Driving down energy prices is vital to the future success of South Australia resources sector, the state government says.
Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says the industry has shaken off the worst of the recent downturn with analysts looking to 2018 as the first year of an extended surge.
But he says reducing the cost of energy and improving energy security is crucial and will be a key priority of the new Liberal government.
“This is absolutely essential to underpin a positive business climate to grow jobs and the economy and to attract business to the state,” the minister told the Paydirt resources conference in Adelaide on Monday.
“And you all know how important affordable and reliable energy supply is to resource projects.”
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said South Australia’s existing resources, including 66 per cent of Australia’s copper, 79 per cent of uranium and large deposits of graphite and magnetite, offered excellent potential for growth.
However, he said talk of global trade tensions highlighted the importance of keeping a sharp focus on recent productivity gains.
“During periods of economic expansion, base metals are the first materials to support a bustling economy,” he said.
“So the work must go on to produce them and to bring forward new discoveries.”
Earlier, the conference was told that SA needed to attract more money for mineral and petroleum exploration.
Derek Carter, a board member with the SA Minerals and Petroleum Experts Group, said the sector had a strong outlook but was facing some challenges.
“Exploration expenditure tends to follow commodity cycles and there has been low annual exploration expenditure in SA in recent years,” Mr Carter told the Paydirt conference in Adelaide on Monday.
He said about $188 million was spent on mineral exploration across SA in 2016/17.
“However, prices for SA’s major mineral export commodities, copper and gold, have strengthened so we need to ensure that these sectors attract increased investment in line with the firming prices.”