Tasmania’s mining industry contributes an astounding 50 per cent, or $1.95 billion in value of the state’s exports, making it one of Tasmania’s most important economic producers.
As a key pillar of the Tasmanian economy, the Hodgman Liberal government is strongly supporting this important industry, which directly employs around 2000 Tasmanians and thousands more indirectly throughout regional areas around the state.
The majority of Tasmania’s mines can be found on the West Coast, where regional communities rely on the employment and business the mining sector provides.
The jobs and economic input that mining provides to regional Tasmania is why the Liberal government has set an ambitious target of achieving a 50 per cent increase in new mining ventures over five years compared to the previous five year period.
This would create hundreds of new jobs mining, as well as many more indirect jobs for Tasmanians living in regional areas by stimulating regional economies and providing a flow on effect for local businesses.
Although some are keen to constantly talk down the prospects of mining in Tasmania, the fact is that there is a great deal of confidence in the sector.
We have seen a jump in mining royalties due to increased mining activity from around $15 million over 2015-16 to over $39 million during 2016-17.
The Hodgman government is already supporting the growth of the mining industry through our Minerals Exploration Investment Attraction Plan and Geoscience initiatives. These initiatives promote mining and exploration in Tasmania on a national and international stage.
Our $1 million Mining Sector Innovation Program funded in the most recent state budget will help develop an increasingly high-tech industry at the cutting edge of innovation and best practice, which is important for the environment and for safety.
The program will support innovation-focussed projects in partnership with the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council and the University of Tasmania’s Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits.
We are investing to bring forward the potential re-start of the iconic Mount Lyell mine through our $9.5m investment. This will create more than 50 jobs in the short-term, with the possibility of expanding to a workforce of around 300 if the mine re-opens.
Importantly, our actions are already seeing a positive return with the recent sale of Avebury nickel mine, granting of a mining lease to Stellar Resources, and the re-opening of the Henty gold mine.
While there are very real prospects for mining in Tasmania, there are also very real threats – namely the push by the Greens to put huge sections of the state’s mineral-rich North-West completely off limits to mining.
The push to lock away another 680,000 hectares of North-West Tasmania in an extension to our World Heritage Area would be devastating for resource industries. That’s why another of the targets the Hodgman Liberal Government has set is no more lock ups. Given the very recent history of Labor and the Greens conspiring to lock up productive land, only a Liberal Government can give this guarantee.
Advice from the Department of State Growth shows that the Greens’ land grab would ban mining in an area containing more than 1000 known mineral deposits, including at least eight current mining leases. Based on past expenditure, it would cost the State upwards of $150 million in mining and exploration investment over 20 years.
What the Greens and those pushing these lock ups don’t understand is that tourism, mining, forestry and other industries can and do co-exist and prosper – the suggestion by Green groups that we must shut down resources industries to grow tourism is simply an economically destructive ideology. It is no coincidence that our tourism industry is enjoying record numbers year after year under a Hodgman Liberal government which gives all sectors the chance to grow and create jobs.
The Hodgman Government has a Plan to Build Your Future, and by working towards a target of a 50 per cent increase in new mining ventures over five years, we will see growth in the number of jobs which will support workers and their families living in Tasmania’s regional areas.
- Guy Barnett is the Minister for Resources