Tasmania is extremely rich in minerals. The State exports ores and concentrates of iron, copper, lead, zinc, tin, high-grade silica and tungsten. The total value of mining and metallurgical production in Tasmania was estimated as $2393 million in 2009/2010. The mineral extraction and processing sector is Tasmania's largest export industry, accounting for 50.0% of mercantile exports in 2009/2010 worth $1.593 billion.
There are seven substantial operating mines in Tasmania, including long-term producers Mount Lyell (copper, gold, silver), Rosebery (zinc, lead, gold, copper, silver) and Savage River (magnetite, which is converted into iron ore pellets at Port Latta). The Henty and Beaconsfield gold mines began producing in the 1990s while the Renison and Mt Bischoff tin mines reopened during 2008.
Historically, Tasmania has produced gold valued at around $1 billion in today's values. A geological data package (NETGOLD), compiled for the North East part of Tasmania and put together by Mineral Resources Tasmania, has revived interest in the exploration for gold in the State, and resulted in most of the prospective ground in the northeast being taken up as exploration licences.
Over the past decade, the Tasmanian and Australian governments have invested over $16 million in developing new geophysical and geological information, 1:25 000 scale digital geological maps over Tasmania's most mineralised regions, and a world-first 3-D geological model and prospectivity analysis of the entire State. The 3-D model involved a unique partnership between government and the mining industry, with mine-scale resource information supplied by the private sector integrated with MRT's regional geological information.
In 2006/2007, the Tasmanian Government initiated the TasExplore Project, a four-year, $5.06 million program of geoscientific data acquisition and promotion. This will include a new 200 metre line spaced aeromagnetic and radiometric survey over the prospective parts of northeast Tasmania and the Furneaux Group and updating of the geology of central northern Tasmania, northeast Tasmania and King Island. The 3-D model will be updated in the latter stages of the TasExplore Project.
Tasmania has competitive natural advantages for major companies seeking sound and rewarding investments in a number of fields, but particularly in the resource development areas.
The State is rich in natural resources, including minerals and forests. Its topography and geographic location have been ideal for harnessing massive reserves of water for hydro-electric generation.
Tasmania's economy has long been based on the extraction and processing of its resources, utilising significant electricity generating capacity.
The Tasmanian Government is committed to the delivery of infrastructure and investment conditions to encourage industry to take up opportunities for further multiple-stage processing of resources within the State. The further processing of minerals alone could add A$2,000 million to Tasmania's mineral export contribution.
The Tasmanian Government's industry development strategy aims to create optimum conditions for such investments to take place.
A crucial element in the conditions that enable investment to flourish is an environment which allows the achievement of sustainable economic and development goals. Micro-economic reform, the clear establishment of development priorities, and the streamlining of approval processes are important facets of the industry development strategy which contribute to the establishment of such an environment.
Additionally, it is considered most unlikely that a native title claim could succeed in the State. The Tasmanian Government has established a highly praised and accepted policy of reconciliation with the Aboriginal community, which with the passage of the Aboriginal Lands Act 1995, has included the granting of small parcels of land of immediate cultural significance as freehold.
In addition to encouraging exploration and mining of its mineral resources, Tasmania is keen to further develop the value-added processing component of its resource-based industries. Industries attracted to Tasmania will be internationally competitive and have a long-term perspective, committed to both sustainable growth and community prosperity. They will invest in projects with the latest technologies for maximising productivity and environmental control.
There is a variety of opportunities to further process minerals. Tasmania offers a sustainable cost advantage for many processing industries and has competitively priced real estate and a stable and skilled workforce, which provides significant benefits through lower employment turnover and lower on-costs, including training costs.