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Tuesday, 23 September 1997
Page: 6712

Senator EGGLESTON —Madam President, I have a question for the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Parer. Could the Minister inform the Senate of any new resource developments in Western Australia which will benefit not only the Western Australian but also the national economy?

Senator PARER —I would like to thank Senator Eggleston very much for that question. I am absolutely delighted, Madam President, to advise the Senate of two major projects in Western Australia. The first of those is the Rio Tinto development at Yandicoogina in Western Australia, which will represent a $705 million investment and which is expected to come on stream in mid-1999, less than two years away. This iron ore mine will initially commence production at five million tonnes per annum and, depending on market demand, will increase to 15 million tonnes.

It is worth pointing out that during construction of that mine—the ore treatment plant and transport infrastructure—the work force will peak at around 800 people. The permanent mine work force, direct and indirect, is expected to be in the order of 600 real jobs.

As regards the second one, the Asia-Pacific region provides growing opportunities for partnerships in the Australian iron ore and minerals industry. China Steel recently announced its expansion of an integrated steel output and a large scale integrated steel project being progressed toward development by the Yieh Loong group. In fact, later this week I am to meet the president of Yieh Loong who is visiting Australia.

We are witnessing a number of new partnerships. Probably the most interesting of all is the merger of An-Feng Kingstream—Kingstream being an Australian operation, I might say, run by Mr Ken Court. An-Feng is the Taiwan company involved. They have created an integrated national steel producer with net assets of more than $A1 billion, paving the way for a project to develop a $1.4 billion steel mill near Geraldton in Western Australia.

This mill aims to produce steel slab to feed the requirements of An-Feng's Taiwan steel rolling mills, generating exports of over $A750 million per annum by the year 2001. More importantly, the mill will provide for a massive employment generator with the work force hitting a construction peak of around 2,000 and a permanent work force of 900. This translates into indirect employment of around 3,500 real jobs.

Madam President, this project is strongly supported by the West Australian and federal governments. It has received the focused attention of Bob Mannsfield, major project facilitator in the Prime Minister's office. The department of industry has given it major project status, and the project facilitation unit in the Department of Primary Industries and Energy has given it its undivided attention. I met the chairman of An-Feng, Madam Wu, earlier this year and again more recently on a private visit to Taiwan.

Madam President, these two projects testify to the private sector's faith in the Howard government as a sound regime in which to invest. With the government's major project facilitation unit, low interest rates, a favourable investment climate and the active pursuit of greater markets for Australia, the resource sector and the downstream processing—

Senator Schacht —Are the words underlined now, are they? You are reading a bit more loudly.

Senator PARER —Senator, you should be supporting the downstream processing that comes with An-Feng Kingstream. This will lead to a proliferation of small business, the growth of regional development and more real jobs for Australia. (Time expired)