The future of Australia's resources sector has been bolstered, with the Government investing a further $125 million in a world-leading exploration-stimulation program that will expand its reach to cover the whole of Australia.
The Government’s investment adds to the $100 million previously spent on Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program to drive investment, generate jobs and secure the future of the resources sector.
The EFTF program uses a series of cutting-edge geoscientific techniques to map the geological structures at unprecedented scale and detail.
This freely available information creates a better understanding of our mineral, energy and groundwater systems and allows us to realise Australia’s economic potential.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said expanding the program would deliver immediate and long-term benefits to multiple sectors, including resources and agriculture.
'Investments in the resources sector are investments in jobs and opportunity, especially in regional Australia,' Minister 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.
'Even though Australia is known for its world-class mineral resources sector, over 80 per cent 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 the program, indicating it could deliver just over $2.5 billion in economic benefits and jobs in northern Australia.
'More than ever before, we need the resources and agriculture sectors to be growing and helping lead our economic recovery following COVID-19.
'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.'
Minister Pitt said the sector continues to grow and is supporting Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic.
'The Australian resources sector has a long term future and will continue to underpin the wealth of the Australian economy for decades,' he said.
'It will be key in supporting rural and regional economies, and currently employs more than one million Australians, directly or indirectly.'
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 Exploring for the Future, 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,' Dr Johnson said.
The first phase of Exploring for the Future, focussed on northern Australia, commenced in 2016 and will conclude on 30 June 2020. The Government’s additional $125 million funding will extend the program for another four years and expand its reach nationally. More information on Exploring for the Future is available at Geoscience Australia’s website: https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf
ACIL Allen conducted a return on investment analysis of three key EFTF activities. It concluded that the total potential benefits flowing from the activities could be between $446 million and $2.5 billion. The analysis, Exploring for the Future Program – Return on Investment (24 December 2019), is available in full at: https://www.acilallen.com.au/projects/program-evaluation/exploring-for-the-future-program-return-on-investment-analysis
Source: Australian Government