Junior explorers operating in regional New South Wales could benefit from $6m in grants under the state government’s third round of the New Frontiers Cooperative Drilling program.

This is a $2m boost from the $4m allocated under the two previous rounds of the program.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources John Barilaro told the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne on Tuesday that successful applicants would receive a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent of their per metre drilling costs up to a maximum of $200,000.

“We’ve already seen the benefits from previous rounds of this fund, with the first Cooperative Drilling hole in a project near Broken Hill striking high-grade platinum group metals and leading to a $5m joint venture investment,” he said.

“Our goal is to make NSW the number one state for new mineral exploration and resources investment across the nation, and we’re doing that by providing greater support for explorers and investors, and providing greater certainty for the mining sector.”

The NSW government will also make public in the first quarter of 2020 the results of a recently completed aerial electromagnetic survey covering more than 19,000sqkm over the Greater Cobar region.

“A vast array of metals are used worldwide to manufacture high-tech products such as smartphones, satellite components and pacemakers, as well as renewable energy technologies including wind turbines and the batteries in hybrid and electric cars,” Barilaro said.

“Global demand for metals is growing strongly and we want to ensure that the people of NSW, especially the NSW Central West, have every chance to capitalise on that demand, with the exploration for new mineral deposits and groundwater sources generating jobs, attracting investment and bringing economic and social benefits to local communities.”

As part of the state’s Minerals Strategy, the minister also launched its new Online Minerals Prospectus.

“This dynamic online portal acts as a one-stop shop for explorers, project developers and mining investors, giving them the tools and guidance they need to tap into the minerals and business potential of NSW, especially regional NSW,” Barilaro added.

“Mining makes a significant contribution to the NSW economy and provides a wide variety of benefits to communities across regional NSW, including employment, with the industry supporting more than 29,000 direct and 115,000 indirect jobs.”

Mining royalties in NSW are estimated to deliver almost $8 billion to the state over the next four years.