Time to tackle 'infrastructure trifecta'
Cr McCulloch said no growth was possible in the vast region without fundamental improvements in the 'infrastructure trifecta' of energy, transport and water supply.
She said the costs and handling of the three main infrastructure essentials were the main issues constricting much-needed investment in the region.
“Government and private sector support to improve these three factors is crucial to ensuring the future viability of industry across Australia’s north, particularly for its globally renowned but maturing mining sector and its more prospective and emerging gas, agricultural and tourism upside,” Cr McCulloch said.
Her comments come ahead of a keynote address she will deliver next month at a major forum on the resource-driven development of northern and regional Australia.
The forum is part of a ‘Big Issues’ summit day at the inaugural four-day convention of the Australia Geoscience Council, being held in Adelaide from October 15 during Earth Science Week 2018.
Her comments also follow a statement this week from Queensland KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter saying that the North West Minerals Province (NWMP) must connect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) to kick off the next wave of major mining investment and jobs in the region.
Prices for large industrial customers in the NWMP ranged from $140 to $180 per megawatt hour, while those connected to the NEM paid $60 to $90 per megawatt hour, he said.
“It’s estimated that access to electricity prices at $85 to $100 per megawatt hour will make hundreds of millions of tonnes of minerals in the NWMP economically viable to mine,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter said major mining investment in the North West was being hampered by excessive electricity prices, and that government inaction on the issue was putting the region’s future at risk.
Cr McCulloch pointed to the just-released North West Minerals Province report, which addresses the future requirements of the copper, gold, lead and zinc regions around the city.
“That report is symptomatic of the level of focus needed to concentrate political and business wills to ensure a planned and well-orchestrated pathway to growth emerges, so that the region prospers, not wilts,” she said.
“With global commodity prices improving, there is an opportunity for renewal in northern Australia’s mining industries, but this renewal needs more efficient use of available infrastructure, improved exploration and mining approvals processes, encouraging the processing of waste material and attracting fresh resources-based capital.”