By Samantha James

RESOURCE industry employer group Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) has called the NSW Government’s approval of a new $1 billion rare earth and metals mine in Dubbo “fantastic news” for the regional, state and national economies.

“AMMA welcomes NSW granting an environment protection licence to Alkane Resources this week, in what was the final regulatory hurdle after a decade long process for the Dubbo zirconia project,” AMMA executive director, policy and public affairs Scott Barklamb said.

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

Construction of the 30,000 tonne per annum rare metals and rare earths mine would create 450 jobs and employ more than 250 production personnel for at least 20 years.

Mr Barklamb said the Dubbo project demonstrated opportunities for Australia’s resource sector to diversify its markets beyond 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,” he said.

“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.”

Federal Government data showed that 22 major resources and energy projects were waiting to get the green light in NSW.