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Change in store for the minerals industry

The Australian minerals industry is experiencing a number of significant changes that will have broad ramifications for the resources sector and for Australia.

These include consolidation of ownership of Australian mining interests, an increasing number of global mining companies operating in Australia and increasingly global approaches to many issues.

Change was swift during 2001, but progress is ongoing. 2002 will still see much corporate activity, as companies prepare to deal with the rigours of cyclical economic times and the exigencies of commodity markets.

Whatever the outcome, the Australian minerals sector has a large role to play in Australia’s future prosperity and is increasingly prepared

to do it in a manner that is attuned to the community’s expectations of modern corporations.

With a new Federal Parliament in place, there is scope for the minerals industry to influence policy and seek outcomes that secure a competitive framework for investment in the sector in Australia.

This period of political renewal provides the minerals industry and its representative bodies with an opportunity to forge lasting relationships with new ministers, departmental heads, ministerial staff and other stakeholders.

2002 promises many challenges for the minerals industry. On the domestic front, we will see ongoing taxation reform implementation, consideration of an Australian response to the Kyoto Protocol, another round of discussions on the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme and further debate on energy policy and reform to the regulatory frameworks.

We will also see continued development of approaches to integrate social and community issues into the way we operate. Sustainable development as an overarching framework has a lot to offer the industry. We are already leaders in many aspects, but the business case of sustainable development needs to be more clearly understood.

Internationally, we have uncertain economic times that cast a shadow over world commodity markets. The minerals industry faces significant challenges from external stakeholders that encourage change in the way it operates.

The industry is responding demonstrably to take control of its future. The creation of the International Council on Mining and Metals heralds a new era in international cooperation for the world’s mining and metals industries. ICMM has a broad mandate to focus principally on providing sustainable development leadership

for the industry.

Under ICMM, the leadership challenge for the Minerals Council and industry bodies is to work collaboratively to help the sector adjust to the sustainable development expectations of consumers, public authorities and society in general.

Undoubtedly, tools of international governance are increasingly being proposed to deal with issues of broad concern. An example of this has been the development of an international code on the use and management of cyanide. Others are in prospect and it is important that the industry has a credible, well-researched basis upon which to participate and, in many cases, lead.

The minerals and metals industries have a significant role to play in influencing the frameworks within which they operate so that they can continue to generate wealth in a way that is acceptable in modern society.

To define that role, the global industry is undertaking the Mining, Metals and Sustainable Development project. This project is evaluating the industry’s performance on sustainability and seeking ways to move business forward that are more inclusive, more welcoming of change and committed to improving industry performance in accord with the broader community.

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