Mining in Australia: Incentives and Initiatives
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Where does mining in Australia happen? Certain states and territories offer government-funded incentives that may help investors determine the most mining-friendly jurisdictions.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest mining hotspots, and that’s partially because the country’s government has given mining companies a good reason to explore down under: incentives.

While these incentives vary between the eight different Australian states and territories, they all help make the mining process easier and more beneficial for everyone involved. Companies are able to profit, and the government finds a strengthening economy.

For investors curious about what each area offers to mining companies, check out our list of Australia’s various incentives by state and territory.


Mining in Australia: Western Australia

Home to key mining regions such as the Pilbara, Western Australia (WA) has drawn in major mining companies from around the world like Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) and BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP). As Australia’s largest state, WA has shown its strength on the mining front with plentiful resources and widespread exploration.

One of WA’s government initiatives is its Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS), which aims to encourage exploration in WA to help stimulate and sustain the resource sector. The EIS consists of five different programs: exploration drilling, geophysical surveys, encouraging exploration through cover, 3D prospectivity mapping and promoting strategic research with industry.

While each component provides its own benefits, the exploration drilling program is considered a flagship of the EIS as it offers up to a 50 percent refund for innovative exploration drilling projects. Open for applications twice a year, costs are capped at AU$150,000 for general multi-hole applications, at AU$200,000 for a single deep-hole application and at AU$30,000 for a prospector application.

Mining in Australia: Tasmania

While Tasmania’s government puts a great deal of support into its agricultural and renewable energy sectors, the state has also directed resources towards its mining industry.

One of the island state’s initiatives is the Geoscience Initiative, a AU$1.4 million program spread out over four years. The initiative is intended to deliver new pre-competitive geoscience data and to improve the accuracy and completeness of historic geoscience data. In 2021, the re-elected Liberal government in Tasmania pledged to refresh this program with AU$2 million, and the Australian government’s Exploring for the Future Program is expected to bolster that funding up to AU$3 million.

The government also offers the AU$2 million Exploration Drilling Grant Incentive, which is set to run from 2018 to 2022 with the intention of increasing greenfield exploration in Tasmania through co-funding to applicants. The program may be extended for another four years depending on the level of uptake in the current round.

Mining in Australia: Victoria

One of the most heavily populated parts of Australia, Victoria offers a number of different initiatives and programs focused around the mining sector and energy technology.

The AU$15 million TARGET Minerals Exploration Initiative is one of Victoria’s main resource initiatives, designed to increase investment in exploration for gold, copper and other base metals. While it excludes exploration for coal, oil and gas — some of Australia’s biggest exports — it includes grants for companies to conduct co-funded mineral exploration programs. Grants from the initiative cover up to half the cost of eligible exploration activities, such as geophysical surveys and drilling and sampling analysis.

Additionally, Victoria’s government has a Low-emission Coal Program, which helps companies find innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprints. An example includes a AU$2 million contribution to Nippon Steel Engineering from Regional Development Victoria, meant to help the company investigate the feasibility of technology able to convert lignite (brown coal) into a natural gas substitute.

Mining in Australia: South Australia

South Australia’s (SA) government invests in what it refers to as “innovative initiatives” with the intent of bringing significant economic benefits to the state.

One of SA’s most prominent initiatives is its Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) Copper, a AU$20 million investment intended to lead the transformation of SA’s mineral exploration industry over the next two years. While PACE was originally launched in 2004 as a AU$22.5 million five year initiative, the program’s immediate success led to several extensions and additional funding. PACE supports innovative and collaborative geoscience projects, and the capture and interpretation of geophysical pre-competitive data sets, along with other factors.

With regard to PACE’s most recent focus on copper, the work program is meant to deliver new data and information for exploration on the Gawler Craton, a 440,000 square kilometer crystalline basement located in SA. PACE Copper is referred to as the critical upstream component of SA’s copper strategy, which is meant to triple the state’s annual copper production and help it hit a production target of 1 million tonnes a year by 2030.

Mining in Australia: Queensland

Home to marvels like the Great Barrier Reef and an almost 7,000 kilometer coastline, Northeastern Queensland also hosts several different mineral resources.

