Strong mining sector sets pace for growth

Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP
Minister for Energy and Mining, South Australia

1 December 2023.


South Australia’s mining sector was the main driver of the state’s robust economic growth in the 2022-2023 financial year, contributing more than $6 billion in the 12-month period.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the mining sector’s gross value added was up 13.9 per cent to $6.17 billion.

ABS figures also showed South Australia’s gross state product increased by 3.8 per cent in real terms in 2022-23, exceeding the national growth rate of 3.0 per cent.

The results are attributed to significant increases in mining production volumes, including copper. Copper is now considered a global necessity, essential to the electrification needed to drive the energy transition.

The South Australian Government has declared copper to be a critical mineral and established a Copper Taskforce, fortifying South Australia’s place at the forefront of copper exploration.

The strong mining performance was also underpinned by significant increases in output from our uranium, gold and iron ore miners.

The ABS last month released figures showing South Australia leading the way as Australian exports recover from a Covid-driven downturn. In the 12 months to September 2023, South Australia recorded the largest percentage increase in value of overseas goods of all states and territories, at 14 per cent.

It comes as a new drilling campaign as part of the MinEx Cooperative Research Centre National Drilling Initiative in the northern Gawler Craton area is announced by the Geological Survey of South Australia, the body which collects, manages and delivers information and knowledge of South Australia’s geology for its mineral resources prospectivity.

The National Drilling Initiative – or NDI – is a collaboration between the Commonwealth and State Governments to implement geoscience programs that use innovative techniques to gather new scientific data and information about the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources concealed beneath the surface.

This is an opportunity to increase exploration investment, potentially leading to new mineral discoveries in the state.

The first drilling campaign of the NDI program – the Delamerian drilling campaign – was completed earlier this year, with 23 drill holes completed and data analysed by our experts prior to being published and made freely available to industry. This led to the release of tenement acreage to the exploration industry through a competitive bid process in mid-2023 with successful applicants now primed to explore areas previously left unexplored for decades.

This second drilling program is seeking the same outcomes – to deliver new, timely and previously-missing data from our state’s geological database to drive new exploration programs and mineral discoveries.

The northern Gawler Craton area is an underexplored terrain with geological similarities to highly-prospective mineral provinces, including the Olympic Copper-Gold Province – which hosts Olympic Dam, Carrapateena and Prominent Hill Copper mines – and parts of northern Australia that host world-class mines such as Ernest Henry and Mt Isa.

Further bolstering our credentials in this sector, the Geological Survey is also announcing the release of its new critical mineral dashboards – interactive maps enabling exploration and mining companies to access and interact with our extensive geological database in new and easier ways.


Quotes attributable to Tom Koutsantonis:

We cannot understate the value of our Geological Survey and its precompetitive data programs in stimulating industry activity and enhancing exploration activity in the state.

If we haven’t achieved it already, we are well on our way to having the best geological survey in the country, if not the world.

But we don’t have to make these claims for ourselves – it’s clear from the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, which show our mining sector is underpinning growth across the economy, while supporting the technology that will make the economy more sustainable.

Mining contributed $963 million – around 35 per cent of South Australia’s total capital expenditure – in the September 2023 quarter. In current price terms, this is the highest South Australian quarterly mining capital expenditure recorded by the ABS since 1989.

It’s important we continue to support the sector, and we are showing we can do that in a variety of ways – including providing contemporary precompetitive data that can drive new exploration programs and mineral discoveries.

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