Resources Minister Madeleine King today reaffirmed the crucial role the industry plays in driving the national economy towards a net zero position in a keynote speech for CCIWA’s latest “In Conversation” event.
“I am committed to ensuring the future sustainability of Australia’s resources sector,” King said.
“This Government will continue to support resources development that stacks up environmentally, socially and economically. Our resources are central to the global energy transformation required to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
“Australia is a long-term reliable energy supplier and the Australian Government is committed to being a stable and secure destination for investment.”
King cautioned, however, that the resources industry suffered from a branding problem and needed to do more to reach out to young people and women, in particular.
“The resources sector has a good story to tell, but it’s clearly not being told well enough to the wider public. The industry needs to get much smarter about the way it tells its story to Australians, particularly young Australians.
“The central importance of the sector to the Australian economy and our way of life … must be emphasised over and over again. We need to explain the role of the resources sector in achieving net zero, and that without it we will not get there.
“I invite everyone here to consider ways in which we can get that message across. We might be aware of the realities but others are not. We need to change those negative perceptions.
“We need as much public support as we can get to ensure that our resources sector attracts the necessary skills and talent and continues to bring great benefits not only to the nation, but to the world.”
The future of work
As well as improving the resource industry’s public image, the sector needs to target the skills that are in demand such as mining engineers, electricians, plumbers and mechanics while also planning for the future of work, King said.
“As the resources sector continues to develop and evolve, workers will require new sets of skills to meet industry needs, including through that transition to net zero emissions.
“We will increasingly see digital technologies playing a role in how mines run, including through further automation and remote mining operations. And they should be well placed to adapt to these new opportunities with Australia already being at the forefront of ongoing developments in minerals processing and mining equipment technology and services.”
WA gas essential
King also noted the importance of WA’s natural gas to not just export markets but also to providing stable and reliable electricity.
“Australian gas will be essential to support global efforts to transition to a net zero world,” she said.
“Natural gas and storage technologies are key to supporting the security and reliability of our electricity grid by firming up the increasing share of renewable generation in the national electricity market.
“Australia’s gas will also help our trading partners meet their own decarbonisation goals over coming decades as they move from coal to increasingly renewable generation.
“While we must decarbonise to meet the global challenge of arresting climate change, we cannot transition from fossil fuels overnight. Gas will remain an essential part of our energy mix and that of our region for some years to come.”
Critical minerals are the future
The development of our critical minerals industry is a key to achieving global Paris goals, King pointed out, and low-emission technologies will need to be adopted across all sectors of the world’s economies.
“Critical minerals are the foundation for most, if not all, of these technologies, including electric vehicles, batteries, solar hydrogen, electrolysers, and the computer processes we need to run more efficient energy networks.
“Our challenge is to scale up supply of the minerals the world needs to make these technologies. That’s where the world’s leading experience and expertise of this sector and those in this room will play a prominent role.”
Australia’s resources sector is so huge that it’s essential to the world’s clean energy transformation — and that represents both an extraordinary opportunity and a remarkable responsibility, King continued.
“Our nation is endowed with an abundance of critical minerals. Australia produces about half of the world’s lithium, is the third-largest producer of cobalt and the fourth-largest producer of rare earths.
“Australia can be a clean energy superpower and unlocking the full potential of our critical minerals endowment is a core part of that. This is among the most valuable contributions we can make to achieve the global Paris goals.
“Developing our critical minerals will also drive domestic economic growth through creating regional jobs building domestic industries and strengthening international partnerships.”
CCIWA’s next breakfast event will be with Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Thursday, November 3. Reserve your ticket now.