The resources sector in Western Australia is changing gears, according to Mines and Petroleum minister Bill Marmion.
In an address at the WA Annual Resources Overview Marmion told guests that the days of high capital investment in new and expanding projects was giving way to a future of higher levels of production and export.
Marmion said that although the price of iron was low, it was important to remember that the state was going through a period of transition.
“We can see this happening when we look at the soaring value of Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry,” Marmion said.
“The State reached a new milestone of $121.6 billion dollars last financial year, 20 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year.
“And there is continuing capital investment in the State’s resources sector. Just last month it was estimated that about $160 billion dollars’ worth of resource projects were under construction or at the committed stage.”
The minister said it was no surprise the exploration sector was down given the current swing of the commodities cycle and the global trend for companies cutting back on exploration programs.
“It’s why the State Government introduced the co-funded drilling program in 2009 to encourage new innovative exploration in greenfields areas,” he said.
The $80 million Exploration Incentive Scheme allows explorers to seek funding for up to 50 per cent of drilling costs, a program which will run until 2017 at a total expenditure of $130 million.
The scheme had already offered $50 million to 466 projects, helping discoveries such as East Tropicana gold, Handpump gold, Oxley Potash, Nova Nickel and Yeneena copper.
The minister also highlighted the success of a speedy approvals system in the state, with 97 per cent of Programme of Work applications and 92 per cent of mining proposals finalised within 30 business days.
“Some good thinking and hard work mean that we now have a seamless system that operates predominantly online and is genuinely open and transparent,” he said.
“I’m pleased to be able to tell you that mineral title applications are now at their lowest level for nearly 20 years.
“DMP publishes its approvals performance online each quarter so anyone can see how they’re travelling and I can tell you that they’re travelling well.”
Image: West Australian