02/05/2022 - 14:57

$12m earmarked for statewide mining survey

02/05/2022 - 14:57

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The state government will fund what promises to be the world’s largest seismic survey in a major data-gathering effort hoped to pin down new mining prospects in WA.

$12m earmarked for statewide mining survey
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said that there was high demand for battery and critical minerals. Photo: Gabriel Olivera

The state government will fund what promises to be the world’s largest seismic survey in a major data-gathering effort hoped to pin down new mining prospects in WA.

The WA-Array program was announced by Mines and petroleum minister Bill Johnston this morning as part of the 2022-2023 state budget.

The $12 million will be allocated over four years to undertake a passive seismic survey – a method for identifying and mapping underground resources – across the entirety of Western Australia.

According to the state government, the WA-Array program will be the largest of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world.

A total of 165 seismometers, which will be relocated annually, will be deployed in a grid pattern at 40 kilometre intervals to collect and map the data over 10 years.

Once collected, the state government says the data would then be made freely available to resource explorers, researchers and the WA community.

Minister Johnston said the program would help unlock a new generation of resource discoveries.

"The global transition to clean energy presents significant opportunities, which is why the McGowan Government is working hard to invest in and attract new industries to WA,” the Minister said.

"Battery and critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel face ever increasing demand, so we need to keep supporting the search for the mines of tomorrow."

It follows a pre-election pledge made by Anthony Albanese on Sunday to allocate $1 billion to a ‘Value-Adding in Resources Fund’ as part of a broader $15 billion national reconstruction fund.

It was proposed that the fund would be used to provide loans, equity and guarantees for resources businesses deemed “value-adding” as well as mining science businesses.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) chief executive Warren Pearce welcomed both announcements.

“There are currently emerging critical minerals projects all across Australia that could benefit from this support, and many Australian companies seriously looking at value adding opportunities,” Mr Pearce said.

He said that costs were an obstacle for industry.

“One of the major challenges to achieving down-streaming processing and value adding is the comparative high cost of building these facilities here in Australia,” he said.

“However, if we can get over the high initial start-up costs with support from government, these operations will offer prosperous long-term opportunities, creating hundreds of high skilled and high paying jobs."

Mr Pearce echoed a similar sentiment on the WA-Array program.

“Greenfields exploration and the search for deeper deposits is challenging and expensive,” he said.

“Mineral explorers have always relied on publicly available geological surveys and mapping to assist with early stage targeting and project generation.

“From this starting point, these companies raise private funds and develop targeted exploration programs.” 

A handful of projects in Western Australia were recently awarded a large share of a $234 million critical minerals funding initiative from the federal government, also designed to bolster downstream processing.

 

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