‘Get out here on the ground’ was a clear message from a key North West Queensland group as part of an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s Northern Australia agenda.
The government was also urged to focus on common-user infrastructure to bolster mining activity as part of its Northern Australia agenda.
Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Zone (MITEZ) was among those making submissions to a Senate Select Committee inquiry into the effectiveness of the government’s Northern Australia agenda.
In a written submission, MITEZ highlighted the need for the Office of Northern Australia to get out on the ground, noting it had received very limited contact from those involved.
It said it supported actions to bring about investment into viable and sustainable projects in Northern Australia that would enable local communities including First Nations people to develop opportunities and bring about economic and social benefits.
“In this regard, the office of Northern Australia needs to engage with those on the ground who recognise such local opportunities but may require advice and assistance to translate their ideas into sound business cases in order to attract support and investment to make project ideas become a reality,” president David Glasson wrote.
“For this reason, particularly for those communities who do not have economic development resources, the Office of Northern Australia needs to have a greater presence and be seen on the ground out in the regions in order to discover more of these opportunities and ideas.”
MITEZ also stressed that maintaining and extending the life of existing industries could be as important as developing new and emerging industries.
“Take for instance with mining, some of the more mature mines in the MITEZ region are now reaching end of their mine life due to diminishing ore reserves, however if the remaining lower grade ores were to be supplemented with ores from surrounding mines that can be blended and treated using existing plant and infrastructure then this can be a win for both mines,” Mr Glasson wrote.
“The concept of common-user infrastructure to be shared and utilised by a number of small miners will mean they would not need to invest in having their own dedicated facilities for treating ores but rather this would go to a centralised facility.
“The Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda can assist by providing loans or finance to construct such facilities and to fund haulage roads to enable miners to access the facility.
“Allowing small mines to get to a production stage rather than leaving resources in the ground would create jobs and export income as well as mineral royalties and taxes for Australia.”