THE HON KEITH PITT MP
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia
Member for Hinkler
PHILLIP THOMPSON OAM MP
Member for Herbert
SENATOR SUSAN MCDONALD
Senator for Queensland
Major new resource corridor starts in Queensland’s north
A new resource corridor starting in Queensland’s north will be a focus of the Coalition Government’s $125 million expansion of the Exploring for the Future program.
Running for more than 2000 kilometres from the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria through Mount Isa and down the borders of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, the corridor has been identified by scientific experts at Geoscience Australia as one of two in Australia with high potential for new energy, minerals and groundwater resource discoveries.
The second corridor, which starts 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, will also be included in the expansion of the program.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt said expanding Exploring for the Future to include the two corridors will support our 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,” Minister 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 are located along these corridors, which each run for thousands of kilometres through remote parts of Australia.
“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 program from 2016 to 2020.
Minister Pitt said the Australian Government is confident the program can replicate the success of its activities in northern Australia, which were funded by a $100 million investment announced in Budget 2016-17.
“In its first four years, the program carried out more than 20 activities across three million square kilometres of northern Australia, including geophysical surveys, geochemical sampling, hydrogeological mapping and stratigraphic drilling,” Minister Pitt said.
“The majority of its $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 field work 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 square kilometres of exploration tenements in areas the program focused on. 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 program’s activities, estimated the total potential benefits could be worth up to $2.5 billion.”
Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the investment would be an excellent boost for the resource sector with flow-on benefits for Townsville.
“I’ve always backed the resource sector because it’s such a critical industry for creating jobs and driving our North Queensland economy,” he said.
“The sector contributed $1.3 billion to the Herbert economy in 2018-19 and supported nearly 8,000 full-time jobs so anything that helps grow that even further is welcome.”
North Queensland-based Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said it’s good timing for the region.
“There is no doubt that resources will play a vital role in helping Australia balance the books after COVID, so it’s imperative that we find and extract more valuable minerals and gas to help our own industries and earn more royalties,” said Senator McDonald.
“The word ‘potential’ has been used to describe North West Queensland for a long time but this new approach will position the region as one of Australia’s most important.
“Townsville too will benefit as a hub for mining engineering and logistics.
“Anything that develops jobs and population growth in regional Queensland has my full support and I commend the Morrison Government for taking this approach.”
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies has welcomed the news as another success for the EFTF program.
“Over the past four years the EFTF 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 program,” AMEC Chief Executive Officer Warren Pearce said.
“This program 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-COVID19, and support the economic recovery of the country.”
“The exploration industry underpins our resource sector and this program demonstrates the commitment of the Federal Government to support the mineral exploration industry, at a time when large parts of the mineral exploration have been hit hard by COVID-19.”
The return on investment analysis of three Exploring for the Future projects completed by ACIL Allen is available in full from acilallen.com.au/projects/program-evaluation/exploring-for-the-future-program-return-on-investment-analysis
Information about Exploring for the Future can be found at ga.gov.au/eftf