Support from both sides of politics is crucial for exploration efforts that will unlock ‘next generation’ mineral deposits in Australia, the Australian Geoscience Council says.
“While Australia is endowed with significant mineral resources and the resources sector contributes massively to our economy, the ‘easy to find’ minerals of past decades have largely been discovered and exploited” AGC president Bill Shaw said.
“There is now a need to explore much deeper underground for the nation’s new ‘hidden’ mineral fields.
“Bipartisan support is crucial to ensure we champion new exploration approaches, new technologies, extremely accurate data collection and modeling. Not surprisingly, this requires significant long-term investment and the AGC seeks joint bipartisan commitment that will bring renewed confidence.”
Dr Shaw noted the Federal Coalition’s release last week of a National Resources Statement outlining how it would attract investment, develop new resources and markets, and share the benefits of success with more regional communities.
“This will include supporting the development of new resource provinces through co-operation with state and territory jurisdictions; continuing to invest in advanced seismic and airborne electromagnetic surveys through the $100 million Exploring For The Future program; and improving the consistency and scope of data across the resource sector,” he said.
“Such programs use cutting-edge technology and are having a huge impact on new views of potential minerals and groundwater provinces. The Coalition has also announced priority status for funding applications related to critical minerals projects under the $20 million Round 7 of the Cooperative Research Centres Project.”
The AGC also welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s Future Mines and Jobs plan , aimed at kick-starting the discovery of new mines across the country.
It will also establish an Australian Future Mines Centre to co-ordinate exploration work and lead the scientific research and development necessary to explore under deep cover.
The Centre would be funded through a $23 million Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative, with input from the Australian Academy of Science and the sector.
Labor has also pledged to invest $2 million to provide 100 scholarships to arrest the decline in mining engineering degree commencements.
“The Australian Geoscience Council strongly welcomes the significant focus of the major parties on supporting the resources sector to discover the next generation of ‘hidden’ mineral resources and increase Australia’s minerals and energy security,” Dr Shaw said.
“The markets and competitive profile around the globe are always changing, and they impact on Australia’s mineral resources and export opportunities, so there is no cause for complacency. We must have the knowledge to be able to plan and act strategically.”