The State Government today (Tuesday 23 February 2016) launched a long-term strategy to produce and export more than $8 billion of copper a year and entrench South Australia as one of the world’s major suppliers of the red metal.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the State’s Copper Strategy sets out clear pathways to support the industry to triple its copper production to 1 million tonnes per year within the next two decades.
“Currently South Australia hosts 68 per cent of Australia’s copper resources within the Copper Belt - home to Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill, Kanmantoo and the world-class copper discovery at Carrapateena,” Mr Weatherill said.
“By trebling our copper production, we have the potential to create up to 10,000 extra jobs, increasing the workforce involved in the sector to 15,000 people.
“This would equate to South Australia producing and exporting more than $8 billion of copper per year, with the red metal remaining the State’s number one export commodity.”
South Australia produced and exported $1.9 billion of copper in 2014-15, and last year the copper industry employed about 5000 people in exploration and production.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Government had already taken several early steps to implement the Strategy including providing $20 million for PACE Copper and $10 million towards a partnership with OZ Minerals to support innovative research into a process to improve copper-in-concentrate.
“The $20 million PACE Copper initiative includes the world’s largest high-resolution airborne survey to unlock the underground riches in South Australia’s Copper Belt,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“Overall, PACE Copper aims to generate more than $400 million in private mineral exploration return for the State, and create and retain up to 1000 direct and indirect jobs within the minerals industry.”
Further Copper Strategy initiatives include:
- Building South Australia as an International Copper Technology and Research Hub, through leveraging existing copper research initiatives and programs.
- Identifying infrastructure needs and developing innovative approaches including finding suitable water supplies and transport opportunities for current and future mines.
- Running Copper Strategy Success Seminars with mining industry, researchers and services companies to share innovations, ideas, build skills and learn from experts in the field.
- Developing regional approaches to changes in the copper mining industry to support transfer of skills and jobs and support new ventures in regional communities.
- Establishing South Australia as a nationally recognised centre for copper mining services.
- Attracting major international resource and service companies with deep mining expertise and technology.
- Supporting groundwater research to find long-term suitable water sources with the Goyder Institute for Water Research in South Australia.
- Supporting international information exchange programs with Chile and China who are world leaders in copper production.
The development of the strategy included an extensive consultation process with input from explorers, research institutions, mining service companies, local communities and Aboriginal representatives.
As part of the consultation process, three action themes were identified which aim to bring forward exploration and discovery of new copper reserves, improve productivity and efficiencies of local copper producers and improve the industry’s capacity to engage with the South Australian community.
Download South Australia's Copper Strategy (PDF 3.13 MB)
News release: Tuesday 23 February 2016
Premier Jay Weatherill
Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis