Comment – IPA on Mineral Exploration in Australia

Tomorrow’s jobs are the result of today’s investment, particularly in the mining industry.

Despite inevitable short-term commodity price fluctuations, with many hundreds of millions of people in Asia moving into the middle class over the next two decades, the demand for quality minerals will continue to increase. However, global investment in minerals exploration is highly mobile.

If Australia makes it too hard to get a project off the ground, and persists with uncompetitive taxation, energy and environmental approval policies, then mining companies will increasingly source their product from elsewhere.

At a ceremony for her Roy Hill project in March this year, Gina Rinehart spoke about ‘the onerous burden of thousands of government approvals, permits and licences, any of which could have risked the ultimate end value of the project, and all of which add expense to the project.’

Given that mining is still our No.1 export, Australia needs to get serious about getting rid of minerals exploration red and green tape. In the first instance, the Australian Parliament must pass the Federal Government’s amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to curtail vexatious litigation by special interest groups.

Whether a mining project gets off the ground or not, should depend on the forces of demand and supply – not on how long environmental campaigners can stretch out their objections or how desperate governments are for additional revenue.

Brett Hogan,
Director Energy and Innovation Policy, Institute of Public Affairs,
Melbourne

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