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First Quantum Minerals announced yesterday it will be closing its Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia. One WA body said it’s a symptom of a larger problem.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) acting chief executive officer Adrienne LaBombard said the closure was a sign that WA companies are challenged to remain commercially viable in a highly competitive global market.

“We know that companies like First Quantum have a strong presence and deeply embedded relationship with the local community, and decisions like this aren’t made lightly,” LaBombard said.

“The WA Government has recently made efforts to support the critical minerals sector’s resilience through initiatives such as royalty relief, which CME has welcomed, but the fact is the cost of doing business in Australia is high.

“The WA resources sector is experiencing significant inflationary pressures that work against us when compared with companies in other jurisdictions, especially if those competitors don’t hold the same safety, product quality or ESG credentials.”

LaBombard said critical minerals represent a strategically important sector in need of solutions and settings that ensure viability and sustainability in the longer-term.

“The WA Government’s Nickel Financial Assistance program is one of many measures needed in a coordinated and proactive response by both state and federal governments,” she said.

“Further strategies and actions are required to secure the longevity and resilience of the sector. That means both fiscal and industry policy settings including incentives like a production tax credit, access to project-ready land and streamlined regulatory permissions.”

LaBombrand warned a failure by the WA Government to adequately invest in and support WA’s resources sector could have significant and lasting effects.

“Ultimately, the world needs to decide if it values operational standards, resources quality and ESG compliance because that needs to be reflected in prices,” she said.

“In the meantime, there’s a risk the global energy transition will slip from our grasp and WA will lose opportunities other countries will willingly seize.”