Exploration gets funding boost

THE Australian government will invest a further A$125 million in Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program.
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Staff reporter

The investment adds to the $100 million previously spent.

The EFTF program uses a series of cutting-edge geoscientific techniques to map the geological structures at unprecedented scale and detail.

The freely available information creates a better understanding of Australia's mineral, energy and groundwater systems.

 "Investments in the resources sector are investments in jobs and opportunity, especially in regional Australia," Minister for resources, water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said.

"The Australian government is focused on creating new jobs to help Australia recover from impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our resources sector has been the standout performer over the last few months, continuing to operate safely during these unprecedented times.

"This program will help deliver the next round of investment and job creation in our world-leading resources sector."

Pitt said independent analysis of the first half of the program indicated it could deliver just over $2.5 billion in economic benefits and jobs in northern Australia.

"Even though Australia is known for its world-class mineral resources sector, over 80% of Australia is still underexplored," he said.

"Over the past four years, EFTF has worked across northern Australia to deliver world-leading data about the region's mineral, energy and water resource potential to industry, government and communities.

"The existing program has already demonstrated significant success unlocking Australia's resource potential in the north that extending it just made sense. This will give industry, investors and the broader community a consistent, nationwide picture of our natural resource potential."

Geoscience Australia CEO Dr James Johnson said 200 datasets were released through a new online portal in the first phase of the EFTF.

"We can now develop this as a national resource," he said.

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said exploration could take some time to recover following the pandemic.

"While there is more to be done to support exploration, backing pre-competitive geoscience through programs like Exploring for the Future will help unlock mineral wealth to create new jobs and deliver long-term benefits for all Australians," she said.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce said the decision to reinvest in the program showed a strong commitment to the mining and exploration sector.

"This program will bring long-term benefits to Australia and will help to attract local and international investment to Australia," he said.

AMEC is still calling for further support from the government, including eligibility for explorers for the JobKeeper program.