Exploration targets two new mineral corridors
Mining News Pro - The federal government this week said that two new corridors stretching the length of the nation would be the focus of the A$125-million expansion of the Exploring for the Future programme.

The additional A$125-million investment into the programme was announced in late June as part of the government’s move to strengthen resource exploration to drive investment and generate jobs.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said this week that the two corridors that would benefit from this exploration expenditure have been identified by scientific experts at Geoscience Australia as having high potential for new energy, minerals and groundwater resource discoveries.

The Minister said expanding Exploring for the Future to include the two corridors would support the country`s economic recovery, particularly in regional Australia, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We know that a major way to speed up new mining and agricultural activities that drive jobs and economic growth is by providing the geological data and information that de-risks exploration and investment,” Pitt said.

“Geoscience Australia already has a good understanding of the two corridors’ geology, which suggests they both have potential for new discoveries of groundwater, conventional and unconventional oil and gas, and a wide range of minerals including gold, diamonds, base metals and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements and lithium.

“The challenge for Exploring for the Future is to narrow down the location of the new mineral, energy and groundwater resources located along these corridors, which each run for thousands of kilometres through remote parts of Australia,” Pitt said.

The east corridor will start at the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria and run through Mount Isa in Queensland and down the borders of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

The west corridor will start just south of Darwin and straddles the borders of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia finishing at the edge of the Great Australian Bight.

“In addition to undertaking targeted activities along these corridors, over the next four years, Geoscience Australia will also lead the collection of large-scale data from across southern Australia.

“The large-scale data from southern Australia will be combined with corresponding data from northern Australia, which was collected during the Exploring for the Future programme from 2016 to 2020."

Pitt said the Australian government is confident the programme can replicate the success of its activities in northern Australia, which were funded by a A$100-million investment announced in Budget 2016/17.

“In its first four years, the programme carried out more than 20 activities across three-million square kilometres of northern Australia, including geophysical surveys, geochemical sampling, hydrogeological mapping and stratigraphic drilling,” he said.

“The majority of its A$100-million budget was spent on activities in regional and remote Australia. This included funding contract positions in the mining equipment, technology and services sector to support data collection and fieldwork activities.

“It has delivered a detailed picture of potential resources in northern Australia, including almost 250 new datasets that are now publicly available through the Exploring for the Future portal.”

Fourteen companies have taken up more than 80 000 km2 of exploration tenements in areas the programme focused on, and ten of these companies have publicly recognised the role Exploring for the Future data played in their decision.

“A return on investment analysis of three Exploring for the Future projects by ACIL Allen, which included a number of the programme’s activities, estimated the total potential benefits could be worth up to A$2.5-billion,” the Minister said.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) has welcomed the news as another success for the exploration programme.

“Over the past four years the Exploring for the Future has continued to demonstrate significant success in identifying Australia’s resource potential in the north, so we are pleased to see the government including two more corridors in the programme,” Amec CEO Warren Pearce said.

“This programme will bring long-term benefits to Australia and will help to attract local and international investment to Australia helping our industry to bounce back quicker post-Covid-19, and support the economic recovery of the country.”

“The exploration industry underpins our resource sector and this programme demonstrates the commitment of the federal government to support the mineral exploration industry, at a time when large parts of mineral exploration have been hit hard by Covid-19.”