While some of Queensland’s initiatives are more generalised, such as tenure reforms and a resource roundtable, others are more proactive, such as the Strategic Resources Exploration Program (SREP). Through the program, the government is set to invest AU$27.125 million over four years to boost exploration and support for resource development projects.

The funding is divided up and implemented into different initiatives, such as AU$3.6 million going towards gas exploration in the Georgina, South Nicolson and Isa super basins, and AU$4.275 million for mineral geophysics to help locate new mineral prospects over wide areas.

SREP is meant to also support the Strategic Blueprint for Queensland’s North West Minerals Province, a AU$39 million (over four years) strategy to further develop the northwestern part of Queensland. The blueprint has three major priorities, which consist of facilitating continued resource sector development, diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities and working with businesses and the community to deliver integrated services.

Also available is the Collaborative Exploration Initiative, a AU$3.6 million program that provides industry grants to help encourage investment in underexplored areas and support innovative exploration techniques.

Mining in Australia: Northern Territory

Known for housing Australia’s world-renowned Outback desert, the Northern Territory (NT) spans over 1.4 million kilometers and is ripe with mining and resource opportunities.

The NT government recently launched the Resourcing the Territory initiative, a AU$26 million four year game plan designed to underpin the long-term sustainability of the territory’s resource sector. The initiative, which provides pre-competitive geoscience, investment attraction and exploration stimulus programs, replaces the previous AU$23.8 million Creating Opportunities for Resource Exploration initiative, which ran from 2014 to 2018.

Under the Resourcing the Territory initiative fall several programs with different purposes, such as the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations Program, meant to increase exploration drilling and geophysical data in greenfields areas through co-funding assistance.

Mining in Australia: New South Wales

Playing host to national hotspots like Sydney, Newcastle and Harbor Bridge, New South Wales’ (NSW) presence on the eastern coast also plays a big part in the mining and resource sector.

According to the NSW Department of Industry, the state government has allocated over AU$95 million to exploration initiatives in recent years. One example is the New Frontiers Exploration Initiative (NFEI), designed to provide significant stimulus to future exploration for mineral and petroleum resources. Launched in 2006, the initiative has been funded by annual rental fees since 2012, with projects under NFEI helping cover areas such as pre-competitive geophysical surveys and frontier geoscientific mapping.

There is also the New Frontiers Cooperative Drilling program, which provides grants for exploration drilling programs that demonstrate strong prospectivity, good financial planning and a proven technical base. From 2014 to 2021, the program delivered three rounds of grants that funded anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of drilling meter-rate costs, with a maximum of AU$200,000 awarded per project.

Mining in Australia: Australian Capital Territory

As its name might suggest, Australian Capital Territory is a small territory spanning just less than 2,400 square kilometers between Sydney and Melbourne; it houses Canberra, the country’s capital.

Due to the territory’s size and proximity to other states like New South Wales and Victoria, there are no mining and resource initiatives available at this time.

Mining in Australia: Federal incentives

While almost every state and territory has designated incentives, there are also some available through the federal Australian government that apply to the entire country.

Formerly known as the Exploration Development Incentive, the federal government introduced the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive in March 2018. The incentive was created to encourage investment in small mineral exploration companies, and allows eligible companies to generate tax credits by giving up a portion of their losses from greenfields mineral exploration expenditure. Following that, the tax credits can be distributed to investors who buy newly issued shares during a certain period. Exploration credits are capped at a total of AU$100 million over a four year period. Australia’s federal government announced in May 2021 that it would extend the program for four more years.

Australia also has an Industry Growth Centres Initiative that consists of six areas: advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, food and agribusiness, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment, technology and services and oil, gas and energy resources. Each growth centre is a not-for-profit organization with its own Sector Competitiveness Plan, entailing a 10 year strategy for the sector, identified regulatory reform opportunities and industry knowledge priorities like skills and research requirements. The centres have access to AU$63 million in funding to develop collaborative projects that help capability and competitiveness within each sector.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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