There has never been a more important time to secure Australia’s economic growth and create new jobs. Historically, the resources, water and agriculture sectors have contributed significantly to both our economic prosperity and level of employment. In 2018–19, they accounted for 11% of Australia’s GDP, contributing $330 billion of export, were the country’s largest regional employers, and reported the highest proportion of Indigenous employees compared to any other employment sector in Australia. On top of all this, the sectors are vital to ensuring our energy, water and food needs are met, and to transitioning to a low-emissions, high-tech future.
Australia's current resource prosperity comes from discoveries and developments made decades ago in geologically well-known and well-explored areas. It can take anywhere from 5–10 (or more) years for a new resource to go from discovery to development. Geoscience Australia plays an important role in resource development by developing pre-competitive geoscience data to technically de-risk underexplored ‘greenfield’ areas and encouraging exploration investment.
Investment in exploration—supporting our future
Critical minerals will be essential to Australia’s advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. A single wind turbine requires 3–4 tonnes of copper. The batteries that store the energy generated by that turbine will be built with lithium and cobalt. The many devices we rely on every day—including the one you are on right now—consist of more than 20 metals. Australia can produce these materials to support our own domestic manufacturing sectors and continue to build our export market.
Water is crucial for Australian industries, particularly the agriculture industry. Australia is the driest inhabited continent, making water use and management a key challenge. Reliable water resources are critical for successful and healthy Australian communities, especially in remote areas. Most of the freshwater used across northern Australia comes from groundwater rather than from surface water sources.
In the last few decades, we have more than doubled our groundwater use. Today, groundwater accounts for around one third of Australia’s total water consumption. This need is only going to increase over time as we aim to build our industries, particularly in rural and remote Australia.
Energy—specifically, access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy—will be an ongoing need as we seek to warm or cool our homes, fuel our industries, and transition to a lower carbon economy. In future we will be supported by lower emissions energy sources, like natural gas, to balance energy demand and supply. Australia is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas (LNG), and the resource is one of our most significant export commodities. Australia is also embarking on a journey to become a major exporter of hydrogen by 2030.
Looking to new regions—securing the pipeline
The benefits from resources that we see today are from investments and developments made decades ago. They come from well-known and well-explored areas of Australia. In fact, over 80% of Australia’s current mineral production comes from mines discovered before 1980, where resources are close to the surface.
In Australia, there is a huge, untapped opportunity in areas that are underexplored and unexplored, also known as ‘greenfield’ areas. This includes areas where resources may be buried deep in the ground—areas that span about 80% of Australia's landmass. The challenge is to see through the cover and map the structures and composition of the Earth, in the search for new mineral, energy and groundwater resources.
The Exploring for the Future program was designed to address this challenge. Drawing together data, science and innovative techniques and technology, the program has allowed us to identify a pipeline of exploration projects. This will in turn encourage new investment in greenfield areas by providing security and certainty to our minerals, energy and agriculture sectors about the resource potential. We have utilised the tools that ‘shine a light’ below the surface and into the Earth in innovative and unique ways to reveal new resource exploration and development opportunities.Read less