NSW invests heavily in critical minerals future

21st June 2022 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The New South Wales government has announced a A$130-million Critical Minerals Activation Fund as part of its 2022/23 Budget, to attract mining and processing investment to New South Wales.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales Paul Toole said the fund would help deliver key local projects and secure the state’s supply of valuable critical minerals and hi-tech metals for a rapidly expanding global market.

“Our state’s abundance of resource deposits positions New South Wales to be a leader in critical minerals investment, supporting extraction and local processing. These critical minerals are essential for the manufacture of batteries, electric vehicles and other renewable technologies, paving the way to create thousands of regional jobs,” Toole said.

“The critical minerals and high-tech metals sector represents the future of mining, with significant flow-on benefits for other industries and regional communities. This new funding sends a strong message to surveyors, miners and processors that New South Wales is open for business.

“Last year I announced the Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metal Strategy in Dubbo, with the intention of making New South Wales the number one investment destination for critical minerals mining and advanced manufacturing. This A$130-million Critical Minerals Activation Fund is a crucial step towards making our vision a reality.”

Toole said the Critical Minerals Activation Fund would also deliver essential infrastructure to help companies set up and operate in New South Wales.

“By establishing essential infrastructure, such as roads and improving connectivity, the Fund will not only attract investment but help drive local job creation and boost regional economies,” he said.

“The Fund will also focus on development pathways to upskill and train future workers who will be needed to work at critical minerals mines and in processing.”

Eligible applicants will be required to apply through a competitive process and provide a funding co-contribution.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies has welcomed the investment, with CEO Warren Pearce noting that mining remained a pillar of the state’s economy and was more vital now as the state rebuilt from the recent challenges and looked to the future.

“Amec welcomes the ongoing commitment of the New South Wales government to make the state the number one destination for safe and sustainable mining, with clear key performance indicators detailed in the Budget,” said Pearce.

“The significant investment of A$130-million over five years to implement the New South Wales Critical and High-Tech Metals Strategy demonstrates commitment to the future industry and will further encourage investment in New South Wales’ growing critical minerals projects.”  

Mining royalties are forecast to be A$810.1-million, or 51.9%, higher over the four years to 2025/26, relative to expectations in the last half-yearly Budget.

“Mining royalties support important spending on schools, roads, hospitals, and recovery. This increased revenue is more than double the immediate clean-up assistance following the recent floods, or four times the additional support for Covid following the Omicron outbreak,” said Pearce.

He noted that the significant mining levies paid by industry would be used to directly regulate mine and petroleum site safety, with some A$23.9-million, or A$98.7-million over four years, and to undertake regulatory compliance inspections, with $6.9-million, or A$28.5-million, set aside over four years.

The Budget also invests in geoscience with A$10-million or A$28.5-million over four years, supports tenure processing with some A$18.5-million or A$54.7-million over four years and assists with remediation of high-risk legacy mine sites with some A$24.5-million or $76.3-million over four years.

“Mining pays its own way in New South Wales. The significant fees, levies and charges paid by industry to government support not just tenure processing but also regulation, remediation of old legacy sites and investment in geoscience,” said Pearce.

“New South Wales' government is leading by example in applying environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations to the balance sheet with a review underway to help ensure the government can remain at the forefront of ESG investing.”

The Budget also invests in the delivery of an Energy Infrastructure Roadmap, spending A$84-million over 10 years, supports the emerging renewable manufacturing industry, with A$250-million over five years, and establishes a new Biodiversity Credit Supply Fund, with A$106.7-million.

“The New South Wales Budget delivered today includes a commitment to the future of the minerals industry which will encourage private investment, as well as provide jobs and opportunities for a better state,” said Pearce.