Mining and Heavy Industries

WA invests $40M into critical minerals discoveries

lithium processing

The Western Australian Government will invest $40 million to accelerate critical minerals discoveries and take advantage of the global shift towards net zero.

WA currently accounts for half of global lithium production and is a major exporter of nickel, cobalt, manganese and rare earth elements.

However, research shows the world’s known reserves of critical minerals cannot meet future needs.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the transition to clean energy represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for WA as economies around the world seek to secure their critical minerals supply chains.

“No other Australian State comes close to matching our commitment to minerals and energy exploration, and WA continues to lead the pack by some distance,” McGowan said.

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“This major investment into geoscience builds on the strong foundation of our world-leading resources sector, paving the way for growth in a low-carbon future.

“Our 2023-24 State Budget delivers on the WA Jobs Plan, helping to diversify the WA economy and create new jobs into the future.”

The Sustainable Geoscience Investments package, included in the 2023-24 State Budget, addresses the ever-increasing demand for critical minerals used in technologies such as electric vehicles, energy storage and solar panels.

The investment will include:

  • a $16.1 million boost to the Exploration Incentive Scheme to increase greenfield exploration and create a new Geophysical Co-funding Program (GCP). The GCP will support better decision-making around land use by excluding ground that shows little or no prospectivity;
  • $6.7 million for an Industry Ready Program (IRP) to create data analytics packages for key regions and commodities. The IRP will also sponsor up to three graduates per year to boost their skills by working at the Geological Survey of WA;
  • $6.2 million for magnetotelluric data acquisition to enable more targeted exploration. This data will be particularly powerful when combined with the passive seismic data being collected through the McGowan Government’s ongoing WA Array project;
  • a $4 million boost to the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia to expand research and innovation in net zero and waste reduction projects;
  • $3.3 million to update and optimise core libraries in Carlisle and Kalgoorlie, including new bionic lifting equipment; and
  • $3.7 million to redevelop and improve many of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) online data services.

It aims to build on the state’s other initiatives to facilitate green energy projects, such as the Green Energy Assessment Unit, Future Battery Industry Strategy, Diversification Leases for large scale renewable energy projects, and sustained investment in hydrogen.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said accelerating exploration activity is crucial to the State’s future economic success.

“We need to keep providing high-quality data for resource exploration to help maintain our global reputation as a proven investment partner,” Johnston said.

“WA competes with several other jurisdictions to attract exploration investment so the McGowan Government will continue to support programs that provide our State with competitive advantages in this area.

“WA’s resources sector delivered a record $231 billion of sales in 2021-22, and the bedrock of this success was the hard work put in by minerals exploration companies.”

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