Around $2.3m in fees and rents will be deferred for six months as the Australian state of Victoria moves to support mining firms through the coronavirus crisis

Mining site

Trade organisations have welcomed the financial support given to Victoria's mining industry

Policymakers in the Australian state of Victoria have moved to support the region’s mining industry through the coronavirus crisis by deferring the collection of rents and annual fees.

The policy amounts to an immediate saving of around 3.5 million Australian dollars ($2.3m) for mineral-extraction firms operating in the state, which now have an additional six months to pay all rents on exploration, mining, prospecting and retention licences, along with other regulatory fees.

Victoria has previously announced a freeze on all fee increases that had been due to come into effect in July.

Minister for resources Jaclyn Symes said: “Businesses in our resources sector have done a fantastic job in keeping the industry operating – this is a practical way that we can ease the pressure on them and help keep people in jobs.

“Ensuring that our quarry sector can continue to grow and invest means it supports local jobs, communities and our infrastructure agenda.”


Victoria to fast-track critical mining projects that will support post-coronavirus recovery plans

Many extractive firms are facing operational and cash-flow difficulties during the health crisis, as Covid-19 and the containment measures put in place to limit its spread cause disruption to supply chains and daily mining activities.

In a statement, Earth Resources, Victoria’s state regulatory branch for mineral extraction, said processes would be “expedited” for projects where there is “a need to maintain a supply of critical materials”, with priority given to critical infrastructure and bushfire recovery projects.

This move comes in anticipation of a “building blitz”, in which hundreds of infrastructure projects are being planned to help boost job growth and economic recovery as the region begins to emerge from the crisis.


Financial support will help small companies struggling to survive the crisis

The announcement was welcomed by industry representatives, with the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) saying that without government support “many small exploration companies will struggle to survive” the crisis.

The trade group’s chief executive Warren Pearce said: “Due to the pandemic, there is limited opportunity to raise funds in the coming months to support future operations, and these companies have significant fixed costs that they are required to meet.

“This announcement is important as mineral exploration, along with biotech and other important start-ups, are locked out of the JobKeeper programme, leaving the sector without financial assistance.”

Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia have all taken similar steps to free-up cash-flow for mining companies through rent and deferrals, as well as exploration expenditure exemptions.

“Mineral exploration is an important regional industry in Victoria,” added Pearce. “The Victorian government’s provision of relief now will assist these companies to survive this period.”