Is This Top 10 Mining Destination Turning Negative For Investment?

Australia’s southern state of Victoria took a big step to support mining exploration this week. Handing out A$1.2 million in grants to support exploration and development at five projects across the region.

But in one of Australia’s most critical mining regions, things look less positive. With the local government making several moves that could render projects here more difficult.

That’s the state of Queensland. Which is currently ranked by the Fraser Institute as a top-ten destination for mining investment worldwide.

Queensland’s minister of environment and heritage protection Steven Miles unveiled a series of mining regulatory reforms early this week — speaking during a visit to Rio Tinto coal mining operations in the state.

Here’s what’s going to change.

For one, Minister Miles is proposing to speed up the timeline for mine rehabilitation across Queensland. Saying that new rules will require miners to begin reclaiming ground as it becomes available during operations — as opposed to common practice, where rehabilitation begins toward the end of the mine life. 

The minister also said that ongoing rehabilitation performance would be audited and publicly reported. 

The other significant change will be enhanced requirements for financial assurances. With miners having to show more cash in the bank to guarantee expedited reclamation schedules. 

Those are big shifts. And such moves by the Queensland government appear to be having a direct effect on project activity — with one major project pulling the plug this week. Namely, a proposed $12 billion coal mining development by India’s Adani group. 

Adani told CNN on Tuesday that the company has delayed a final investment decision on the coal mega-mine. With company officials saying the decision is due to the Queensland government failing to guarantee tax breaks for the operation. 

Such tax treatment has reportedly been a contentious issue within the government. But the outcome suggests a harder line against industry has prevailed — which may mean a tougher investment climate going forward. Watch for further policy announcements from the government, and for ensuing project decisions from miners. 

Here’s to staying on top,

Dave Forest

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