Mining Industry | QUESTION TIME

08 Sep 2021

Ms LUETHEN (King) (14:31): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister please update the house on the contribution mining is making to the South Australian economy and the jobs created for South Australians?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:32): Thank you to the member for King, an outstanding local member of parliament—and, yes, I can. It is with great pleasure that I can talk about the contribution of the mining sector to our economy and to employment. We would all know that over the last 18 months or more the global pandemic has had a huge impact, an enormous impact on our state's economy and further afield, and the mining sector has worked extraordinarily hard to keep itself afloat.

Obviously, the companies want to keep working, want to keep earning, but from the government's perspective the reason this has been so important is that it has kept people employed—kept thousands and thousands of people employed in South Australia—and, also very importantly, kept the flow of raw materials and processed materials coming out of these mining operations which then go on whether to export or whether as inputs into other parts of our economy. It is incredibly important, and very hard work has achieved great results, including some record sales performance results for the mining sector during this time.

I say again that, most importantly, keeping their employees working has been the greatest contribution of this sector. Of course, the government has contributed as well. The government has worked incredibly closely with the resources industry, with SA Health, with all the authorities in place during the global pandemic. We have contributed in other ways too. We have tried very hard to support the industry at the exploration end. We all know that exploration is an expensive business. It's a risky business but, when exploration is fruitful, it rewards our economy enormously, but it also takes quite a while.

From the point in time when a fruitful well is discovered or a fruitful mineral resources deposit is discovered, it can be five, 10, 15 or, in some cases, 20 years until the flow of a productive mine comes along. So our Accelerated Discovery Initiative has been incredibly important with regard to supporting the industry. I would like to acknowledge both OZ Minerals and BHP, our two largest miners in South Australia—OZ Minerals with Prominent Hill and the Carrapateena mine and BHP with the Olympic Dam mine. They have both done extraordinarily well. They are not the only ones, but they are our largest contributors in this regard.

It is fantastic that Prominent Hill recently announced that it would be extending its mine life until 2036—$600 million of investment and of course continuation of 1,200 jobs on site until 2036, which is a huge step forward for our state. BHP has had the largest copper production on site in the last year since BHP took the mine over in 2005, so they have done a really truly extraordinary job.

Let me just share some more specific figures: BHP in South Australia has total payments to government of $136 million, BHP's royalties alone are $102 million, their combined employees are 7,788 employees, their total spend on suppliers in South Australia is $1 billion and they directly engage 265 different suppliers across South Australia. That is just one snapshot of many companies.

I can think of Iluka, Heathgate, Hillgrove, Santos, Beach, Cooper Energy, Strike Energy, Tri Star and many others at the production end of things and many more again on the exploration side of things, and then there is the services sector that supports all those companies, which is vital. It's a really important industry for our state.