Copper Mining

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister update the house on opportunities in copper and on the potential importance of the Gawler Craton?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:52): I thank the member for Hammond for his question.

Mr Koutsantonis interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens is warned.

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The member for Hammond grew up on his family farm and still owns his family farm, and he is a very proud farmer. I appreciate him asking me this question.

Last year, our exports from South Australia from our mineral and petroleum products was $5.2 billion, and $2 billion of that was from copper. So copper is an incredibly important commodity for us in South Australia. Last year, we exported over 260,000 tonnes of copper. The production and export of that copper goes directly to our state's economy in a very positive way and our state government, as long as it is done responsibly with regard to people and the environment and done in an overwhelmingly welcoming community, is extremely supportive of our resources sector. We want our resources sector to flourish.

Importantly, there is forecast to be a worldwide supply deficit of copper through the 2020s which, under most circumstances, would mean that prices go up; under most circumstances, that means this industry becomes even more important and beneficial for our state. Couple that with the fact that demand from new markets is expected to grow as well. So, along with the copper sales comes the opportunity to sell other products into new markets, which is also very important.

What is the South Australian government doing to support copper in this state? Well, very pleasingly, yesterday at a South Australian resources investment conference I was able to announce results with regard to the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey and the work done jointly between the South Australian Geological Survey and the CSIRO.

They have done some fantastic work, and it has been going over several years and will continue for many more years. The work that they are doing is taking airborne survey results and interrogating them in great detail to be able to share publicly with the resources, exploration and investment sectors information about the depth of the resources below the earth's surface. Why is that important? Because it helps exploration.

We already know that there is an enormous amount of wealth being generated in the Gawler Craton and we also know that there is much more to be discovered, but we need to stretch those exploration dollars. We need those exploration dollars to be as efficient as possible so that when our government is able to release this sort of information it does exactly that: it stretches those exploration dollars. So not only are we looking at whereabouts on the surface or below the surface might there be resources but also now we are getting information about how deep below the surface, and that's a very important thing to be able to share.

The airborne survey covers 295,000 square kilometres once complete, with over 1.6 million line kilometres of new data to be made available—the first of 16 packages of data is now made available, and much more to come. This is a fantastic initiative of the South Australian government, which will make exploration dollars go further, which will help our state's economy enormously.