SA Minister defends mining prediction

Mineral resources minister Tom Koutsantonis has conceded the South Australian government may have exaggerated the benefits of a planned minerals processing plant for Whyalla.

Mineral resources minister Tom Koutsantonis has conceded the South Australian government may have exaggerated the benefits of a planned minerals processing plant for Whyalla.

Arafura Resources has called off a plan to build the plant and will do processing close to its Northern Territory mine site instead.

Koutsantonis was speaking at a uranium industry conference in Adelaide and said the Government had depended on Arafura’s public statements.

“I support what the Premier said about Arafura but you’ve got to remember that if you read the releases that Arafura put out they mirror exactly what the Government was saying,” he said.

“Arafura are the ones who were talking about the investment and the Government was simply taking what they were saying for granted.

“I mean they were an ASX-listed company, what they said was made publicly available, we relied on them and they changed their minds,” he said.

Koutsantonis was unrepentant for strongly supporting mining projects.

“I haven’t changed anything about the way I’ve behaved. I’ve always been a very positive supporter of the mining industry, that’s my job,” he said.   

“My job’s to go out and make sure that the mining industry has an ally and a voice in the State Cabinet. I agree with the Premier, it’s our job to be fierce advocates for South Australia.”

Koutsantonis’ comments come as South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill last week admitted the Government needs to be more careful about endorsing mining opportunities in the state.

 Weatherill said he concurred with the Opposition the Government had a reputation of overselling mining projects but falling short in delivery.

“I think this was a bit over-spruiked. It was always a speculative project but at the time it was always on that was a realistic project,” he said.

Weatherill added with both the abandoned BHP Billiton Olympic Dam mine expansion and this Arafura’s project, the Government just supported what the companies had told it.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.