Australia’s reliance on the resources sector has clearly been recognised by the Federal government, which has invested a further $125m into Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program.

This new investment adds to the previous $100m spent on the program.

The EFTF program uses a series of cutting-edge geoscientific techniques to map geological structures across Australia at an unprecedented scale and detail before making it freely available.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt says expanding the program will deliver immediate and long-term benefits to multiple sectors including resources and agriculture.

“Investments in the resources sector are investments in jobs and opportunity, especially in regional Australia,” he said, pointing to how well the sector has performed despite the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic on the economy.

Pitt noted that despite being well-known for its world-class mineral resources sector, over 80 per cent of Australia remained underexplored.

“Over the past four years, EFTF has worked across northern Australia to deliver world-leading data about the region’s mineral, energy and water resource potential to industry, government and communities,” he added.

“We are confident of the long-term impacts of the existing program, with independent analysis of the first half of the program, indicating it could deliver just over $2.5bn in economic benefits and jobs in northern Australia.”

The investment was welcomed by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) and Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), the industry bodies for the mining and petroleum sectors.

AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce says the decision to re-invest in the EFTF program demonstrated a strong commitment to the continued growth of the mining and exploration industry and would help discover the next generation of Australian mines.

His oil and gas counterpart Andrew McConville said the challenging conditions facing the industry meant that it was more important than ever to ensure that policy and regulatory framework in Australia remained competitive and encouraged further exploration and development activity.

And it is not just the Federal government that is investing in the resources sector.

The South Australian government has also handed out a raft of grants under its Accelerated Discovery Initiative (ADI) program to encourage innovation in the exploration sector and accelerate mineral discovery through innovative exploration and research projects in frontier terrains.


The small caps winning grants

Argonaut Resources (ASX:ARE) received a $320,000 grant under the ADI for planned drilling at its Murdie copper project in the Eastern Gawler Craton.

The Murdie drill targets are located within or at the margin of the same Donnington Suite granite body that hosts both the Oak Dam and Carrapateena iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) deposits.

Like Oak Dam and Carrapateena, Argonaut’s targets are defined by gravity-only geophysical anomalies that don’t have an associated magnetic anomaly and can be indicative of high-grade, hematite-dominant IOCG systems.

The best known hematite-dominant IOCG deposit is BHP’s (ASX:BHP) giant Olympic Dam mine on the eastern edge of the Gawler Craton.

Meanwhile, Boss Resources (ASX:BOE) has been awarded $275,000 under the ADI program to support geophysical exploration at the Honeymoon uranium project.

This covers the use of 3D passive seismic and the trial of the Slalom high-definition seismic reflection method that focus on paleochannel definition to investigate pre-defined exploration targets.

Exploration is aimed at increasing Boss’ current uranium resources, which total about 71.6 million pounds of U3O8.

The previously producing Honeymoon in-situ project is already fully permitted to export 3.3 million pounds of U3O8 equivalent per annum and can be restarted in 12 months in response to a market upswing.

DGO Gold (ASX:DGO) has landed a $300,000 grant under the program for passive seismic and diamond drilling to test sediment-hosted copper targets at the Pernatty Lagoon project.

Analysis of historical data has identified a +20km long Zambian Copper Belt-style sediment hosted copper target within the company’s land holding.

The transition zone target is supported by a 1.9m intercept grading 1.7 per cent copper from 185m within a diamond core hole drilled in in 1976 immediately east of the target zone.

Marmota’s (ASX:MEU) biogeochemical (tree sampling) exploration program also drew a $225,000 grant from the ADI program.

This program has already been used successfully to advance gold exploration, including the discovery of the NW flank at the company’s Aurora Tank gold project by detecting elevated levels of gold in tree leaves at the surface.

The grant will be used to accelerate the company’s biogeochem gold exploration program and expand its scope.

Minotaur Exploration (ASX:MEP) has also secured a $300,000 ADI grant for its planned ground-based audio-magnetotelluric surveys and follow-up diamond drilling within its Peake and Denison project.

The project has potential for iron oxide copper gold mineralisation wth copper mineralisation recoded in historical drilling.

Several discrete priority targets have been defined using innovative 3D magnetic cube modelling and conventional
2D and 3D magnetic and gravity modelling.