Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge

DIGGERS and Dealers chairman Barry Eldridge has used his final year leading the Kalgoorlie conference to call for bipartisan support for the local mining sector.
Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge Get in, or get out of the way: Eldridge

Barry Eldridge

Andrew Duffy

Starting the conference on a sombre note, Eldridge lead a minute of silence to acknowledge those who lost their lives on Malaysian Airlines MH17.

In particular, Eldridge acknowledged Buxton Resources managing director Anthony Maslin and the death of his three children.

Taking stock of the past 12 months, Eldridge said the new federal government had shown encouraging signs on mining policy, but there were still political roadblocks.

“We must be mindful that the ability to govern in Australia remains dependent on the whims of minority parties who have a disproportionate influence on Australia's future,” he said.

“Those narrow-minded politicians who remain committed to acting as though the resource industry is an enemy of Australia should just get out of the way and let us get on with developing our nation's resources assets for the benefit of all.”

On the policy front, Eldridge said it was encouraging to see some progress being made on cutting red and green tape for the mining industry.

Nevertheless, he said there was still much work to be done, and industry and government alike needed to focus on implementing new measures.

“My experience is that the bureaucrats will fight removal of the approval processes as hard as they can and their system is well designed to inhibit real change,” he said.

“After all, putting hurdles in the way of progress is what builds a bureaucracy and we cannot let them stop change that has been needed for the last 30 years.”

While there was still room for improvement, Eldridge said the mining industry had still seen advances over the past 12 months.

He pointed to the opening of the Tropicana gold project in Western Australia, and the iron ore expansions of Fortescue Metals Group as some of the most notable achievements.

Beadell Resources and BC Iron were also acknowledged for successfully and profitably managing their assets.

While exploration had been quieter compared to recent years, Eldridge also pointed to advances on the smaller side of the industry.

“We need an active exploration industry,” he said.

“It is high risk but it is a valid portion of our resources investment sector. Pricing reflects the risks and the rewards can be substantial.

“What I do know is that we have to have an active exploration industry, we will find and develop new resources and that is fundamentally essential to a sustainable resources industry.

“I urge investors to find funding for this sector.”

Next year well-known mining industry figure Nick Giorgetta will take over as Diggers chairman.

Giorgetta previously won the Diggers and Dealers 2009 GJ Stokes Memorial Award.

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