(EnergyAsia, May 30) — About 90 mineral and energy projects worth a record total of A$34 billion is either under construction or have been committed in Australia at this moment. (US$1=A$1.33).

 

According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), another 166 projects are at less advanced stages and still undergoing feasibility studies. The information is contained in a new ABARE report, “Minerals and energy: major development projects Ð April 2006 listing“.

 

The agency’s executive director, Brian Fisher, said: “This is a record number of advanced projects and, at A$34 billion, the total value of these projects is also a record.”

 

In total there are a record 256 major projects in the April 2006 listing, including the 90 that are considered ‘advanced’ projects under construction or committed to. A further 166 projects are at less advanced stages and still undergoing feasibility studies. 47 projects are new to the list since October last year.

 

“The number of advanced minerals and energy projects in Australia will add significantly to the sector’s production and export capacity in the short to medium term,” said Dr Fisher.

 

Petroleum and coal projects account for almost half (or A$16.5 billion) of the estimated capital cost of A$34 billion for all of the advanced projects. Investment interest is also strong in iron ore, gold and nickel, which account for a further 21%, 8% and 7%, respectively, of the estimated total capital cost.

 

Dr Fisher noted that factors such as the scarcity of skilled labor, and increased materials and construction costs have recently caused delays and cost increases for some projects.

 

“With an exceptionally large number of projects currently committed to or under development, project cost pressures and delays are unlikely to ease in the short to medium term,” he said.

 

“The estimated total Australian mineral exploration expenditure in 2005-06 was the highest since 1997-98 while estimated mining capital expenditure in 2005-06 was the highest on record. This bodes well for future development in the sector,” said Dr Fisher.