Home' InDaily : January 8th 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
January 8 - 14, 2010 news
South Australians will be
shortchanged if lack of
clarity on mining access in the
Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA)
continues, SA s Chamber of Mines
and Energy has warned.
Mining was vital to the State s
growth but was being held back by
uncertainty about miners ability to
access mineral deposits in the WPA
region, which covers 127,000 sq km
or about 13 per cent of SA, and is
home to the world s biggest defence
weapons testing range.
SACOME CEO Jason Kuchel,
said the current situation was
ridiculous and clear guidelines
were vital to the State s future
"South Australians should be
outraged if the mineral wealth of
this state is locked up for decades to
come because access has not been
granted," he said.
"This is about unlocking the
wealth that belongs to South
Australians. Only about 10 per cent
of the profits from mining opera-
tions go to the mining company
and about 90 per cent directly
comes back to the people of South
Australia through royalties, taxes,
The WPA occupies a third of the
Gawler Craton, the most prospec-
tive mining region in the State, with
an estimated mineral wealth of
more than $1.4 trillion.
Miner Western Plains Resources
last week pulled out of its
Commonwealth Hill project in the
WPA, citing security of tenure
issues resulting from recent
initiatives taken by the Department
of Defence, which owns the land.
The decision was made despite
indications the area had iron ore,
magnetite and base metal potential.
"Until there is greater clarity
Western Plains Resources won t be
the last company to pull out of the
region," Mr Kuchel said.
"Much of the future economic
prosperity of this State is at stake
-- but we need a clear cut direction
sooner rather than later."
While mining is allowed in some
areas of the WPA, the Defence
Department does not allow it in
others. The State Government
grants exploration licences in the
WPA, but permission to mine the
land is not guaranteed and needs to
be approved by the Department of
Approval is dependent on the
sensitivity of the area and sched-
uled defence activities.
The SA Government and the
Federal Department of Defence
were in discussions last year in an
effort to resolve the issue.
"Not having clear rules around
the issue is laughable," Mr Kuchel
SA s economic fortunes lie firmly
in the mining industry, with mining
exports expected to account for
more than 50 per cent of the State s
total exports within the next five
"Without mining this State will
continue to be fairly stagnant," Mr
"The Defence industry has helped
the State maintain the status quo,
but it is mining that brings in the
Western Plains Resources
abandoned its Commonwealth Hill
project when it could not commit a
further $660,000 to further explore
the area without secure knowledge
it would be given permission to
establish a mining operation there.
Western Plains Resources
chairman Bob Duffin said it was
becoming clear the Department of
Defence intended to ramp up its use
of the WPA.
"We understand the Department
of Defence s position but nonethe-
less we believe the benefits of
mining within the WPA -- creation
of jobs, economic activity, develop-
ment of infrastructure etc -- need to
be considered carefully.
"I doubt that Port Bonython will
ever be developed unless our Hawks
Nest magnetite project is developed
because the total tonnage to develop
a project the size of Port Bonython
is more than is in prospect at the
moment," he said.
"If the Defence Department
simply rubs that out then there will
not be the critical mass to make an
economic case for the development
of Port Bonython."
The issue of accessibility in the
WPA affects about 80 companies
with tenements in the WPA.
"The Defence Department needs
to put out a clear and transparent
set of guidelines we can all live
with," Mr Duffin said.
Co-existence of mining and
defence interests was possible.
"The risks associated with
mining within the WPA can be
managed by the mining companies
and Defence in good faith, and SA
and the nation can have both," he
"The Defence Department does
not have to eliminate risks, they just
need to be managed and mitigated."
The issue of access to the WPA
was ignited late last year when
the Foreign Investment Review
Board approved a takeover by the
Chinese of OzMinerals after its
WPA Prominent Hill operation was
excised from the deal.
Mr Kuchel said SACOME
remained keen to be included in
discussions between the State and
Federal governments to resolve the
Fair Work inspectors will visit
almost 50,000 small businesses
across Australia to help them
understand and comply with
the Federal Government s new
Deputy Prime Minister Julia
Gillard was in Adelaide earlier
this week as the first of a planned
5000 visits in SA began. She joined
Fair Work ombudsman Nicholas
Wilson visiting a hairdresser and
Ms Gillard said fewer costs associ-
ated with red tape and dealing with
various state and federal award
systems would save Australian
businesses an estimated $4.8 billion
in the next 10 years.
Ms Gillard said the transition to
the new laws had been sensible and
"We are taking a very practical
approach, she said. "We ve
created one uniform system for the
private sector, a lot less red tape,
simpler for employers and fairer for
Mr Wilson said his agency would
stand "shoulder to shoulder" with
small businesses and would target
private sector employers entering
the workplace relations system for
the first time.
"We are very serious about our
job of building knowledge and
fairer workplaces, and are strongly
focused on ensuring the community
understands its workplace rights
and obligations," he said.
Changes that took effect on
January 1 delivered the final step in
the Federal Government s abolition
of the Coalition s Work Choices
Labor has scrapped 4000 awards
and replaced them with 122 and 10
national employment standards.
Retailers have expressed concern
about the new system, warning of
loss of more than 3000 retail jobs in
SA, NSW, Queensland and the ACT.
The hospitality industry is also
worried about the impact of higher
Mr Wilson said the Fair Work
hotline took 4000 calls a day before
Christmas about the changes to
awards and promised to take a
flexible approach to businesses
found in breach of the new laws.
"It is always our preference to
work with employers to educate
them and help them voluntarily
rectify any non-compliance issues
we identify," he said.
"The Fair Work Act gives us
a safety net of fair, relevant and
enforceable minimum employment
terms and conditions by which to
encourage harmonious, produc-
tive and co-operative workplace
SA growth warning
from mining expert
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