MINING INDUSTRY

Mr PEDERICK: My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister update the house on the latest mineral and petroleum exploration figures and how the Marshall Liberal government is supporting the industry's recovery?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:32): Yes, it is a pleasure to answer this question from the member for Hammond. It is important that he asks these questions because the opposition doesn't ask these questions. The opposition doesn't ask about energy or mining, so I appreciate the fact that the government members take a strong interest in this.

We've seen some very positive results. The 12 year figures up to March this year for exploration expenditure in South Australia are very encouraging, especially encouraging given that our economy, the world's economy in fact, is challenged at the moment, so it's terrific to have the mining industry contributing so much. In the 12 months to March, South Australia's combined mineral and petroleum exploration expenditure increased to $214.8 million, from $194.1 million in the 12 months to March 2019.

Both the mineral ($92.1 million) and the petroleum ($122.7 million) sectors saw an increase in expenditure. The SA share of national exploration expenditure increased, so South Australia's share of the nation's share increased from 8.4 per cent in the previous quarter to 19.5 per cent, nearly 20 per cent of the nation's exploration expenditure. Some highlights include BHP's exploration of Oak Dam West, Havilah's drilling program in the Braemar region and Alliance and Marmota gold exploration in the northern Gawler Craton.

Those are very positive results and a tremendous contribution to our economy in regional and metropolitan. While, of course, the physical exploration doesn't take place in Adelaide itself, an enormous amount of data interrogation and other digital exploration takes place here too, so this industry is contributing to our entire state. But we do know that one of the impacts of the COVID-19 problem is a 60 per cent reduction in the price of oil, which has a direct influence on our economy and on future exploration.

We know that exploration will take a drop in the coming quarter, the coming months. We accept that that's going to happen. We are buoyed by the fact that we are doing better than the rest of the nation, and we intend that to continue. But, of course, we have serious plans in place. We have programs that will help support this industry, including our accelerator discovery initiative, the $10 million ADI, which in partnership with industry will contribute to new and innovative means of discovering minerals in our state.

We also have Explore SA, which is crowd-sourced open data competition to fast-track the discovery of mineral deposits in South Australia. Explore SA has attracted more than 2,000 entrants from around the world, competing for a share of quarter of a million dollars in prize money—an extraordinary response. Interestingly enough, we are finding that people from other industries, non-traditional mining industries, are very involved in this because of the technology that's being developed here in South Australia, interstate and internationally.

SA was the first state to provide fee relief for explorers. We have deferred mineral exploration licence fees and annual petroleum and geothermal licence fees due in the next six months. We are also waiving 12 months' committed expenditure for mineral explorers, providing greater flexibility for petroleum retention licences during this period as well. We are doing everything we can to support this industry, which supports our state.