Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 30 October 2012
Parliamentary Record 1
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 30 October 2012 260 There are also many emerging projects in Central Australia that have the potential to significantly increase this industrys contribution to the economy of the Alice Springs region. The Territory is also emerging as an important player in the global petroleum industry. Downstream gas processing is a tremendously important industry for the Territory economy as Darwin becomes one of Australias leading LNG hubs. This government will continue to work to encourage further investment in downstream processing and to ensure that Territory business has the opportunity to maximise the benefits presented by major projects such as the INPEX LNG plant. The Territorys petroleum industry is about to expand further with the recognition of the vast potential of onshore regions of the Territory for unconventional petroleum such as shale oil and shale gas. This year, shale gas and shale oil exploration activity has moved to a new level in the Territory with a number of promising early results. As regulators, this government will work with industry to address community concerns around horizontal stimulation of wells - or fracking as it is more commonly known. Shale gas and oil exploration in the NT is geologically and technically very different to coal seam exploration which has caused so much controversy in the eastern states and, of course, the United States of America. This favourable geology, combined with best practice regulation and safeguards being implemented by my department, point to a positive future for this exciting industry in the Territory. This government will work with industry to continue to keep the community informed and allay any fears that exist around the application of these new technologies. This government is well aware that the future of our mining industry relies on a healthy exploration industry. It is only by encouraging and supporting companies to explore new ground that we will continue to grow the industry. In a globally competitive environment for attracting exploration, the Territory government has an important role to play in highlighting the benefits and opportunities for explorers to commit their exploration dollars here in the NT. Exploration in the Territory has been at record levels with around $210m spent on exploration for minerals in the last financial year. However, we need to continue to work hard to maintain and grow these high levels of exploration, given falling prices for many of the commodities and difficulties faced by small explorers to raise funds for exploration. I believe that with increasing knowledge and understanding of the Territorys huge resource potential we will continue to raise the NTs profile in the global industry and prove that we are a good investment. It is a priority for this government to ensure the Territory is an attractive place to invest in exploration and mining. For this reason, a key platform of our pre-election mining policy was to continue to support the pre-competitive geosciences programs undertaken by the geological survey in my department. As minister, I clearly understand the importance of providing high-quality, accessible geosciences data and exploration incentives to attract explorers to the Territory and make their exploration more effective. There are already numerous examples of how the geological survey activities had led to new discoveries by industry over recent years, and I will continue to support these efforts to grow the industry further. But attracting explorers into the Territory is just one challenge. We also need to ensure companies can raise the funds they need to undertake meaningful exploration and projects towards actual development. The government recognises that foreign investment in our resources sector is absolutely vital to provide the necessary capital to fund largescale exploration and mining developments in the NT. Over recent years, China has become an increasingly important player in our resources industry and there is no doubt that our relationship with China is a critical element to the growth of the industry. To that end, in a few days time I will be personally leading a business mission to China based around the China Mining Congress in Tianjin. This business mission will include one of the largest mining industry contingents ever invited to join a Territory government delegation. This includes a number of junior companies with projects in the NT that need a major investor to help them get their projects over the line. Assisting these companies attract investment can have tremendous long-term benefits for regional areas of the Territory, but attracting international investment into our exploration and mining sectors in not all about China. This government will be seeking a diversity of international investment in the NT, including other key markets such as North America, Japan, Korea and other emerging economies in our region. Finally, while I have already indicated the new government is pro-development, we take our regulatory responsibilities seriously. This government supports the responsible development of our mineral resources and following of due process with regard to those regulatory approvals. Put simply, projects which meet regulatory guidelines, including environmental obligations, and adequately address economic, cultural and social outcomes, will be approved.
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