Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan on Friday welcomed a report by the federal government’s Resources 2030 Taskforce, which he convened in March to ensure that the Australian resource sector remains globally competitive and sustainable
The Minister will use the work of the taskforce to craft a National Resources Statement – the first national statement on resources in 20 years.
Some of the recommendations outlined by the taskforce include: the development of an approach to showcase Australia's attractiveness as an investment destination; regular benchmarking of domestic and international policies to identify areas for improvement, developing strategies to enhance and grow competitive downstream industries, including value-adding for prospective battery and critical-minerals industries; and investigating tax incentives to encourage individuals to live and work in mining areas, among others.
Chaired by former Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps the taskforce comprised a panel of representatives from business, academia, government and the community.
Canavan said the report highlighted the mining sector’s importance to the national economy and its contribution to Australia’s high living standards, adding, “the mining sector is more important to the livelihoods of Australians than it has ever been”.
He noted that the resources sector accounts for more than half Australia’s exports, and that employment in the sector is more than double what it was before the mining boom and, “most importantly, the share of indigenous employment in resources is higher than in any other industry”.
Further, future opportunities for Australian resource jobs “remain bright”, as Canavan pointed to the significant growth projected for coal, iron-ore and gas, as well as “surging” demand for minerals such as lithium, rare earths, nickel and cobalt.
“The mining boom is not over. However, the taskforce's report shows that future opportunities will not fall into our lap. We cannot let complacency turn into missed opportunity. I welcome the report's recommendations to re-invest in Australia's reputation as a stable investment destination.”
Canavan called for establishment of a “brand Australia” to promote the resources sector and attract the investment. “To achieve that we must consider carefully the taskforce's recommendations to grow our resource base, reduce unnecessary approval delays, reinvest in skills and communities and improve environmental performance.”
Welcoming the findings of the taskforce, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) CEO Tania Constable noted that the confirmation by Cripps that “unnecessary duplication is one of the most significant inhibitors of the sector’s progress” reinforced the MCA’s long-standing advocacy to reduce the red tape hindering mineral development, investment and jobs.
She added that the report made suggestions that would ensure the minerals industry continues to lead the world in innovation and the adoption of new technology.
“Securing and sustaining the future minerals workforce with the skills to make the most of new technology is another area which requires urgent attention,” Constable commented adding that the MCA had been leading the discussion on workforce and skills issues since 2016 and are developing a framework to advance a considered and consistent approach to securing the future minerals workforce.
“The taskforce’s recommendations provide a good foundation for policy development in many areas which must now be transformed into rapid and decisive action by the government,” she stated.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CE Ian Macfarlane, in agreeing with Constable on key areas such as investment, communities, environmental performance and workforce and skills, added that, “the QRC hopes this taskforce report will be a catalyst for other states to lift their bans and go-slow developments of gas projects.”
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce noted that the organisation strongly supported the recommendations, but stressed that implementation of and bipartisan support, for the report is key.
He added that, “Australia needs greater greenfields mineral exploration to discover future mines. The taskforce has acknowledged the need to increase mineral exploration, as the discovery rate has been in slow decline for the last decade.”
Further, he noted that, “the taskforce has also identified that Australian governments have a leadership role to support the growth of the Australian battery minerals industry. There is a tight timeframe on the global battery opportunity and the government must act quickly to show leadership.”
Pearce concluded that the taskforce’s recommendations are sensible and if implemented would benefit all Australians.