The Australian Experience With Resources, Infrastructure Corridors and Supply Chains


  • Ian Satchwell



The North of Canada and the North of Australia are both resource-rich, but have underdeveloped infrastructure, small, scattered populations and high proportions of inhabitants who are Indigenous. The experiences of developing Australia’s North hold lessons for Canada. Experience from development of iron ore mining and gas production in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, and with coal and gas development in the Central Queensland coalfields region, can be applied usefully to development of resources and infrastructure in Canada’s North, as well as in other resource-rich regions of the world.

Supply chains that provide efficient transport, handling and processing of mineral and energy products in the two Australian regions, and goods and services inputs to production, have been critical to their success in becoming world-leading resources exporters. Governments and industries in the Pilbara and Central Queensland have followed contrasting pathways to developing infrastructure and supply chains. Each initial pathway had advantages and disadvantages. Approaches by governments and project operators have changed over the 60 years of resources development, in light of experience, in response to big increases in scale of production, to the need to increase efficiency, experience of existing approaches and to accommodate new industries and entrants.

Governments have key roles to play in resources regions through their control of land allocation for development, and environmental and social protection. Governments also have responsibilities and unique abilities for co-ordination of development.

While discussion in this paper focuses primarily on supply chains for transport of outputs and inputs, another important consideration is infrastructure for people, without which resources projects cannot be developed and operated.






Research Papers