SA’s new copper plan pushes ahead

South Australia’s government will seek input from stakeholders about their new copper strategy, following the launch of a consultation directions paper last week.

Copper production in South Australia will increase to one million tonnes per annum under the state government’s proposed copper strategy.

Speaking before members of the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) last Friday, state treasurer and resources minister Tom Koutsantonis announced the next phase of consultation was underway.

“There is widespread agreement that South Australia’s geology and geography does put us in the box seat to supply copper to the world’s fast growing economies,” Koutsantonis said.

The Directions Paper on the Copper Strategy seeks the views of industry, regional and Aboriginal communities, and other stakeholders on how we tackle some of the issues that could prevent South Australia from reaching its full potential as a copper producer.

“In the weeks ahead, we will be looking to the community, landowners, producers, explorers, researchers, innovators and suppliers to provide their guidance on the final design of this long-term strategy.”

With current cooper production around 300,000 tonnes per annum, the SA government wants to triple production by 2030 to become a major contributor to Australia positioning itself as the third largest copper producer in the world.

At present South Australia has three active copper mines; Olympic Dam (BHP), Prominent Hill (OZ Minerals) and Kanmantoo (Hillgrove Resources).

Koutsantonis said the Copper Strategy consultation would address a range of issues for development of the sector, from exploration to export.

“To succeed, the Strategy also needs the community’s support for the required investment in jobs, training, research and other opportunities that can be created by South Australia taking a larger and more influential role in the world copper market,” he said.

SACOME CEO Jason Kuchel welcomed the state government’s continuing focus on the mining industry.

“Collaboration between industry and the SA Government will help return the prominence that copper once enjoyed in SA, where it was the backbone of our economy,” Kuchel said.

“The copper strategy rightly acknowledges that this State has massive potential for new copper discoveries, together with the further development potential of our known resources.

“Realising South Australia’s copper potential will reap big rewards for the entire State in terms of investment attraction and economic activity, and ultimately jobs, royalties, service sector opportunities and development of regional infrastructure and services.”

OZ Minerals CEO and Managing Director Andrew Cole, a strong supporter of the copper strategy since it was announced earlier this year, remarked on the disproportionate production of copper against state reserves.

“South Australia holds 68 per cent of Australia’s known copper reserves, however we only produce 30 per cent of the nation’s copper output,” Cole said.

“The State Government’s plan to triple the size of the copper industry and make South Australia a copper mining powerhouse should be congratulated.

“The growth of the copper industry will generate huge economic benefits for South Australia and benefit local businesses, service providers, skilled workers as well as the wider community.”

As the owner of  Prominent Hill and copper-gold project Carrapateena, OZ Minerals has a high stake stake in policies affecting copper production.

“Prominent Hill employs more than one thousand people in highly skilled and well-paid jobs,” Cole said.

“We want to do the same thing at Carrapateena and, if the Government gets the settings right, there is no reason that the industry can’t expand.”

“I’d strongly encourage stakeholders to respond to the directions paper, as it provides an exciting opportunity to make a genuine contribution towards shaping the future of the industry.”

Submissions to the Copper Strategy are due by October 23.

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