Australia to uncover ‘geological potential’ of critical minerals exploration

The Critical Minerals Facilitation Office and Geoscience Australia have announced the development of a web-based critical minerals portal to encourage further exploration as the country moves towards the path of economic recovery.

Australia’s Critical Minerals Portal is currently in development through a partnership between the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office and Geoscience Australia. It is set to provide explorers in the resources industry with an online portal to evaluate the geological and economic potential of certain minerals across the country.

The Federal Government has been hard at work with enhancing the country’s critical minerals sector, which includes silica. In early June, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week with India which also focused on critical minerals.

This ramp up in minerals exploration activity also lend itself to more potential jobs in the sector.

The Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the portal will be vital during the setbacks COVID-19 has instilled.

“Australia has one of the world’s most technically advanced, innovative and efficient resources industries, a skilled workforce, stable investment climate and government incentives,” he said. “The portal will provide a tool for users from around the world to assess the economic and geological potential of critical mineral resources, highlighting Australia’s significant potential as an investment destination.”

Queensland to unearth exploration potential

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government has added $10 million towards mineral exploration grants as part of its Unite and Recover jobs plan.

Both the state economy and employment is expected to receive a boost from the funding.

“This booster pack has the potential to create the next round of mega resource projects and jobs of the future,” Queensland mines minister Anthony Lynham said.

Exploration grants of up to $200,000 dollars over four years will be provided with the $10 million package.

For Cement & Aggregate Consulting principal economic geologist Jackie Gauntlett (MAusIMM), the funding boost will help jumpstart Queensland’s stagnated minerals exploration industry.

“The Queensland Government’s announcement of a $10 million boost to the existing CEI industry grants can only be positive news for the employment and growth of Australian geoscientists,” he said.

“The focus on innovative exploration techniques and reassessment of historical datasets provides organisations, particularly junior explorers, with the fiscal space to undertake studies which are important for the growth of the industry but may not typically be funded by traditional capital markets.

“The initiative provides the opportunity for geoscientists to apply fresh ideas and R&D initiatives to their exploration activities,” Gauntlett said. “This in turn keeps Australian geoscientists on the forefront of innovative exploration techniques, while providing the potential for breakthrough discoveries of key mineral deposits (new economy minerals).

“Junior exploration companies undertake the bulk of exploration activities in Australia and handle the most significant discoveries. Funding for these companies, which typically come from capital markets, has stagnated over the past decade – even as costs have increased.

“This has resulted in many fewer metres drilled per dollar spent, at a time when exploration is moving into frontier districts and the need for geological data collection is high. Thus, to keep the discovery pipeline flowing, while deposits are getting trickier to find, it is now more important than ever for innovation and collaboration between geoscientists within industry and government,” he added.

“After all, discoveries result in not just an asset for its discoverer, but for the state, country, and all its people.”