Tapping into resources such as lithium is at the heart of a Federal Labor promise of $75 million for mining exploration.
“We want to ensure Australian mines are powering the commodities of the future – such as lithium – as we build the renewable energy economy,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.
“Australia has every mineral needed to make a lithium battery domestically – batteries that are used in electric cars, smart phones and to store renewable energy.
“Our $75 million investment will reverse the Liberals’ decision to axe the Exploring for the Future program – a program that uses cutting edge technology to find future deposits through building underground maps that show where mineral deposits lie.”
The Queensland Resources Council welcomed Federal Labor’s commitment to new resource discoveries, but is calling for a clear position for the future role of coal.
Mr Shorten said the Exploring for the Future program had delivered important successes – like showing the South Nicholson Basin north of Mount Isa was three times larger than previously thought.
“Mining contributes more export income for Australia than all other industries combined, but 80 per cent of its $221 billion in earnings during 2017-18 came from mines discovered more than 40 years ago, and our global share of exploration spending has halved in the last two decades,” he said.
“Studies show for every dollar of initial geological survey by government, mining companies spend between $5 and $15 on subsequent exploration.
“We need to be supporting that investment to discover future mines and deposits – which is exactly what Labor will do.”
Labor’s Future Mines and Jobs Plan includes:
- Establishing the Australian Future Mines Centre,
- Providing $2 million to support 100 new scholarships for mining engineers, with 50 of them for women,
- Delivering an industry data and skills road map,
- Developing a Resources White Paper as recommended by the bipartisan Resources 2030 Taskforce Report.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Queensland had a huge potential, particularly through the North West Minerals Province, to develop the new economy minerals so essential for the global growth in renewable energy technology, electric vehicles and battery storage.
“Prior to the election, the QRC urged the Coalition and Labor to embrace this opportunity, and we welcome the announcement by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten today,” he said.
“Any investment in additional investigation for resources, like $75 million for a road map for a new generation of mines, will help deliver new discoveries, new investment, new exports and new jobs for Queensland.”
Mr Macfarlane said in 2017-18, metals contributed $9.3 billion to Queensland’s gross regional product and supported more than 50,000 full-time equivalent jobs or the equivalent of 2 per cent of Queensland’s workforce. The metals sector also contributed $370 million in royalties.
But he said this contribution continued to be dwarfed by the role of coal in the Queensland economy.
It contributed $43.4 billion to the Queensland economy and more than 215,000 full-time equivalent jobs or 9 per cent of the State’s workforce.
Coal royalties paid to the Queensland Government were $3.8 billion in 2017-18 and are expected to exceed $4 billion this financial year.
“During this Federal election campaign, where winning Queensland seats is so crucial, no Party should be vague about their commitment to coal,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“All parties, vying for Queensland support, should be clear on their own support for the development of new coal mines, particularly in the Galilee Basin, and the continuation of existing mines producing both thermal and metallurgical coal.”