A COMBINATION of technological advancements, emerging markets and a supportive State Government showed South Australia’s mining industry is committed to fighting and kicking its way through a tough down cycle.
While securing risk capital in the current world financial climate remains one of the main challenges facing local mining companies today, the three-day Paydirt South Australian Resources & Energy Investment Conference included a number of positives.
Mining companies showed a willingness to embrace new technologies enabling them to help reduce costs and speed up exploration initiatives.
Rebecca Holland-Kennedy, managing director of PepinNini Minerals said the company was using technology not used in South Australia before to investigate a large area in the state’s far north west.
Known as the “SPECTREM2000 EM survey technique”, the fixed wing survey provides airborne electro-magnetic surveying over vast areas at substantially reduced cost.
Ms Holland-Kennedy said the technique was not just cost effective – the planned survey would cost around $500,000 – but also provided a much more rapid delineation of target areas for drilling.
“Mining companies in South Australia are responding to the tough times at the moment by looking at different approaches to make projects more attractive to investors and to become more efficient,’’ she said.
“I think we are also seeing an increased focus on research and development as this area continues to have excellent potential.’’
By using new and innovative applications companies are also taking a step towards receiving federal government funding.
The opening of Australia’s first operational, graphite-producing mine in 25 years on the Eyre Peninsula near Port Lincoln, and the expectation of two more by 2016, is another positive sign.
The relatively recent discovery of “graphene’’ – a single, one-atom thick sheet of graphite – has the hi tech world abuzz with possible applications ranging from replacing silicon in computer chips to creating flexible computer screens and making batteries ten times smaller and ten times more powerful that currently available.
The Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (now known as the Department of State Development) was also showing its support and understanding of issues facing the industry with a commitment to process mine lease applications within a six month time frame.
Ted Tyne, executive director of Minerals, Resources and Development within the department said the mining industry had got the message the South Australian government was committed to being the best possible state government to do business with.
“Over the past five years we have streamlined our back office processes resulting in most applications receiving approval within six or seven months,’’ he said.
“This compares to other jurisdictions who can have waiting times of one to two years.’’
“There has also been a commitment to extending both the Drill Core Library at Tonsley Park as well as the Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) initiative.’’