Energy and resources update

9 July 2020

DMAW Lawyers summarises some key developments for businesses operating in the energy and resources sector.

Exploring for the future

The Federal Government has extended Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the future program for a further four years and will invest a further $125 million into the program, as well as expanding it to cover the whole of Australia.


This program has been highly effective in collecting pre-competitive geophysical data for use by researchers, explorers and mining companies whilst also attracting new exploration investment and jobs. The Minerals Council of Australia considers that backing pre-competitive geoscience through programs like this will help to unlock mineral wealth, create new jobs and deliver long-term benefits for Australia.


The announcement is also supported by SACOME, who believe the program will open new regions for resource sector investment by supporting resource exploration and province development and will ensure the SA resource sector is well positioned to play an important role in the nation’s post-COVID recovery.



The Federal Government has outlined further details of its Jobmaker plan, including increased spending on infrastructure and major projects.

The Jobmaker program includes a list of 15 major projects that will be fast-tracked to speed up the approval processes, including the expansion of Olympic Dam in SA.

The Government also announced $1.5 billion in funding for ‘small priority projects’ across all States and Territories.


Fuel reserve

Australia has entered a deal with the United States, which will allow Australia to lease space in the US strategic petroleum reserve. Australia will use this leased space to store oil that can be drawn from during an emergency or domestic supply shortage.

Discussions are also ongoing between the Federal Government and private sector about building additional fuel storage capacity locally.


ARENA funding

In April, ARENA announced they would invest $70 million into renewable hydrogen projects to help fast track the development of renewable hydrogen in Australia.

The initial application stage has now closed, with ARENA announcing that it has received 36 expressions of interest, including:

  • over $1 billion in total grant requests;
  • over $3 billion in total combined project value; and
  • expressions of interest from every State and Territory in Australia.


Successful projects may also be considered for further financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation under their $300 million ‘Advancing Hydrogen Fund’.


Mining and Energy Innovation Hub

A CORE Innovation Hub has opened at Lot 14 (North Terrace), and intends to bring together innovators, start-ups, scale ups, entrepreneurs and businesses into a co-working space specific to the SA mining and energy sectors.


CORE intends to create an open-source map of the innovation ecosystem for the energy and resources sectors, which will identify clusters of capability in SA and ‘provide a channel to stimulate collaboration and partnerships’.


The CORE Innovation Hub will include meeting spaces, networking events and professional training programs, and will also have a satellite presence at the Tonsley Innovation District. An online skills marketplace will provide individuals and organisations with training and development opportunities, particularly in emerging skills such as data analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence.


South Australian hybrid power station approved

The Summerfield Hybrid Grid Firming Power Station project has obtained approval from the SA Government, with construction scheduled to begin next year. The hybrid power station is a $650 million project which will utilise gas and solar power to deliver 422 megawatts of dispatchable power into the electricity grid. The power station will be built approximately 60 km east of Adelaide by privately-owned SA company SAPGen Pty Ltd with assisting technical input and experience provided by GE Power. The power station will be the third largest power station in SA once complete.


South Australian Accelerated Discovery Initiative (ADI)

The State Government is providing ADI funding for exploration activity in South Australia. Successful applicants for round 1 of the ADI were announced on 24 June 2020. In total nearly $3 million was awarded for 14 projects.



This article provides general comments only. It does not purport to be legal advice. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this article, we recommend that you seek professional advice.



Peter Kupniewski, Principal in our Corporate Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2223


Chris Floreani, Senior Associate in our Transactions Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2251


Ryan Parker, Law Graduate in our Corporate Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2235