Australia’s government has extended Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program for a further four years in a move that will support a stronger recovery and more regional jobs across the whole country, according to the Minerals Council of Australia.
The program has been highly successful in collecting pre-competitive geophysical data from the north of the country for use by researchers, explorers and mining companies, while attracting new exploration investment and jobs amid growing international competition from emerging mining regions, the MCA said.
The latest move will see the government invest a further A$125 million ($86 million) to expand the program’s reach to cover the whole of Australia, a statement from Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, read.
It comes on top of the A$100 million previously spent on the program to drive investment, generate jobs and secure the future of the resources sector, Pitt said.
“The EFTF program uses a series of cutting-edge geoscientific techniques to map the geological structures at unprecedented scale and detail,” the statement read. “This freely available information creates a better understanding of our mineral, energy and groundwater systems and allows us to realise Australia’s economic potential.”
Pitt said even though Australia is known for its world-class mineral resources sector, over 80% of Australia is still underexplored.
“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,” he said. “We are confident of the long-term impacts of the existing program, with independent analysis of the first half of the program, indicating it could deliver just over A$2.5 billion in economic benefits and jobs in northern Australia.”
He concluded: “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, nation-wide picture of our natural resource potential.”
Welcoming the investment, Geoscience Australia Chief Executive, Dr James Johnson, said he looked forward to continuing this fundamental support for the resources sector.
“As the nation’s pre-eminent Earth science organisation, Geoscience Australia integrates the most advanced geoscientific methods and data to build an ever-improving understanding of our mineral, energy and groundwater resources for the benefit of all Australians.
“During the first phase of EFTF, we built on that understanding by releasing 200 datasets through a new online portal and developing innovative tools to help explorers assess the economic viability of a resource and make their next big investment decision. We can now develop this as a national resource.”
Exploration investment is the foundation of Australia’s mining industry, which generates A$289 billion in export revenue, directly and indirectly supports 1.1 million jobs and contributes A$39 billion in royalties and taxes to Australian governments, according to the MCA.