Additional funding 2013-14

What is Geoscience Australia?

Geoscience Australia assists the Government and the community it serves to make appropriate and informed decisions about the use of resources, the management of the environment, community safety and protection of critical infrastructure.

Geoscience Australia does this by undertaking geoscientific research and maintaining, developing and enabling access to fundamental geoscientific and geospatial data. Geoscience Australia also provides vital services to Australia including global positioning, natural hazard monitoring and earth observation infrastructure.

What has the Government decided?

The Government has augmented Geoscience Australia’s funding by $34 million in 2013-14 and $40 million per annum thereafter.

This increased funding will enable Geoscience Australia to:

  • Create the pre-competitive data that industry relies on to secure Australia’s energy and mineral resources investment pipeline ($26 million per annum);
  • Enhance economic productivity and innovation by ensuring that geological and geospatial information is captured and made freely available to industry, government, academia and the public ($5 million in 2013-14,  $8 million per annum from 2014-15);
  • Sustain its provision of vital services such as earthquake and tsunami monitoring, global positioning and earth observation from space, and continue its important contribution to evidence-based decision making on natural hazards and management of groundwater ($3 million in 2013-14, $6 million per annum from 2014-15).

What is pre-competitive data acquisition?

Pre-competitive data acquisition involves the gathering of geological and geophysical data, and analysis of that data to define the geology of basins and regions to identify areas with prospectivity for energy and mineral resources.

Why is the Government funding pre-competitive data acquisition?

A strategic review of Geoscience Australia, delivered in 2011, identified that government provision of pre-competitive information was a successful way to attract investment in resources exploration.

Governments undertake such work because it creates a prospectus for the nation’s resources and lowers exploration risk by identifying those areas most likely to contain resources. This prospectus attracts companies to invest and undertake their own more detailed studies to identify energy and mineral resources.

The resources sector makes a vast contribution to Australia’s export earnings, and a substantial contribution to GDP, employment, government revenues, exploration expenditure and capital expenditure on new projects, including infrastructure. The sector’s export performance is critical to the long-term maintenance of Australia’s current account position and the strength of the economy.

Resources investment also generates a range of regional economic and social benefits including community development, infrastructure and job creation and, in a number of cases contributes to the emergence of sustainable indigenous communities. Resources sector economic activity accounted for $190 billion in exports and 7.4% of GDP in 2010-11 and 249,700 jobs in February 2012, most of which were based in regional Australia.

What will this additional funding deliver for the energy industry?

The Government’s recently released Energy White Paper identifies the important role that conventional and unconventional gas will play in Australia’s future energy mix.

This investment will deliver a prospectus of the energy resource potential of Australia's largely un-explored offshore and onshore frontiers. Geoscience Australia will consult with industry to prioritise the 38 offshore basins which have hydrocarbon potential.

The offshore program will allow full basin analysis for a range of geophysical datasets, seafloor mapping and sampling of sediments and biota. This work provides the data for a comprehensive petroleum systems analysis as well as baseline environmental data that can support improvements to regulatory processes, including reductions in 'green tape'.

What will this additional funding deliver for the minerals industry?

The Australian nonferrous mineral exploration sector is far less competitive on a global scale than it was in the 1990s. This is illustrated by the decline in Australia’s share of global nonferrous mineral exploration investment from around 20% in the 1990s to 12% today.

Using this additional funding, Geoscience Australia will seek to reveal the hidden potential of 'undercover' minerals. These undercover areas, which have not been extensively explored, occur where an existing mineral bearing province extends underneath a layer of other material. They will provide substantial greenfields areas for future exploration.

The work, which will be undertaken in collaboration with state and territory geological surveys and the research community, will involve a systematic drilling program to test geological models and to identify key indicators which point to mineral resource potential in the subsurface.

What benefits will come from better data custodianship?

Geoscience Australia houses one of the world’s largest collections of geological and geospatial data. Almost all of this data is made freely available to industry, researchers, governments and the broader community.

The volume of scientific data being created is increasing exponentially, and it is increasingly being distributed in real-time to mobile devices. Advances in technology have also created new ways in which data can be accessed, processed and used. High Performance Computing and the National Broadband Network will make it possible to process greater volumes of data to higher resolution in shorter timeframes.

Geoscience Australia will use the new funding to ensure the data it holds is ready for use with these new techniques which are increasingly being used to support natural hazard modelling, environmental management, resources exploration and the broader innovation agenda.

What other aspects of Geoscience Australia’s work will benefit from this funding?

This boost in funding to Geoscience Australia is evidence of the Government's commitment to science and evidence based decision making. It will enable Geoscience Australia to continue advising governments, industry, researchers and the community in the fields of:

  • Natural hazards and community safety, including support for the National Work Program for Flood Mapping, and operation of the Australian Tsunami Warning System and Sentinel bushfire monitoring system.
  • Groundwater management, including developing national groundwater science expertise and scientific assessments that support responsible resource development.
  • Clean energy, including geothermal and carbon capture and storage technology.
  • Geoscience infrastructure, including the national Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) network, which enables the high precision positioning that is a vital input to industries including mining, agriculture, aviation, transport, shipping, and construction.
  • Earth Observation from Space, including satellite imagery that supports monitoring of changes in the Australian landscape over time to support environmental management.