Australian Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane and WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion, will this week launch an industry sponsored roadmap that will outline a unified set of priority activities to make a dramatic improvement in greenfields and under cover mineral exploration in the country.
According to the joint press release by Mr Macfarlane and Mr Marmion, the UNCOVER Roadmap will set out the minerals industry’s long-term R&D and new pre-competitive geoscience data needs to help locate and recover new mineral deposits.
“Most major mineral deposits were discovered decades ago, largely from regions that outcropped. In mining these areas, Australia has developed a high-quality, efficient and world-renowned mining sector, but it means exploration success rates have declined over time,” Mr Macfarlane said.
He said exploration was becoming more costly and technically difficult because new discoveries were inevitably more deeply buried than the minerals that had been already found.
“We need to develop new technology and ways to enable us to search beneath the 80% of the continent that is covered by non-mineralised rocks and sediments,” Mr Macfarlane added.
“It has been almost four decades since the $1 trillion minerals deposit was discovered under 300 metres of barren cover at the tier one Olympic Dam deposit. The Australian resources industry must now focus on the next generation of major, tier one discoveries that will add significantly to the economy.”
Mr Marmion said the UNCOVER Roadmap identified 16 high priority research and technology development activities out of 45 focus areas that would “boost success for the exploration and geoscience community” over the coming decade.
“The coordinators of the roadmap development project, AMIRA International, have a great track record for facilitating collaborative mining industry projects. Work by the company in 2005 for the drilling exploration sector laid out a multitude of opportunities for cheaper, safer and smarter ways of going about one of the core activities of minerals exploration,” the Minister said.
“This led to the Deep Exploration Technologies CRC, which has been creating commercialised solutions for the drilling industry ever since. The UNCOVER Roadmap is an outstanding example of the industry collaborating to define the priority research requirements for future minerals exploration for Australia.”