South Australia’s State Government has extended its accelerated discovery initiative (ADI), which provides co-financing to mineral exploration activities.

The idea is to attract greater exploration investment and bring forward new mineral resource discoveries.

The initiative kicked off in FY19, with rounds one and two allocating $7.4 million of funding to 36 initiatives.

And now the State Government is committing another $11.5 million to the program, extending it out to 2025.

The extension is expected contribute to increased exploration activity and discovery of new mineral resources to achieve the ‘South Australian Growth State’ target of $300 million in annual exploration investment by 2025 – and $13 billion in exports by 2030.

Round 3 funding opens on 26 November 2021.

Advancing exploration techniques and innovation

Deputy Premier and Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the ADI plays an important role in maintaining South Australia’s international leadership in mineral exploration development.

“We expect to receive a high level of interest during round three, with a funding of up to $3 million reflecting the global significance of ADI and the calibre of proposals,” he said.

“ADI is Australia’s most diverse exploration co-funding program, offering support for traditional drilling and geophysics, as well as other non-conventional exploration techniques, frontier logistics support, technology and research innovation.

“With a heavy emphasis on new technologies, scientific endeavour, and upskilling, to boost discovery while reducing risk, ADI reflects the changing drivers in exploration.

“Successful projects will bolster activities and support innovative technologies to generate and test new exploration ideas and increase new datasets to help accelerate data sharing between entities within the exploration sector.

“In additional to innovative exploration programs, ADI initiatives have fostered meaningful employment and upskilling of Aboriginal employees and businesses.

Similar programs return $10 for each $1 spent  

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) CEO Warren Pearce said the association called for an extension and increase to the ADI in its 2022 South Australian Election Policy Platform.

“Reviews of similar co-funded programs in Western Australia have found that for every $1 invested, the community gets at least a $10 return – that’s a significant multiplier for a Government program,” he said.

“With mineral exploration expenditure at $28M in the last quarter, and a 62% increase in the number of exploration licence applications received in FY20/21 from the previous year, this is a timely and opportune announcement.

“The ADI has become a well-subscribed initiative, driving investment into geophysics, the testing of new technologies, and greenfield drilling, and is a program that keeps South Australia on the cutting edge of mineral exploration.”

Barton gets the benefits of innovative exploration

The ADI also has a focus on supporting innovative technologies, collaboration and new exploration concepts to fast-track mineral exploration across South Australia.

One beneficiary of the program to date is Barton Gold (ASX:BGD), and managing director and CEO Alexander Scanlon says the ADI has allowed the company to accelerate its innovation-driven exploration approach to the central Gawler Craton.

“ADI facilitated a trial of deep ground penetrating radar (GPR) in the region and early results are compelling,” he said.

“The technique has not only found over 25 shallow new structures, but also their orientation, giving us clear, shallow targets for precise, high-efficiency and low-cost drill testing.

“We are looking at an order of magnitude gain in cost and time to target delineation, acquiring these targets for less than $200,000 over a 1–2 month period, versus $2-3 million of drilling over a 1-2 year period of time.”

Plus, the results are shared publicly – which could help other explorers unlock new discoveries.