Exploring for the Future: 2020–2024
The Australian Government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program is committed to supporting a strong economy, resilient society and sustainable environment for the benefit of Australians. At its heart, the program is about stimulating industry now to ensure a sustainable, long-term future for Australia through an improved understanding of the nation’s minerals, energy and groundwater resource potential. By gathering and analysing geological and geophysical data and making the results publicly available, the program supports regional development and informed decision making across Australia, resulting in jobs and growth.
Minerals, including critical minerals, are vital for producing modern materials and technologies such as electric cars, wind turbines and mobile phones – improving our productivity and lifestyle and reducing our environmental footprint. This program is bringing forward new mineral discoveries to maintain and diversify the pipeline of mineral projects so the Australian mining industry remains a global powerhouse and secures supply for Australian manufacturing.
Alternative energy resources help us lower our carbon emissions and continue the move to renewable energy. To support this transition, the program seeks to improve the supply of gas in the immediate term and kick start the hydrogen economy while also securing supplies of liquid fuel.
Groundwater is a critical intergenerational resource for Australia, providing drinking water to millions of people in cities, towns and small communities, supporting billions of dollars of economic activity each year and sustaining our natural environment. The program seeks to improve management of this resource to support future water security across the country.
The 2020-2024 program is currently focused on eight interrelated projects, united in growing our understanding of subsurface geology. They include three deep-dive projects in potentially resource-rich corridors identified in the east and west of Australia; three continental-scale projects that have national applications with a focus on southern Australia; and two program-support projects. The projects are undertaken in collaboration with Commonwealth, state, territory and university partners, and leverage the capabilities of Australia’s world-leading Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector.
This deep-dive project is delivering new data and knowledge to assess mineral and groundwater potential and support water management across western New South Wales and Victoria, eastern South Australia and northwest Tasmania.
This deep-dive project is investigating the groundwater and energy potential of the Officer Basin and neighbouring Musgrave Province near the junction of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
This deep-dive project is delivering new data and knowledge to assess the mineral and energy potential in undercover regions between Tennant Creek, Mount Isa and Georgetown, maximising opportunities for the resources sector in the region.
Australia’s Resources Framework
This continental-scale project is laying the foundations for a national view of Australia’s surface and subsurface geology, underpinning our understanding of the continent’s mineral, energy and groundwater potential.
National Groundwater Systems
This continental-scale project is improving understanding of Australia’s groundwater resources to better support responsible groundwater management and secure groundwater resources into the future.
Australia’s Future Energy Resources
This continental-scale project is evaluating the potential for new energy commodities hosted within sedimentary basins, including oil, natural gas and hydrogen, to support Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Enhanced Data Delivery
This project is supporting the program in digital transformation and data infrastructure, building on the robust and flexible systems developed during the first four years of the program.
Geoscience Knowledge Sharing
This project is supporting the program in enhancing and establishing relationships with our diverse stakeholders, building a step-change in our engagement with the communities where the program operates, including remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, farmers and rural towns.
Australia and the north is a land rich in mineral resources. These resources have supported Australia's resilient economy for the last century, but over the last decade resource discovery has not kept pace with extraction and our share of international exploration expenditure has been in decline.
Australia is a vast continent which is largely under-explored in many regions. Large areas have poorly distributed data; some areas are completely untested for their resource potential. In addition, a large amount of onshore data is old and of poor quality.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent and the highest per capita user of water. As such, the Groundwater Sector plays a critical role in national water security. Groundwater represents 17 per cent of available fresh water within Australia and is essential for providing increased supply during periods of drought for agriculture and community consumption in many parts of the country.