SA state budget released: major focus on resource sector

The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) has welcomed the South Australian state budget’s major priority on the resources sector.

Treasurer and mines minister Tom Koutsantonis reiterated the importance of the resources sector in SA as the 2014/15 figures showed the minerals and petroleum sector contributed $6.38 billion to the state.

SACOME chief executive Jason Kuchel said, “It is important to remember the value of our resources sector and what it does for not only our cities, but the regional hubs of our state. Regional towns near mining operations rely on those projects to stimulate life into their economies.”

SACOME welcomed the government’s decision to pay the co-produced levy on water to the state’s Arid Lands Board without seeking remuneration of the contribution from the resources sector.

“Our position is that this levy should be abolished all together, as it is water that would not ordinarily be used by other industries or private users, and no other jurisdiction globally charges for co-produced water,” Kuchel said.

Before the budget announcement, $50 million had also been promised to Whyalla Steelworks over two years for technologies or upgrades.

“These steps are critical for the regional economy and employment in the town. Thousands of people will, and already are, affected by this, so it is good to see the state government being proactive,” Kuchel added.

The budget allocated $3.6 million to collaborate with the community and develop an informed response to the Final Report of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

A further $500,000 was given for a detailed assessment of the increased electricity connections between South Australia and the National Electricity Market (NEM) which Kuchel said was “critical to ensuring security and reliability of supply to businesses in SA”.

SACOME was also provided $400,000 over two years for the employment of an industry connections manager – to enable a closer relationship between industry and service providers; sponsorship of the South Australian Mines Emergency Response Competition; a safety summit to be conducted in 2016/17; and for the ongoing creation of an annual innovation summit to take place on September 23, 2016.

Other initiatives provided by the state budget include extending the tax rebate on small business payroll for four more years; the implementation of a Magnetite Strategy which aims to identify initiatives to increase the economic benefits of SA’s magnetite deposits; and amendments to be considered for the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act.

In other states, the NSW budget saw a drop in coal royalties’ contribution, due to weak coal prices and slow growth in exports; this came after the QLD budget committed not to increase royalties yet neglected supporting initiatives for exploration.

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