Golden times ahead for WA’s miners | YahooAustralia
The gold industry says the foundations are there for the industry to double in size over the next decade, with an increased focus on exploration and a new-found discipline spreading across the sector.
That was the message at a gold industry breakfast in Perth this morning to celebrate the launch of a new book on the industry and its impact in WA.
Amid some of the best conditions for gold mining in recent memory, a panel including St Barbara chief Bob Vassie, Northern Star managing director Bill Beament, Newmont Asia Pacific chief Stephen Dumble and AngloGold Ashanti Australia senior vice president Mike Erickson agreed things were pretty good at the moment.
But they also warned that could change in an instant.
Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ controversial plans to introduce a $5 per tonne levy on WA iron ore miners was brought up constantly by the panellists as an example of how to create uncertainty for foreign investors.
The proposal to ditch the diesel fuel rebate was another issue highlighted.
Northern Star’s Bill Beament said because of gold’s strong position — and the current positive perception of Australian-based miners — pension funds had started entering the company’s register. He said it was an example of why certainty was crucial, he said.
“The stuff that is going on in WA at the moment is just disastrous,” Mr Beament said in reference to Mr Grylls’ proposal.
“Northern Star’s register is half offshore owned, pensions funds in North America starting to dip their toe in (our register). And stability is something they require to make these long-term decisions. Not making policy on the run – it’s death by a thousand cuts when we’re changing policy all the time.”
St Barbara chief Bob Vassie agreed.
“I think people underestimate how much of a bit of uncertainty in tax competitive, or changes in regulations, disrupts what investors and explorers choose to do,” Mr Vassie said.
Looking to the future, Mr Vassie said in the last 10 years, through some difficult times, the industry had doubled in size. He said the combination of increased exploration, greater discipline and new technology meant there was “no reason” why it could not happen again.
“Australia has 16 per cent of the natural reserves out there,” he said “And with pension funds coming in and that increased exploration, all the elements are there.”
Mr Beament said Northern Star spent $17 million during the last quarter — and he felt the industry was primed.
“I think we’re setting up the industry beautifully in the next four to five years,” he said “There’s a structural change out there for gold and I’m really excited for the next 12 months.”