Budget Paper No.6 1997/98 Northern Territory Economy
Tabled Paper 3223
Tabled Papers for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) states that With signs of increasing growth in economic activity in most regions around the world in the latter part of 1996 and the expectation that rates of growth of gross domestic product and industrial production will rise further in 1997, world demand for minerals, metals and energy is forecast to rise. Territory mine production is also expected to grow, supported by sustained increases in exploration and new capital expenditure in recent years. Figure 8.3 shows the value of mineral production and processing to the Northern Territory to 1998-99. Production trends are estimated to result in mineral production of $1 243 million in 1996-97, a 7% increase over 1995-96. Present DME forecasts estimate mineral production of $1 412 million in 1997-98, and $1 486 million in 1998-99, dependent upon the resolution of land access and environmental issues. Northern Territory production of gold is expected to increase in 1996-97, further consolidating the gains made in 1995-96. The expansion in production largely reflects the commissioning of new projects combined with growth from some existing mines. A major factor behind the expansion in Territory gold production has been the increased level of gold exploration which arose as a result of higher gold prices. Gold prices are forecast by ABARE to ease in 1997. World alumina prices are forecast to increase in 1997, while domestic supply of alumina is expected to rise in response to increased Australian aluminium production. World base metal consumption is forecast to grow strongly in 1997 - average zinc and lead prices are forecast to rise in 1997, while the average copper price should further weaken. Although the Northern Territory has continued to grow in stature as a mining region, a major source of uncertainty and concern in the mining industry has been the capacity of the Government to issue valid tenure for resource exploration and mining. The full effects of the Wik decision handed down by the High Court of Australia on 23 December 1996 are still to be determined. As a consequence of the Wik decision, the validity of over 800 titles granted and 650 titles renewed since the commencement of the Native Title Act on 1 January 1994 is uncertain. Any compensation that may eventually need to be paid for acts of government during this period is also a concern. Following the High Courts decision on the Wik claim, DME stopped issuing mining titles on pastoral leases, pending clarification of the issue and its resolution by the Commonwealth Government. It is expected that the longer it takes for the impact of the Wik decision to be clarified, the greater will be its cumulative effect. Mining 45