CSG and shale gas could reboot mining boom

THE controversial coal seam gas industry and a potential shale gas sector could "re-boot the mining and energy boom", Trade Minister Andrew Robb told Asian investors on Thursday.

Mr Robb made the comments addressing a high-level investment conference in Hong Kong, just a day after the New South Wales Government placed more restrictions on the CSG industry.

Evoking Mark Twain, Mr Robb said reports of the death of Australia's mining boom had been "greatly exaggerated", intimating he wanted to deliver "decades of prosperity" to Australia and LNG export customers.

He said the LNG industry, which is set to export its first CSG-LNG production through Gladstone as early as next year, would be "phenomenal" for Australia.

"By the end of next year another chapter opens when all three major Gladstone projects in Queensland will be in production - the world's first LNG export projects sourced from unconventional coal seam gas," he said.

"When combined with the developments in offshore LNG in Western Australia, these projects mean that by 2017-18, Australia could overtake Qatar as the world's largest LNG exporter."

Mr Robb also touted the potential benefits of opening up the Galilee Basin in central Queensland to new thermal coal projects, backed by Indian and Australian investors Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer.

Despite concerns about the fall in Chinese demand for thermal coal, Mr Robb talked up the projects, saying it was on par with the opening up of the Bowen Basin.

He also said a potential shale gas industry in Australia, deposits of which are found in central Queensland's Fitzroy Delta, could yet add "another century to our gas resource life" on top the CSG projects already in train.

"We are now on the hunt for the next wave of investors to support the next instalment of our mining and energy story," he said.

"To support that, I am currently in the process of appointing a group of senior investment specialists, to help drive and facilitate inward investment by the private sector."

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