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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 8025


Ms PRICE (DurackAssistant Minister for the Environment) (16:15): I am proudly here today to talk about the growth of our mining industry, growth made possible by the policies of this government. For decades the resources industry has powered Australia's economy. As a Western Australian born and raised in the Goldfields, I am always very proud of the contribution of the sector. Now as the member for Durack I represent the major mining communities of Western Australia, people who understand how important strong economic policy is to the future of their own community.

The north-west of WA is renowned for the huge volume of iron ore shipped out of the Pilbara every year, but we're now seeing rapid growth in a number of other commodities, and the Turnbull government is supporting the development of these emerging commodities. That's why the coalition has approved a $19 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to boost lithium exports from the Pilbara. This loan will allow Pilbara Minerals Ltd to upgrade a 70-kilometre long public road to its Pilgangoora mine, one of the largest lithium ore deposits in the world. A new road will make transporting lithium safer and far more efficient by improving travel times from the mine to the port. Governments should be backing lithium. Australia has tripled production in recent years to become the world's largest exporter of the mineral. Global demand for the resource is growing, as lithium is critical to the production of batteries, phones and laptops. More importantly, if we are serious about changing the composition of our energy mix over time, lithium has a huge role to play. It's a cornerstone of energy storage, and increasing global demand reflects its importance.

Lithium is not the only commodity that is in the headlines in my electorate. Further north in the Kimberley Sheffield Resources Ltd is progressing well and developing one of the largest mineral sand deposits discovered in the last 30 years. Sheffield's Thunderbird project, based near Derby, is set to enter production in 2020. Pending federal environmental approval, this mine will create nearly 300 jobs in the region and, importantly, continue to diversify Western Australia's mining sector. Thunderbird is rich in zircon, a mineral used to manufacture many products, such as ceramics and tiles. It's projects like those that deliver jobs and prosperity for the people of the Kimberley.

I would like to put on record that I commend Sheffield Resources for this fantastic project. I congratulate them for the progress they have made to date, for the development of this project and for giving great hope to the potential workforce, many of whom are Aboriginal and living in the Derby region, which is an area that is desperate for new jobs. Only the Turnbull government will create the investment certainty that these projects need in order to get off the ground. More importantly, it's allowing mining companies in my electorate to grow, thrive and create jobs for Australians. (Time expired)