The WA mining and resource industry reached a whopping $113.8 billion in 2013.
This is a significant achievement despite a significant reduction in exploration expenditure in the mining State.
Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion, said it was a very good outcome, particularly given the softening commodity prices and the strength of the Australian dollar in the first half of 2013.
“mining in WA contributes around $68 billion in sales”
Iron ore mining continues to be WA’s most valuable export. It contributes a huge $A68 billion, or 76 percent of the total sales in the mineral sector.
Mr Marmion was also quoted as saying “strong demand from China meant the iron ore sector achieved a record 556 million tonnes in exports [in 2013], a 16 per cent increase over the 2012 period”.
$2.6 million fund to develop WA mining iron ore resources
Mining exploration in Western Australia has slowed down in 2013. This has meant a 17 per cent or $A38 million drop in iron ore exploration investment which has prompted the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, to fund a $2.6 million plan to help remedy this situation over three years.
The new fund aims to support new ways to overcome the technical challenges of exploring in the vast uncharted and challenging terrain Western Australia is notorious for.
Given the size of WA and the remote location of many of the existing iron ore mines, which sit hundreds of kilometres from the coastal access points, the challenge for WA mining exploration companies is to locate new and economically viable iron ore deposits in these desolate and barren locations.
“mining companies invested billions of dollars in WA”
WA mining costs soar with new mine development
Mining companies operating in WA have invested billions of dollars into developing infrastructure such as roads and rail networks to connect the remote mines to coastal areas, which then allows deep water ship loading facilities to be built.
More often than not, infrastructure such as this is not shared between mining companies, resulting in a vast network of stand alone rail systems which exist to serve only the mining companies like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals.
Locating and developing new mines such as the Gina Rinehart backed Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara is another example of an iron ore resource that has needed billions of dollars worth of investment.
“exploration is pivotal to developing future resources”
Despite a stockpiling of iron ore in major Chinese ports, and other nations developing their own iron ore mining projects, Western Australian mining companies still produce record-breaking tonnage that keeps thousands and thousands of Australians employed in the mines. Therefore, exploration is pivotal to developing future resources to sustain Australian mining well into the future.
WA government adds $7.5 million
The Minerals Research Institute has manage to secure State government backing for the new exploration project, with the Government chipping in an additional $7.5 million.
Mr Marmion reportedly explained that “the Government needs to facilitate investment in minerals research to ensure the State’s mining operations are competitive with operations in lower-cost jurisdictions”. He also went on to say that “Western Australia was recently ranked number one in the world for investment attractiveness by the Fraser Institute, however we must continue to work on ensuring we remain number one”.
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