Kolkata, Nov 5: Australia will continue to be a major supplier of mineral and energy commodities to the world as the country was undergoing a mining boom with record capital expenditures on such projects during the last two fiscals.
On the eve of the 9th International Mining and Machinery Exhibition (IMME) here, Australian Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Martin Ferguson told UNI that a record A$ 32.3 billion was involved in various mining projects in the country in 2007-08, an increase of 25 per cent over 2006-07 spending in the fields.
Mr Ferguson informed that according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), the capital expenditure on mining in 2008-09 might increase to A$ 36.5 billion as exports proposals were pouring in from different parts of the globe.
''Australia is well positioned geographically and has the resources and exploration potential to emerge as the number one supplier of mineral and energy to the world as a whole, and, in particular, to support the rapidly expanding economies of Asia,'' Mr Ferguson observed.
He said in April this year, a record 97 new mining, energy and minerals processing projects were at an advanced stage of development with a combined capital cost of almost A$ 70.5 billion.
These included 47 energy projects which would account for A$ 38.8 billion of the capital costs and 41 mining units with an aggregate cost of A$ 25.7 billion, the Minister said adding at the end of the month there were nine advanced stage mineral processing projects with a total cost of A$ 6 billion.
''Strong international demand has boosted Australia's production and exports of mineral and energy commodities to record levels and investment in new projects currently under construction will add significantly to Australia's production and export capacity in the short to medium term,'' Mr Ferguson maintained.
He also informed that a substantial number of projects were at a less advanced stage, together with a world-leading inventory of identified but undeveloped resources and highly prospective geology, provided a firm platform for future growth.
Australia is amongst the world's top six producers for 17 commodities - bauxite, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, ilmenite, iron ore, lead, lithium, manganese ore, nickel, rutile, silver, tantalum, uranium, zinc and zircon.
Glorifying the achievements of his country in other sectors, Mr Ferguson said Australia's exploration and mining success was underpinned not only by its proven mineral endowment and highly prospective geology, but by a strong legal framework and a perfect regulatory and administrative system. He said a stable and welcoming investment environment and a world class mining and other services sector was also instrumental in heightening the country's gain in different spheres.
'' These factors combine to offer investors in the Australian resources sector a safe, low-risk environment as investment opportunities are available at all stages of exploration and mining, especially in joint ventures, '' the Minister remarked.
He, however, said despite the world-class mineral inventory, the full mineral potential of many of Australia's geological terranes was yet to be realised as many had only been subjected to reconnissance exploration and even the more intensely explored terrains had commonly not been explored at depths greater than 200 metres.
''Despite the odds, the last five years have seen discovery of new gold, high-grade nickel and iron ore deposits in Western Australia and iron-oxide copper-gold deposits and a new mineral sands province in South Australia, '' Mr Ferguson said. Referring to the 9th International Mining and Machinery Exhibition (IMME) commencing here today, he said, '' IMME will offer an opportunity for the Indian mining and minerals sector to access Australian technology and expertise in this field. '' Mr Ferguson said the exhibition would showcase Australia's global leadership position in mining technology and services.
''Australia is at the forefront in developing innovative technologies for mining as over 60 per cent of the world's mines operate with Australian designed mining software and mine management systems,'' he opined.
Hailing Indo-Australian cooperation in mining and minerals sector, Mr Ferguson pointed out that India's mining and resource processing companies have already identified the benefits of Australia, both through the establishment of long-term supply contracts and direct investment in Australia's expertise, high quality deposits and competitive transportation costs.
''Together, India and Australia have put in place mechanisms to further reinforce commercial and technical linkages. and IMME, 2008, will accelerate the ongoing process,'' he maintained.