Minister predicts bright future for Eastern Goldfields
The Goldfields-Esperance region will remain as one of the most important areas in Australia for mineral production according to Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore.
Norman Moore, WA Minister for Mines & Petroleum
Moore made the forecast while officially opening the inaugural Mining the Eastern Goldfields Conference held in Kalgoorlie-Boulder recently.
“In 2008-09 the total value of mineral production from the Goldfields region was worth $9.8billion, representing about 20 per cent of the total State mineral output,” he said.
The Minister said he was thrilled that people were still talking about the region’s future more than a century after Paddy Hannan changed Western Australia’s economic fortunes.
“From those origins up until 2008, the Goldfield’s region has accounted for more than 60 per cent of WA’s gold output and an astonishing 98 per cent of the State’s nickel output,” he said.
“Despite its long history of mining, the Goldfields region is tipped to increase its contribution in the coming years and also diversify its mineral production.
“While the region’s traditional strengths have been gold and nickel, I am encouraged to see a number of new projects based on minerals previously uncommon in the Goldfields such as rare earths, lithium, base metals and heavy mineral sands.”
Moore said diversification would help to guard against fluctuations in market conditions for particular commodities. However, the record run of gold prices had been great for that particular industry.
“A number of projects, old and new, look set to safeguard the region’s predominant commodity, and the State Government recently approved the Golden Pike cutback expansion of the Super Pit, extending the life of this vital project beyond 2020,” he said.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) is satisfied the project will comply with the conditions placed on it by the Minister for Environment.
“These will be closely monitored throughout the pit expansion to ensure impacts on nearby residential areas are kept to a minimum,” the Minister said.
In terms of the future of the gold sector, Moore said Tropicana loomed large on the horizon, with the five million ounce mine expected to be commissioned in 2013.
“Several other deposits have now been discovered in the surrounding region and more could follow in the years ahead as a result of the Liberal-National Government’s Royalties for Regions Exploration Incentive Scheme,” he said.
“A number of other gold mines and expansions are already being pursued.
“Additionally, with the moderate increase in nickel prices that began late last year, a number of other stalled projects may also restart, as well as the potential for entirely new projects on finds such as Nebo and Babel in the West Musgrave region.
“These are considered to be the biggest nickel deposits discovered anywhere in the world during the past decade.”
The Minister also predicted a bright future for uranium, following the State Government’s policy shift to allow uranium mining in WA, with a number of sites under development within the Goldfield’s region itself.
“In this respect the State Government has insisted that companies developing uranium mines do so in the safest and most environmentally responsible manner possible with a regulatory framework that is considered best practice by world standards, to satisfy community concerns,” he said.
Moore said the Government fully recognised the importance of the mining sector to the regions and he was focused on reforming approvals for new exploration and development approvals, and the development of a lead agency framework on approvals.
“This framework is supported by other reforms including legislative changes and a restructure of the Environmental Protection Authority,” he said.
“The Government wants to do its utmost to ensure WA regains its position as Australia’s most welcoming destination for resources industry investment.”