With expenditure on mining exploration in South Australia reaching a new record high, and with several major projects poised to commence, moves are underway to promote regions in the State as an ideal location for investment, and a great place to live. Jamie Wade writes
ABS figures for the June quarter show that in 2006-07 exploration expenditure had reached $260.7 million and that South Australia’s performance is now ahead of every other State or Territory except the mining giant, Western Australia.
Expenditure in South Australia has outstripped the performance even of Queensland.
South Australia’s annual figure was a whopping 15.2% of the national total.
The State is punching well above its weight, and year on year, the comparison is even more impressive.
In the year up to June 2006 exploration expenditure stood at $146.5 million and just twelve months later it has escalated to more than $260 million.
The latest quarterly figures suggest South Australia has not yet hit its speed limit.
For the June quarter, South Australia hit another all-time quarterly high of $84.1 million, which was a more than 20% rise on the previous quarter.
South Australia accounted for more than half of national spending on copper exploration and 60% of the nation’s uranium exploration.
In addition explorers in South Australia significantly increased expenditure in the search for iron ore, mineral sands and gold.
Southern Flinders Ranges Development Board Inc (SFRDB) executive manager Mark Malcolm said the unprecedented level of growth created exciting opportunities for the State, but not without its share of challenges.
“The challenges come in the form of servicing mines and exploration in remote areas, that is: attracting and retaining a skilled workforce,” Malcolm told Australian Mining.
“It’s also important for the State to ensure infrastructure keeps pace with the growth in mining activity. However, the key challenge for region and regional communities like is to maximise local participation in mining.”
Tasked with contributing to an improving the quality of life in the Southern Flinders community through wealth creation and employment growth, the SFRDB is keen to promote the Port Pirie region 225 km north of Adelaide on the Spencer Gulf from Wilmington in the north to Yacka southwards.
“We think we make an excellent case for people to base themselves in Port Pirie or other locations around here, to service the growth in mining activity,” Malcolm said.
“Many of these mining operations will be remote: drive in/drive out, or fly in/fly out, so people will be looking for good locations that have all of the amenity and lifestyle and services for families.
“A key goal of our community is to offer an excellent living environment for people that will need a base to commute in and out of these remote sites in the future.”
As part of a two pronged-approach the SFRDB is also targeting investment, particularly in the sector that services the resources industry.
“We see ourselves as an ideal location because of the quality of the lifestyle here. It’s still possible to buy comfortable houses for a working family under $200,000 in Port Pirie; it’s a struggle to do that in other mining communities,” Malcolm said.