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The Western Australia Government is investing $40 million in the Sustainable Geoscience Investments package to accelerate critical minerals discoveries for its use in low-emission technologies.

The Sustainable Geoscience Investments package, included in the 2023-24 State Budget, addresses the ever-increasing demand for critical minerals used in technologies such as electric vehicles, energy storage and solar panels. The package will also build on other initiatives to facilitate green energy projects, such as the Green Energy Assessment Unit, Future Battery Industry Strategy, Diversification Leases for large scale renewable energy projects, and sustained investment in hydrogen. 

Western Australia currently accounts for half of global lithium production and is a major exporter of nickel, cobalt, manganese and rare earth elements. However, research shows the world’s known reserves of critical minerals cannot meet what will be required in the plethora of low-emission technologies necessary for a net zero future.

The Western Australian Government’s $40 million investment aims to build on its successes to date and to accelerate resource discoveries, with initiatives including:

  • A $16.1 million boost to the Exploration Incentive Scheme to increase greenfield exploration and create a new Geophysical Co-funding Program (GCP). The GCP will support better decision-making around land use by excluding ground that shows little or no prospectivity
  • $6.7 million for an Industry Ready Program (IRP) to create data analytics packages for key regions and commodities. The IRP will also sponsor up to three graduates per year to boost their skills by working at the Geological Survey of Western Australia
  • $6.2 million for magnetotelluric data acquisition to enable more targeted exploration. This data will be particularly powerful when combined with the passive seismic data being collected through the Western Australian Government’s ongoing Western Australia Array project
  • A $4 million boost to the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia to expand research and innovation in net zero and waste reduction projects
  • $3.3 million to update and optimise core libraries in Carlisle and Kalgoorlie, including new bionic lifting equipment
  • $3.7 million to redevelop and improve many of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) online data services

Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “The transition to clean energy represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Western Australia as economies around the world seek to secure their critical minerals supply chains. 

“No other Australian state comes close to matching our commitment to minerals and energy exploration, and Western Australia continues to lead the pack by some distance.

“This major investment into geoscience builds on the strong foundation of our world-leading resources sector, paving the way for growth in a low-carbon future. 

“Our 2023-24 State Budget delivers on the Western Australian Jobs Plan, helping to diversify the Western Australian economy and create new jobs into the future.”

Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “Accelerating exploration activity is crucial to our State’s future economic success, and I am confident this funding will help the industry unearth Western Australia’s next big discovery.

“Western Australia’s resources sector delivered a record $231 billion of sales in 2021-22, and the bedrock of this success was the hard work put in by minerals exploration companies.”

Since the mid-2010s, Western Australia has attracted more than $9 billion of investment for a range of battery and critical minerals projects, including the establishment of globally significant mineral processing facilities.

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