Opinion Piece: Lithium discovery can be turned into a gold mine

06 July 2019

Reports of the discovery of a new lithium province in North Queensland are exciting for both the state and the country.

It's a great development for the mining sector, the manufacturing sector and, possibly, the agriculture sector.

The mining industry has been the backbone of the Australian economy for a long time.

Notwithstanding the boom-bust cycle, mining has been a major generator of jobs, a magnet for infrastructure investment and a provider of huge amounts of tax revenue.

In my own electorate in the Hunter Valley, the ABC's early-morning traffic report each day begins in the township of Singleton, where the traffic nightmare is generated by the coal-mining industry.

Like so many regions across the country, mining has brought wealth to local communities we could otherwise only have dreamt of.

We all want our country to be one which continues to make things. Too many of our mining products leave our shores without any value-add.

Yet almost everything we use each day - our white goods, mobile phones, computers and television sets - requires the strategic metals we mine in the manufacturing process.

Lithium is used in a large range of products including batteries, armourplating and even pacemakers.

The presence of potash fertiliser in the North Queensland deposit will be good news for our farmers and will do its bit to strengthen the economics of the mining venture.

In Australia, we can and must do better to fairly and safely exploit our natural position as a resources superpower.

The North Queensland lithium province should spur us to add more value to the raw product here in our own country.

This opinion piece was published in the Townsville Bulletin on July 6, 2019.