Minerals Council urges Victorian government to harness state’s mineral wealth for economic growth
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has called upon the Victorian government to take advantage of its natural riches with the adoption of a number of new initiatives.
In a pre-2024 budget submission, the MCA’s Victorian division suggested that the state government should aim to have multiple new gold-antimony, mineral sands/rare earths and base metal mines by 2030 that will create thousands of jobs and establish supply chain opportunities for businesses across regional Victoria.
The submission noted that – while over the last three years Victoria has broken exploration spending records with $572.6 million invested – the state is still facing a challenge in converting exploration into mining projects.
It also stated that, along with its natural precious and base metals bounty, there is also an opportunity for Victoria to be a major participant in developing critical minerals.
There are six potential critical minerals projects in the pipeline in Victoria, from antimony near Kilmore to rare earths near Swan Hill, while Victoria has known mineral sands deposits containing zircon and titanium minerals, along with rare earth element-bearing monazite and xenotime, which are inputs to wind turbines and batteries.
Number of key initiatives
In its pre-budget submission, the MCA has put forward a number of key initiatives it says can help turn the state’s mineral potential into commercial reality.
Heading the list is efficient government approvals, with red tape still a key element in tying up projects.
The MCA said the government must improve approvals time frames and build capacity in its Resources Victoria operation to create a more efficient approvals process.
The submission also called for more support for regional skills development, the introduction of competitive tax parameters, support for environmentally low-impact processing technologies and increased geoscience investment to help secure new mines by the end of the decade.
The MCA belives the expansion of investment in pre-competitive geoscience data will help promote critical minerals projects, discoveries and processing technologies.
The MCA says the government should also budget for a co-funded minerals exploration drilling initiative and invest in critical minerals processing and infrastructure programs.
To help make the state more competitive – particularly with regard to fees, charges and taxes – the MCA has called for Victoria’s gold royalty to be reformed and regressive elements removed.
It also proposed that no new taxes, rates or charges on mining and exploration be imposed to help make Victoria a more attractive investment destination.
Skills development a key
Helping to create a skilled workforce is another major area in which the MCA belives the Victorian government can play a role.
It suggested that the government could help build a skills pipeline through a regional package and consider partnering with MCA Victoria and industry to develop new development opportunities.
It also raised the potential to promote earth sciences in secondary and tertiary education, believing there is an opportunity to provide pathways to mining jobs in regional Victoria through tailored Technical and Further Education (TAFE) entry-level courses.
It proposed the government could explore opportunities for seamless skills development across TAFEs and universities for new and continuing workers.