Third-pace for Australia in risk survey

Australia was named the third-best country in which to make investments in RESOURCESTOCKS’ 2009 World Risk Survey, climbing up one position from last year’s results.

Australia, with 12 points, placed behind the United States, with 10.6 points and Chile, with 11.4 points.

The results included a number of upsets to the order of the top ten countries as companies began to value low financial and sovereign risk higher than they did in previous years.

“There is little doubt that the economic downturn has had a big effect on the survey results in 2009 while political uncertainty has again handicapped many countries,” RESOURCESTOCKS editor Ron Berryman said.

The survey ranks the seven Australian states and territories and the 12 Canadian provinces alongside 70 other nations.

Financial risk, sovereign risk, land access, green tape, land claims, social risk, infrastructure, civil unrest, natural disasters and labour relations were all taken into account when compiling the information.

Alberta, the US and Quebec occupied the top three rankings in the overall rankings, with New South Wales and South Australia the best placed Australian states in fourth and fifth respectively.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) manager advocacy and public affairs Darren Brown said South Australia’s result combined with last year’s second place finish, proved it was performing consistently.

“We encourage the other states of Australia to implement the strategies South Australia has been using for the last five to six years in order to improve their resource industries,” he said.

Despite the strong performance by Australia on a whole, Western Australia, the nation’s resources hub, was one of the least desirable states, coming in at 14th.

It finished behind Chile, Yukon and Botswana, while Victoria, at 16th, was the only Australian State ranked lower.

According to the survey, WA’s inefficient exploration and mining approvals processes were again to blame for the poor ranking.

The study also found that the new WA Government had done little to assist in streamlining the processes, despite releasing a report in August with planned changes.

The report released offered 15 key recommendations, including the establishment of a natural resources agency, an independent approvals reform office as well as reforms to native title and Indigenous heritage processes.

According to the AMEC chief executive Simon Bennison, the report failed to outline a plan to implement the required changes.

“The industry has co-operated with the minister’s expert working group since November last year, hoping for a decisive plan to streamline the cumbersome approvals process,” he said.

“It is very disappointing that the WA government would table a document which details so many examples of expensive red tape without a comprehensive plan to implement the required changes.”

The WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith urged the reforms to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

“Approvals reform is a priority for the resources industry and we believe that a more streamlined system is possible without compromising standards of environmental protection,” he said.

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