Exploration needs bipartisan backing
THE years of easy exploration and extraction are over for Australian mining and the search for new "hidden" mineral fields will only succeed if both sides of politics back and fund exploration, according to the peak body for geoscientists.
Australian Geoscience Council president Bill Shaw said the race to find another Mt Isa or Olympic Dam would define the future of mining as most of the deposits "sticking out of the surface or within 10km of a road" had been found.
"While Australia is endowed with significant mineral resources and the resources sector contributes massively to our economy, the easy to find minerals of past decades have largely been discovered and exploited," he said.
"There is now a need to explore much deeper underground for the nation's new hidden mineral fields."
He said the only way Australia would profit from its mineral wealth was if both sides of politics supported and funded mineral exploration.
"This is like the Australian space agency, we're talking about something that will have huge long term benefits if we start investing now," he said.
"We're looking to the government to provide the initial data gathering to help mining companies focus so they'll spend money on drill holes."
He welcomed recent commitments from both the Coalition Government and Labor to boost support for the exploration
"If Australia is to benefit from the huge demand for the minerals supporting sustainable technologies - copper, cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite and the rare earth metals needed for solar panels, electric vehicles and the batteries they need for storing renewable energy - significant investment will be required in new technologies and approaches to uncover harder to finds minerals," he said.