House of Assembly - Thursday, 15 September 2011, Page 5026
MINING EXPLORATION, EYRE PENINSULA

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:34): I would like to talk today and bring the house up to date on something that has been taking up a good deal of my time of late, and that is the mining exploration activity that is going on on the Eyre Peninsula and in the seat of Flinders. The Eyre Peninsula is part of the broader Gawler Craton, which really became famous some 50 years or so ago when, as the Speaker would be well aware, iron ore was discovered just west of Whyalla, and significant deposits they were. But, really, not much more mining activity has gone on on the Eyre Peninsula since then. There is certainly a gypsum mine at Penong and salt is also mined at Penong. They are ongoing mining ventures and will continue for a long time yet.

In recent times we have seen Iluka begin their sand mine north-west of Ceduna and they are exporting mineral sands out of Thevenard. The gypsum and salt that I mentioned earlier also goes out of Thevenard. Thevenard, with two good grain harvests and another one about to occur, is under significant pressure as a deep-sea port. We are investigating and exploring all opportunities as to how we might upgrade that facility.

There is a kaolin deposit at Poochera, inland from Streaky Bay. There is a significant graphite deposit that has just been announced at Darke Peak, on central-eastern Eyre Peninsula. There are traces of copper, gold and uranium, but the significant mineral deposit on the Eyre Peninsula is iron ore.

The estimates are being raised all the time. Some time ago, I heard that the estimate was between two and three billion tonnes of iron ore. It seems that now it could be anything up to 10 billion tonnes of iron ore on Eyre Peninsula. So, there are significant deposits and Eyre Peninsula has the opportunity to become a mining province here in South Australia. The iron ore is both hematite and magnetite. There are relatively small deposits of hematite; larger deposits of magnetite.

Obviously, a lot of these companies are at the exploration stage only. Ultimately, if the deposit is economically viable, it will be mined but we have not seen any of the more recent exploration companies reach that stage yet.

There will be some benefits to the local community. There will be infrastructure such as roads, power supply, possibly an upgrade to the railways or even new railway development and, certainly, a new port development is also on the cards on the east coast of Eyre Peninsula, in between Port Neill and Tumby Bay.

There will be increased jobs for the local community but there will also be some challenges. There will be those who see threats to their lifestyle. There will be those who see threats to their local community and how that community functions. Certainly, there will be some changes to that, but it is all about finding the balance in this new era, I guess.

I have long said that we have two basic industries on the Eyre Peninsula: we have agriculture and we have seafood. All of the other services that exist on Eyre Peninsula are as a result of these two industries and mining, I think, gives the opportunity to add a third tier to that local and regional economy.

It is an interesting time because we are seeing the mining industry move into the agricultural lands of South Australia. It has not been the case in the past very much. Mostly, the mining efforts have been north, in the pastoral lands. It brings a whole new set of problems, particularly in these days of rising world populations and increasing demands on our producers.

The Mining Act, through its intent, allows for mining and enables mining. That requires then the need for mining companies to negotiate with landowners. These negotiations are not always easy and, at a number of local community meetings that I have attended in the last few weeks, I have encouraged people always to get good legal advice to assist with those negotiations. It should be possible for landowners who are immediately affected by mining operations to be appropriately compensated.

None of these mining companies have actually started mining yet. So, they are still in the exploratory stage. Recent meetings have included the Chamber of Mines and Energy, the South Australian Farmers Federation, PIRSA—it is important that they are there because they are the regulator of the Mining Act—and the Eyre Peninsula Mining Alliance. Generally, they have been good meetings and we look forward to what should be some exciting years ahead.