More skills and exploration needed - Minister

5th April 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has acknowledged the need for continued investment in exploration and the need for more staff within the resources sector.

Speaking at the Powering the Future conference, in Perth, King noted that the resource sector currently employed around 280 000 Australians and was the largest employer of First Nations people.

“Here in Western Australia it is the second largest employer after the public sector. And with great respect to our wonderful public sector, I would like one day to see more resources workers than public servants.

“But we need more workers to operate existing mines as well as to build the pipeline of planned resources projects. We heard from industry at the Jobs and Skills Summit that access to skilled labour is a major handbrake on growth.

“I used this forum to remind resource companies that one way companies could address skills shortages was to attract more women to the sector. Something that would only happen if companies could demonstrate they were providing safe and inclusive workplaces and living environments,” King said.

She noted that it was encouraging to see the progress already made in the area.

“Fly-in, fly-out set-ups are an essential part of resources extraction in the very remote places that these natural resources are found. It is a challenging lifestyle of long swings away from family and friends but adding the possibility of harassment and sexual assault makes it understandably repellent,” she added.

King said that the emerging critical minerals sector was also calling for a highly skilled workforce to support a pipeline of planned critical minerals projects vital to the new energy economy.

“Growing the sector may require a larger and wider talent pool of workers.

“When I addressed Parliament last week to make my first Resources Statement, one of my central themes was of the urgent need for the sector to get better at telling its story to younger Australians,” she said.

“Our ongoing prosperity depends on the resources sector. Reaching net zero by 2050 will need the expertise of the resources sector. The world needs our young people to consider careers in geoscience, geophysics, chemistry, metallurgy and engineering if we are to decarbonise and stop dangerous climate change.

“We need to help young people understand that a career in the resources sector is making a positive difference in the fight against climate change,” the Minister added.

King noted that Australia’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 would also require more mining activity to take place, meaning the search for viable resources would need to continue.

“We need to build a workforce with future-facing skills, fully engage our world-leading scientists and METS sector and invest in value-adding capabilities,” she said.

“Australia is a world leader in mineral exploration with expenditure at an all-time high.

Australia’s share of mineral exploration expenditure rose from 12% in 2014 to 20% in 2022.

“A growing pipeline of new resource projects and acceleration of resource development means that Australia can seize the opportunities presented by the global net zero transition. It means a boost to regional development and a helping hand to our international partners.

“The government’s domestic support initiatives target the earliest stages of exploration where there is greater investment uncertainty, and greater financial risk for industry. This includes our A$225-million Exploring for the Future programme led by Geoscience Australia.

“The programme provides world-leading data on Australia’s mineral, energy and groundwater potential in unexplored and underexplored areas of the country.

“As the Minister responsible for Geoscience Australia, I can’t emphasise enough how important geoscience data is for Australia. Understanding what is on and underneath the land will empower regional communities, governments and industry to make informed decisions on how we harness our natural resources and manage our environment,” King said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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