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Gloves off: Palaszczuk decides to drag mining sector into a new age

Insights

The State Government has announced a dramatic shake up of the mining industry that will include it becoming a hands-on player in diversifying the industry and sparking new processing and manufacturing. 

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It released a draft resource industry development plan Wednesday that will shake the industry up and signal its intent to get Queensland to the front of the queue in the development of mines that will serve the massive demand for new economy minerals.

The new direction opens it up to criticism of picking winners and funding the mining industry, but the Government has clearly become frustrated with the lack of action by the sector in developing critical minerals which are considered necessary for the new industries emerging in technology areas like renewable energy and electric vehicles.

The decision on Tuesday to fund a vanadium processing centre was more profound than the $10 to $15 million the Government has allocated. In approving the plant, it forced the Government to ask itself if it was serious about doing anything more than just subsidising industry and fixing market failures.

So now it is going to step in and become a significant player in sparking new industry. The vanadium processing plant is likely to be a taste of what it has in mind.

A key is what are known as critical minerals, which are considered to be key in decarbonising the world.

Significantly, the plan does nothing to impact coal and gas because the market will dictate what happens there. The plan is essentially diversifying the sector and spelling out how shared infrastructure will work.

Rightly or wrongly, it has also come to the conclusion that if it’s to have any impact on climate change it won’t be through closing down the coal and gas sectors, which would have severe economic, political and social consequences. Instead, it sees the state’s role will be in developing the minerals needed to electrify industries.

And significantly, it will restructure mining approvals and call on the Law Reform Commission to fix the mess of environmental approvals which is likely to mean a restructure of the Land Court to end debacles like the Acland mine approval process that has taken more than a decade.

 

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