Infrastructure and skills investment to support the mining boom
Posted : Friday, June 29, 2012
The State Government must continue to spend on critical
infrastructure and skills programs if the State is to reap the
benefits of the mining boom and growth in Asian economies,
SA Premier Jay Weatherill told a CEDA audience in
Mr Weatherill spoke about the SA Government's recent announced
of a $194 million initiative to make courses free in priority areas
of skills shortages like science, technology, engineering and
The Government will also invest $10.8 billion in infrastructure
to support the mining boom over the next four years ‑ despite a
dramatic decline in expected revenues, down $2.8 billion on
In the face of doomsday predictions about consequences of a drop
in the State's credit rating, Mr Weatherill said the Government had
invested in geosciences surveying in an area near Woomera, which is
estimated to sit on around $35 billion in resources.
"We don't believe this is a time to sit on our hands waiting for
things to get better and in fact this is precisely the time we need
to seize the opportunities ahead of us," he said.
The SA Government will continue its push to promote a high value
manufacturing sector and a range of measures to make SA attractive
for high-skilled workers, he said.
The mining boom represented a "great labour project" to engage
the long-term unemployed, with industry and Government working
together to expand workforce participation. Ensuring citizens
benefit from the mining boom will help to allay fears about "the
Asian Century" potentially taking local jobs, he said.
Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills,
Science and Information Technology, Recreation and Sport, Tom
Kenyon said the SA Government will focus on re-skilling
long-term unemployed workers and disengaged young people to meet
the needs of the emerging mining boom and advanced
Mr Kenyon said that the State's historically low unemployment
figure of five per cent glosses over "those left behind" - the
40,000 unemployed and another 250,000 people not participating in
"Without this five per cent in the workforce we can't continue
to advance and prosper," he said.
Programs are being funded to re-engage the disengaged workforce
including a $194 million scheme to make some literacy and numeracy,
foundation and TAFE courses free, and a program to subsidise
between 50-90 per cent of the cost of workforce training courses
Holden, Executive Director Manufacturing, Richard
Phillips said South Australia's manufacturing industry is
being transformed by lean manufacturing processes. Manufacturers
need to "punch above their weight" and focus on high value added
activities that cannot be easily replicated by low wage producers
in Asia, he said.
Sage Automation, CEO, Adrian Fahey said that in
today's competitive environment it is important for manufacturers
to be innovative, to embrace change and collaborate both in
technology and knowledge.
The Mining Super Cycle
Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade,
Mineral Resources and Energy and Small Business, Tom
Koutsantonis said SA is seeing "a good old fashioned gold
rush" but in other resources.
Minerals production had increased from $2.3 billion in 2009-10
to $4.96 billion in 2010-11 and resource exploration over the past
12 months had reached $223.7 million -up 48.8 per cent to the
highest level since the Global Financial Crisis, he said.
SA is expected to gain from producing shale gas as the eastern
states switch from coal seam gas. "BP have spent $1.5 billion to
dig four holes in the Cooper Basin... if they find what they think
they are going to find, which is not a few oil and gas reserves but
a new region, I think you are going to see SA is a different
place," Mr Koutsantonis said.
Centrex Minerals, Managing Director, Jim White
said the Eyre Peninsula offers an important contribution to the
mining boom, as it has existing social infrastructure and is
connected to the electricity grid. However, the electricity grid
would need upgrading and a deep water port to be built.
China recognises that SA is an attractive place to process as
well as mine, which would broaden our skills base, he said.
Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Social
Housing, Disabilities, Youth and Volunteers, Ian Hunter
said SA must remain an affordable place to live if the "community
is to feel it is getting the benefits of the mining boom". Research
had found more equal societies almost always do better than those
with inequalities, he said.
Although average incomes have outstripped the average cost of
living over the past 20 years, many people feel they are getting
left behind, he said.
"When people feel that some people are doing it much better than
others and the burdens are not being shared across society, you
will end up with a sense that the rising burden of costs is being
shifted downwards," Mr Hunter said.
KPMG, Chairman of Partners, Con Tragakis said
housing affordability is not just a social issue, it's also a
fundamental and business issue and that governments need to work
with the community to find solutions.
Governments will need to focus on innovative ways to encourage
investment in affordable and energy efficient housing that is close
to transport and on reducing the regulatory costs of housing
development, he said.
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