$100m in additional funding announced in the budget will help map mineral, energy and groundwater potential in northern Australia and South Australia, resources minister Josh Frydenberg has said.
The federal budget, handed down on Tuesday night, included $100m of new funding for Geoscience Australia.
“The $100m Exploring for the Future programme will produce pre-competitive geoscience data, to be released on an annual basis over the next four years,” Frydenberg said.
“Geoscience Australia estimates that around 80% of Australia remains under-explored.”
Areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland, WA and South Australia will be the focus of the initiative.
“This will improve Australia’s long term exploration prospects and help address declining new onshore exploration,” the minister said.
“At a challenging time for the resources sector, this important initiative will help ensure that Australia’s strength in innovation is furthered, and that we maintain our competitive edge in this world-leading sector.”
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson said the initiative would help trigger the next wave of minerals exploration.
“Australia’s world-class federal and state geological survey agencies have a record of delivering a strong return on investment in pre-competitive scientific data,” Pearson said, citing some estimates which suggest pre-competitive exploration has a multiplier for national income of more than 20 times.
“Australia ranks second in the world at converting exploration into minerals discoveries,” he continued.
“Australia accounts for about 9% of global exploration investment but accounts for 18% of minerals discovery.”
Pearson said the investment would propel a step-change in knowledge and technology, allowing exploration companies to operate in areas historically difficult to explore.
Aside from the exploration funding, Pearson welcomed the budget as a whole.
“The 2016 federal budget is a strong pro-growth budget,” he opined.
“It balances a careful approach to spending, the maintenance of a strict approach to tax integrity and lays out a medium term plan to promote investment and growth.
“The move to a lower company tax cut will, over time, improve the competitiveness of our tax system and promote investment and well-paid jobs, including in the resources sector.”