Territory's new government has promised to fast track mining in the region.

Newly appointed Territory mining minister Willem Westra vna Holthe yesterday declared the region 'open for business', the ABC reports.

He stated that the Government is fully supportive of the development of new mines.

The Northern Territory was recently highlighted as the nation's new hotspot for mining.

In the global Fraser Institute, which measures the attractiveness and ease of mining, the Northern Territory ranked above Western Australia for the best region in which to mine and invest, and ranked just outside the global top ten.

The key in the Territory's massive score hike is the Government's approach to mining and resources rather than actual mineral prospectiveness.

The Northern Territory's previous minister for resources, Kon Vatskalis, said these results haven't come as a surprise for the region.

"The ranking is the result of years of hard work and investment by the Department of Resources and the Northern Territory Government to promote exploration and mining activity in the NT," he said.

He stated that these results have highlighted the region's "proactive approach to mineral and energy development, positive regulatory regime, and the efforts that have been made to raise the Territory's profile as a resource exploration destination and to attract international development to the Northern Territory".

The Territory's $25.8 million Bringing Forward Discovery initiative was touted by Vatskalis as a prime example.

"This program of new geoscience and collaborative funding for exploration is now reaping its own rewards, and coupled with our International Investment Attraction Strategy is showing real dividends, and letting the world know that the Northern Territory is open for business.

"In fact over $228 million was spent on exploration during 2011 which is a record for the NT and a reflection of how successful our initiatives such as Bringing Forward Discovery have been," he said.

Resources also play a much greater role in the Northern Territory's economy than other mining powerhouses.

"Mining (also) contributes to a quarter of the Territory's economy," Vatskalis said, "which is almost four times the national average."

Vatskalis exclaimed: "the survey suggests that the mining and exploration industry's perceptions of the Territory's attractiveness as an exploration investment destination have increased over the past year, both in a global context and also relative to other Australian jurisdictions.

The new government is taking the same tack in regards to its support of the industry.

Westra van Holthe pointed to shale oil and gas as two major growth areas, as Darwin becomes a new LNG hub.

The minister also promised to streamline the approvals process, stating that it had been too slow in the past.

The Northern Territory is currently the nation's seabed mining capital.

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