Mining minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan announced the latest round of exploration incentives stemming from the 2019-20 state budget late yesterday, saying the state had plenty of natural resources still to be unearthed and exploited.
"Opening new mines with significant deposits of copper, gold, and other strategic minerals such as uranium and cobalt will deliver new investment, jobs and increased royalties to finance South Australia's health, education and transport systems," van Holst Pellekaan said.
The most prospective areas are those deep under cover, so the government hopes the ADF will reduce the substantial financial risk that resource companies take on when exploring greenfield sites.
Past successes of earlier funding under the PACE scheme include the discovery of the world class Carrapateena copper deposit, now owned by OZ Minerals, but pushing new ideas is a hard graft.
Carrapateena was discovered in the second drill hole, but the ore body wasn't properly intersected again for another 30 holes.
Recently Aeris Resources (70%) and Argonaut Resources (30%) blew through more than $5 million drilling a fraction of the planned targets on Lake Torrens with little to show for it.
The ADF's objectives include co-funding single deep holes and or multiple hole programs in frontier terrains or testing new concepts in other areas, innovative geophysical programs, proof-of-concept proposals, logistical support for remote testing, and collaborative technology and/or machine learning projects, the government said.
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy has long lobbied for some kind of taxpayer-funded incentive scheme to bring SA back into line with other states.
"Exploration incentives are a proven economic multiplier - for every $1 million invested, an additional $23 million in benefits is returned," SACOME CEO Rebecca Knol claimed.
"Exploration incentive programs previously operating in SA were responsible for catalysing an extra $700 million in mineral exploration investment between 2002 and 2014 and have contributed to an increase in state mining revenue of $2.4 billion over that time.
"This new scheme is a timely and welcome solution to our sector's concerns in this area and is something we have been calling for since the previous scheme was removed from the budget."
In 2017-18 $55 million was invested on mineral exploration in the state. The resource sector is expected to generate 26,000 jobs, $6.1 billion in production, $4 billion in exports and $237 million in royalties.
Mining accounts for around 35% of SA's exported goods, so new discoveries that become the mines of tomorrow could deliver jobs and new revenue for the state, the government said.