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BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry took the stage at the World Mining Congress 2023, where he said mining is pivotal in preserving a better future for Australians.

Henry said mining will help improve future standards of living, job opportunities, and better access to health care and education.

“For nations, mining brings the opportunity for secure jobs, economic development and investment – as well as secure energy solutions and food supply chains that sustain lives and livelihoods,” Henry said.

“I am sure everyone in this room knows the impact that mining has had on Australia. Australia would not be the country it is today, wouldn’t have the living standards Australians enjoy today, without mining.”

Henry said that governments around the world have a responsibility to provide strong institutional and regulatory confidence to foster a dynamic, commercial and open market that encourage competition and productivity, and they must pursue an economy-wide transition to net zero emissions – one of these ways being through critical minerals.

“Last week the Australian Government released its Critical Minerals Strategy, and we look forward to working further with them on a critical minerals list that reflects the best interests of the nation,” Henry said.

“I did see some criticism that the new Strategy didn’t contain even more by way of subsidies. For what it’s worth, I think this is absolutely the right approach… What governments here – federal and state – should focus on are those things within their control to make investment fundamentally more attractive. Not simply due to the sugar hit of a subsidy.”

Despite some positives, Henry said some recent activity in the Australian resources sector will make the country less completive, such as the Federal Government’s ‘same job, same pay’ legislation and the Queensland Government’s decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty taxes.

As a result of the Queensland coal royalty taxes, Henry said BHP will not be investing further money in the State.

“In this case, both the outcome and the process have meant for BHP that we have opportunities to invest for better returns and lower risk elsewhere around the world, as well as here in Australian states like Western Australia and South Australia,” Henry said.

“And we will not be investing any further growth dollars in Queensland under the current conditions.”

Henry concluded that the resources industry is critical in enabling the future.

“The world is on a path to what we must ensure is a better future. We will have substantially more people on this planet, seeking higher standards of living, that need to be supplied and powered by resources extracted, refined and used more sustainably,” Henry said.

“This industry is critical to enabling that future. And the opportunity is large. If we deliver on this opportunity, we deliver for the world. For economies, societies and communities.”