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Road map points to nation’s future mineral wealth

An industry-sponsored roadmap launched in Perth on July 22, sets out a unified set of priority activities to make a dramatic improvement in greenfields and under cover mineral exploration in Australia for the first time.

Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, and Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion launched the UNCOVER Roadmap outlining the minerals industry’s long-term R&D and new pre-competitive geoscience data needs to help to locate and recover new mineral deposits.

“Most major mineral deposits were discovered and mined decades ago, largely from regions that outcropped. We’ve just about picked all the low hanging fruit, so exploration success is declining over time,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Exploration has become more costly and technically difficult; we need new tools, new data, and new equipment to continue the search more effectively beneath the 80 per cent of the continent that lies under post-mineralised cover. It has been almost four decades since the $1 trillion minerals deposit was discovered under 300 metres of barren cover at tier one Olympic Dam deposit. We need to make the next generation of major, tier one discoveries that add significantly to the economy.”

Mr Marmion said the UNCOVER Roadmap clearly identified 16 high priority research and technology development activities out of 45 focus areas that would boost success for the exploration and geoscience community over the next decade or so.

“The co-ordinators of the roadmap development project, AMIRA International, have a great track record for facilitating collaborative mining industry projects,” Mr Marmion said. “Work by the company in 2005 for the drilling exploration sector laid out a multitude of opportunities for cheaper, safer and smarter ways of going about one of the core activities of minerals exploration.

“This led to the Deep Exploration Technologies CRC, which has been creating commercialised solutions for the drilling industry ever since. The Uncover Roadmap is an outstanding example of the industry collaborating to define the priority research requirements for future minerals exploration for Australia.”