The approval of a new $1 billion rare earth and metals mine near Dubbo in Central West New South Wales (NSW) is great news for the region, the state and national economies as well as the NSW minerals sector, says Australia’s resource industry employer group, AMMA.

The group’s executive director for policy and public affairs Scott Barklamb says, “AMMA welcomes NSW granting an environment protection licence to Alkane Resources in what was the final regulatory hurdle after a decade-long process for the Dubbo Zirconia Project.

“Following construction which will create 450 jobs, this project will produce 30,000 tonnes of rare metals and rare earths annually and employ more than 250 production personnel for at least 20 years.

“The announcement is fantastic news for the resource industry in NSW and shows that even during tough economic conditions, the resource sector is resilient and can attract investment into exciting, job-creating new projects.”

The new zirconia project also demonstrates opportunities for Australia’s resource sector to diversify its markets beyond the traditional stables of iron ore and LNG.

“The zirconium, hafnium, niobium and rare earth exports are sure to attract long-term demand, as these commodities are increasingly used in the high technology applications of today and tomorrow,” Scott Barklamb continues.

“Resource exports are critical to things like computers, tablets, smartphones, rechargeable batteries, hybrid and electric cars, and pipelines.

“Not only will this project drive long-term employment and state income, it will also help diversify and strengthen our national resources industry as we pursue new global demand for commodities beyond our established iron ore and LNG powerhouses.”

Australian Federal Government data shows a further 22 major resources and energy projects waiting to get the green light in NSW.

With more than 150 projects with a conservative combined value of $160 billion being lost to Australia over the past two years, AMMA encourages NSW and all state governments to continue working with resource employers to further deliver sustainable new long term economic and job opportunities.