South Australian miners have remained unaffected by the global economic slump, which caused a decline in commodity prices and exploration spending, the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) said.

SACOME president John Roberts said the yearly expenditure on minerals exploration in the Australian state during the past financial year had still surpassed the state’s objective.

“New resources projects underway or planned for SA are largely of high quality, and therefore have some in-built protection from the full effects of the financial crisis,” Roberts said.

Roberts added there were several good examples of progress in the state during the past financial year, including the launch of OZ Minerals, a $1.5bn copper-gold mine at Prominent Hill.

Other examples include the commencement of mining at Iluka Resources’ $420m mineral sands project in the state’s far-west, and progress in numerous SA geothermal projects.

“Despite the GFC our South Australian resources industry is, for the most part, business as usual, demonstrating the tough and resilient nature of our industry in this state,” Roberts said.

“With 11 operating mines and more in the pipeline, I believe our sector will remain the backbone of our state’s economy for many years to come.”

This does not mean the industry is without its problems.

Roberts said explorers were facing difficulties in gaining access to the highly prospective areas within the Woomera Prohibited Area.

“Also, the industry desperately needs a deep-sea commodities port in the Upper Spencer Gulf so that fledgling iron ore projects can progress to export stage,” Roberts said.