Scott Morrison has lauded Western Australia’s resources industry for propping up the economy during one of the nation’s toughest years.
The prime minister jetted to WA’s Pilbara region on Thursday where he joined billionaire Andrew Forrest to tour Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek mining operations.
Mr Morrison inspected an ore processing facility, climbed aboard an autonomous truck and was shown an enormous solar farm that helps power the Christmas Creek and nearby Cloudbreak mines.
WA’s resources sector reported record sales of $174 billion in 2020 and a record 140,940 people are working in the industry.
“One of the reasons I was so keen to get to WA this week was to say thank you to Western Australians,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“The earnings that you’ve been able to generate in one of Australia’s toughest years has kept our economy going.
“The way the Australian economy is coming out of this COVID pandemic recession, in large part we can say thank you to the resources industry, especially here in Western Australia.”
Fortescue has set a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, exceeding Australia’s goal of “preferably” reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The company’s drive into renewables at Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak will replace the use of 100 million litres of diesel per year.
“I’m very passionate and proud of what Australians are doing to change the technology that enables them to achieve great things,” Mr Morrison said.
“And energy is central to that, it is the thing that drives our economy – it always has – and we need to change gear over the next 30 years. And that’s exactly what’s happening.”
Mr Morrison was due to meet workers at a mining camp on Thursday evening.
He will head to Kalbarri on Friday to inspect the widespread damage inflicted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja.