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Copper key to mining growth in South Australia

Resources & Energy

South Australia’s copper push, the pursuit of minerals for batteries and the need for more investment in exploration will be on the discussion table over the next two days in Adelaide.

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The 2018 Paydirt SA Resources & Energy Investment Conference was opened this morning by SA Mines and Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

Key speakers include BHP, SA’s new head of the Mines and Energy Department and the national lobby, the Association of Mining & Exploration Companies (AMEC).

Paydirt’s Executive Chairman Bill Repard, said various Issues at stake and to be discussed during the two-day event include whether South Australia is yet to experience the heightened level of investment and exploration activity of some of its Australian peers.

South Australia hosts 68 per cent of Australia’s economic demonstrated resources of copper. The state has a number of long-life deposits, including Olympic Dam, which is the fourth largest copper resource in the world.

Oz Minerals operates the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in the state’s far north and is also constructing the Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia’s highly prospective Gawler Craton.

On the opening morning of the conference, South Australian Minerals & Petroleum Experts Group (SAMPEG) Board member Derek Carter said mineral and petroleum exports were tracking almost equally with the state’s agricultural and food sectors as underpinning South Australia’s economy.

“Our outlook for increased copper discovery and production is extremely strong, with a target of potentially quadrupling by 2030, the 261,000 tonnes of copper concentrate exports produced in 2017,” he said.

“There is strong State Government support for this strategy. There is also, through Federal Government and industry backing for the CRC project, a robust focus on more productive, safer and environmentally safer drilling, new technologies to collect data while drilling, and to undertake drilling in those under-explored areas of South Australia that continue to exhibit potential mineral wealth.

“However, there are some challenges. Exploration expenditure tends to follow commodity cycles and there has been low annual exploration expenditure in South Australia in recent years.”

Carter said about $188 million was spent on mineral exploration across South Australia in 2016-2017.

“However, prices for South Australia’s major mineral export commodities –copper and gold – have strengthened – so we need to ensure that these sectors attract increased investment in line with the firming prices.”

South Australia is a globally important producer of copper, uranium and zircon.

The state also produces iron ore, zinc, lead and silver.

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