Coal and gas 'natural ally' of renewables

Mining executives and diplomats have been assured of access to Australian ores and expertise under the new federal government.

Resources Minister Madeleine King held private meetings with international delegations at a mining conference in Sydney as police with sniffer dogs prowled the vast expo floor.

Ms King vowed to back new gas and coal fields to combat the energy crisis. She also expressed support for the ongoing role of gas to power mining and refining, which will support a net-zero emissions economy.

The Albanese government's position on new coal and gas development is clear, the minister told the International Mining and Resources Conference.

"If the environmental and economic credentials stack up, and projects receive all the necessary approvals, the government will support new developments," Ms King said on Thursday.

Traditional players including coal and gas have a significant role to play during the energy transition as a "natural ally" of renewable sources, she said.

But Ms King failed to offer energy inflation relief to an industry juggling fuel cost pressures in mining, processing, refining and shipping.

The minister also dismissed calls for a gas price cap, even as Western Australia benefits from lower costs under its gas reservation policy while industry and manufacturing in the eastern states miss out.

"I don't want to support ad hoc and knee-jerk policy proposals that don't really address what is a really complex problem," she told reporters.

The gas industry was aware its pricing was "on the nose", Ms King said, and it was up to providers to justify the tariffs they offered customers.

The minister also used her keynote speech to urge mining bosses to get behind the Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples.

"It's an issue that's important to me personally and also to the government," she said.

More than 60 per cent of projects are on land covered by a claim or determination affording rights and interests to traditional owners.

Ms King said First Nations communities, some in the most remote parts of Australia, were important partners for mining and urged the sector to recruit, train and buy from First Nations suppliers.

Australia's abundance of the critical minerals needed for clean energy technologies is a drawcard for the summit's more than 7500 delegates, as is the glittering gala dinner.

But the police presence is heavy at the Darling Harbour venue, with climate protesters crying foul over the expansion of gas and coal.

A "blockade" is planned for Friday, the final day of the biggest mining expo since the pandemic.

Ms King reiterated the road to net zero is through mining.

"We have to extract more minerals, not less, to get there," she said.

More than 100 countries have sent delegations to lock in minerals and innovation, ranging from traditional iron ore and coal to technology company BIA5's robotics.

Federal budget papers forecast Australian mining investment to grow by four per cent in 2022/23 and 5.5 per cent in 2023/24 to hit the highest levels in seven years.

But that's short of the expansion seen in the last boom, and Australia has stiff competition for global capital.

"The global race for critical minerals is on, including minerals and metals that will fuel the clean energy future," Canada's High Commissioner Mark Glauser told the conference.

Demand for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries is set to skyrocket as automakers in Europe, Asia and the US ramp up manufacturing.

"But it's not just any critical minerals that will do the job," he said.

"It will be the sustainable, carbon-competitive, responsible and reliably sourced critical minerals."