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9 October 2000
Geoscience Australia's assessment of national mineral resources released today
Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2000 (AIMR 2000) provides a nation-wide assessment of the ore reserves and mineral resources base for all major and a number of minor mineral commodities mined in Australia, Warren Entsch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, said today.
"AIMR 2000, produced by Geoscience Australia, is the only mineral resource assessment for the whole of Australia," Mr Entsch said.
"The publication provides the Government, industry, investment sector and general community with an authoritative and important understanding of Australia's known mineral endowment and level of exploration activity as we enter the 21st century.
"National assessments of this type are also assuming greater global significance.
"Issues concerning cost-effective and cleaner mining and resource stewardship strategies are starting to receive closer international attention."
The report confirms that Australia continues to rank as one of the world's leading mineral resource nations.
"AIMR 2000 shows that Australia has the world's largest reserves of zinc, lead, silver, mineral sands, nickel, tantalum and uranium," Mr Entsch said.
"And compared to 1998, it is pleasing to see that reserves of bauxite, gold, iron and manganese ores and diamond have either increased or were essentially unchanged."
The report shows that the depletion in reserves of copper, black and brown coal, lead, lithium, silver, uranium and zinc was due mainly to ongoing production, with commodity prices a subsidiary factor.
The report also shows exploration expenditure decreased to $837.8 million in 1998-1999, a decline of 21 per cent from previous years.
"The decline in exploration expenditure has been mainly due to lower commodity prices, and is consistent with the general expenditure decline worldwide," Mr Entsch said.
"Australia has however managed to marginally increase its share of worldwide expenditure on exploration, attracting a total of 18.7 per cent of global mining investment in 1999.
"This is an increase of 17.5 per cent from 1998 figures.
"The report confirms the growing international recognition of Australia as a source of new mineral deposits and prime location for investment opportunity.
"In turn this is likely to have a positive impact on exploration in this country."
Much exploration will look for extensions of known mineral districts under shallow cover and is likely to be directed at major mineral provinces - Yilgarn, Mount Isa, Lachlan Fold Belt, Broken Hill-Olary and emerging provinces like the Tanami-Arunta and Murray Basin.
These programs will draw on pre-competitive geoscientific data provided by Federal, State and Northern Territory governments.
The Federal Government, through its Regional Minerals Program, is also keen to continue to identify and support new opportunities for downstream mineral processing in prospective mineral regions across Australia.
For national assessment purposes, ore reserves are formally classified as economic demonstrated resources. This classification requires a high degree of assurance from geological assessment and confidence that mining is economically feasible.
AIMR 2000 includes a reduced version of a map of Australia's major mineral deposits and related population infrastructure. The map, produced by Geoscience Australia for the Minerals Council of Australia, summarises a range of information relating to mineral deposits and major mineral commodities.
AIMR 2000 is available from the our Sales Centre.
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