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Speech to the Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition


23 September 2020

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

Obviously this is one of those events that we’d all prefer to attend in person, face-to-face, but I’m glad we still get this chance to discuss issue and share ideas, albeit virtually.

I’m always happy to speak to stakeholders and colleagues about Australia’s resources sector.

The sector has long been a cornerstone of our economy.

The resources sector contributes up to 60 per cent of Australia’s goods and services exports, and directly accounted for 25 per cent of Australia’s GDP growth in the 2020 March quarter.

Australia has a hard-earned reputation as a responsible, competitive and reliable supplier of resource and energy commodities.

We have been consistently exporting a range of resources to key partners in our region for many decades.

We have extensive reserves of resources, and lead the market in mining equipment, technology and services. 

When you look at the facts and figures, they are impressive.

In 2019–20, Australian resources and energy exports reached a record $287 billion.

Our top five resources and energy export destinations in 2018-19 were:

  • China, worth $111 billion
  • Japan, worth $51 billion
  • South Korea, worth $22 billion
  • Taiwan, worth $17 billion, and
  • India, worth $14 billion.

Australia’s top resource exports in 2019-20 were iron ore, LNG, metallurgical coal, gold and thermal coal.

We are the largest iron ore producer in the world.

We are one of the biggest LNG exporters in the world.

We are the biggest metallurgical coal exporter in the world.

Gold exports reached a record of $24 billion in 2019-20.

And we are the second largest thermal coal exporter in the world.

This year, with the spotlight on our economy more than ever before, resources has continued to be a shining light.

The sector has a reputation for supporting our economy through challenging global economic conditions – and 2020 has been no different. 

Resources have shown incredible resilience during COVID-19 and they are well positioned to lead the recovery.

Here in Queensland, the importance of the sector is stark.

The state has long played a crucial role in Australia’s overall resources story.

An expert panel will very shortly discuss the industry in Queensland and the various things that are being done to ensure it remains relevant and valuable.

Queensland’s large and productive coal sector, of which the state should be very proud, will no doubt feature prominently in these discussions.

In 2018-19, the Queensland coal sector contributed $4.3 billion in royalties to the Queensland State Budget.

During this period, the sector directly provided $3.8 billion in wages paid to 34,667 full time jobs.

We know the enormous Galilee Basin has the potential to bring billions of dollars of investment to, and create thousands of jobs in, Central and Northern Queensland.

The Adani Carmichael mine, of course, is $2 billion project expected to produce 10 to 15 million tonnes per annum of coal.

Crucially, there are more than 700 people currently working on the mine and rail project.

We are always on the search new areas of potential resources wealth.

Our Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program uses cutting-edge techniques to collect scientific data and information about prospective mineral, energy and groundwater systems – on the surface and deep underground.

So far it has mapped about 40 per cent of the continent – or 3 million square kilometres – to reveal new resources potential.

In June I announced a further $125 million investment in this program. 

The next stage has identified two prospective corridors for further detailed analysis.

The first corridor straddles the Queensland-Northern Territory border, starting at the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria and running through Mount Isa.

The second corridor straddles the Western Australian-Northern Territory border.

Both corridors are highly prospective for minerals – including critical minerals, energy resources and groundwater.

In its first four years, the EFTF program spent over $69M on activities in regional and remote Australia, including $9M in Queensland.

And in 2018, largely because of data many of them were able to acquire via the EFTF initiative, 14 resource companies had applied for exploration tenements in Queensland and the Northern  Territory.

The Government’s Growth Centre for the Mining Equipment, Technologies and Services sector, METS Ignited, works with industry to strengthen Australia’s METS as an innovative and leading technology industry.

METS Ignited has a strong presence in Queensland and has a strong partnership with the Queensland Government and Queensland companies.

The Queensland METS Collaborative Projects Fund, for instance, supports collaboration between Queensland METS companies, global suppliers, mine operators, research organisations and capital providers.

It’s been a challenging six months but I want to reinforce how proud I am of the sector here in Queensland for the role it has played – and continues to play – in contributing to the economy and our future.

I’ll make way for the panel now who will discuss the role of resources in this state in depth.

Thank you again for this opportunity and all the best for the rest of the program.