The peak body for Australia’s 8,000 geoscientists — the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) — has strongly welcomed commitments from both the Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party to boost support for the exploration of ‘next generation’ hidden mineral deposits in Australia.
|AGC President, Dr Bill Shaw|
“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, Dr Bill Shaw, said.
“There is now a need to explore much deeper underground for the nation’s new ‘hidden’ mineral fields.”
AGC believes that bipartisan support is crucial to ensure that new exploration approaches, new technologies, extremely accurate data collection and modelling are championed in the future. The Council regcognises that this requires significant long-term investment and bipartisan commitment that will bring renewed confidence.
“If Australia is to benefit from the huge demand for the minerals supporting sustainable technologies — copper, cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite and the rare earth metals needed for solar panels, electric vehicles and the batteries they need for storing renewable energy — significant investment will be required in new technologies and approaches to uncover ‘harder to find’ minerals,” continued Dr Shaw.
“The Australian Geoscience Council has been actively involved in the UNCOVER initiative and Decadal Plan for Geoscience — two initiatives of the Australian Academy of Science that have brought together government Geoscience agencies, industry, academia and research bodies in a unique collaboration to initiate and fast-track much-needed Geoscience research, data collection and new technologies to find and better exploit ‘hidden’ mineral deposits deep under the Earth’s surface.”
A Resources 2030 Taskforce established by the Coalition Government has also focused attention on the need to attract and encourage resource development investment, with many countries watching how Australia takes this forward as they try to catch up with the initiatives.
“It is clear that the world-leading vision of these cross-sector geoscience collaborations has been noticed, with both the Coalition Government and the Australian Labor Party announcing they will significantly invest in long-term plans to boost and support minerals exploration in Australia,” continued Dr Shaw.
“The Australian Geoscience Council notes that the Coalition has just released a National Resources Statement outlining how it will 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 AU$100 million Exploring For The Future program; and improving the consistency and scope of data across the resource sector.”
AGC has also welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s announcement of their Future Mines and Jobs plan that will kick-start 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 will be funded through a AU$23 million Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative, with input from the Australian Academy of Science and the sector. Labor will encourage industry co-funding as part of the Centre’s work and will also invest AU$2 million to provide 100 scholarships to arrest the decline in mining engineering degree commencements.”
“The years of easy exploration and extraction are largely over,” says Dr Shaw.
“The road ahead is going to require more innovation and substantial lead-times in discovering and developing the resources that Australia and the world needs. These must be found and extracted safely, cleanly and efficiently if we are to continue to support and maintain the community values that we expect in Australia.”