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Minerals boss rallies the troops

Tuesday, 27th May, 2014

By Erica Visser

The State’s mining industry could soon recover with announcements imminent about uranium exploration, according to the CEO of the NSW Minerals Council.

Stephen Galilee was a keynote speaker yesterday on day one of the Resource and Investment Symposium, which has been hosted by the city for the past four years.

Mr Galilee did not elaborate on the government’s plans for uranium exploration, but said that the “tough times” might soon improve for the industry if it could fight back against its attackers.

Falling coal prices, global commodity prices and exchange rates were some of the challenges the industry could not control, he said.

However, Mr Galilee said that the mining sector had the power to influence the government taxes, charges and levies applied to the industry.

Mr Galilee said that the industry had recently been under attack from both the NSW Government and the Gillard/Rudd governments, as well as the “noisy” minority.

He listed dozens of organisations that had recently “attacked” the industry, from those with “one or two members” to large groups with generous budgets, including Greenpeace.

However, Mr Galilee said that a larger proportion of the general public now understood the benefits of mining.

His address followed an introduction from symposium organiser Kerry Stevenson, who said she was frustrated by Sydney residents who did not have an appreciation for the mining industry.

Mr Galilee said that while the industry was up against “noisy voices”, 70 per cent of the public supported the mining industry.

“It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the debate of the day, forgetting that there’s people living their lives outside the Canberra world,” he said.

“People overwhelmingly understand this industry is important.”

Ms Galilee said that 56 per cent of Sydney residents believed the industry was vital to the State; a figure up from 40 per cent in the past two years.

But he accused the NSW Government of “a failure of leadership” and “ill-conceived regulatory responses”.

“We’ve seen a lot of levies and charges ... we’ve seen some increases of 30 per cent or more.”

Mr Galilee said that industry had been subject to “public vilification” under a Rudd Government, “which encouraged others, particularly the Greens, to launch sustained attacks against our industry.

“The government has allowed itself to be bullied by the noisy voices.

“They only make up 10 or 11 per cent, but they are very noisy.”

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