Mineral, energy and groundwater resources are not only essential for life; they are key drivers of the Australian economy. Minerals and energy resources together contribute around $200 billion annually towards our export income while the water-dependent agricultural sector contributes a further $41 billion. Domestically, mining and agriculture are also a significant source of employment, particularly in rural and remote areas, as is the related Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector. Exploring for the Future aims to ensure these national benefits continue into the future.
Exploring for the Future is a four-year, $100.5 million program designed to investigate the potential of mineral, energy and groundwater resources in Northern Australia and parts of South Australia, both areas where the resource potential is relatively poorly known. Over the course of the program, a suite of precompetitive data and information will be released to support and de-risk investment in exploration and industry expansion.
The new program is unique in terms of scale, scope and skills. Collaboration with Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australian government agencies is vital to achieve its ambitious objective.
The first activities for the mineral and energy components of the program are underway; many are concentrated on the region from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory to Mount Isa in Queensland. This region is also the starting point for several projects that span all of Northern Australia, including:
1. A deep-looking long-period magnetotelluric (MT) project known as AusLAMP.
2. AusAEM - the national wide-spaced airborne electromagnetic survey
3. Compilation of an isotopic atlas of Northern Australia
4. A metamorphic map of Northern Australia
5. Integration of all the new Exploring for the Future data with existing data into a new 3D model
Richard Blewett, an Aussie by birth, left for Africa and UK in the 1970s. He graduated from Swansea University (Wales) in 1985 and completed a PhD in structural geology from Leicester University in the UK (1989). Richard joined the BMR in 1990, and has worked in North Queensland, the Pilbara, Sultanate of Oman, the Yilgarn, Gawler–Curnamona, Arunta and Mugraves. Richard was chief editor of Shaping a nation: A geology of Australia, published for the Brisbane 2012 IGC. He is interested in the management of science and research and has an MBA from Deakin University (2001). Richard has been involved in the development of the UNCOVER initiative of the Australian Academy of Science. He currently leads the Mineral Systems Branch in the Resources Division at Geoscience Australia, which has carriage of the minerals component of the new Exploring for the Future programme.