Ensuring Australia’s mining future

Australian Academy of Science, Media releases

Australian Academy of Science media release

AAS 1/11

Sixty of Australia’s big-thinking young geoscientists have identified how to ensure this country continues to be a powerhouse of mining for at least the next century.

The report of a Think Tank on the future of resource discovery and utilisation held at the Australian Academy of Science late last year was launched by the Minister for Resources and Energy, The Hon Martin Ferguson, today at the Shine Dome in Gordon Street, Canberra at 3 pm.

‘In order to maintain Australia’s economic wellbeing, we need to do something that has never been done before. We need to map Australia’s sub-surface to the depth of 500 metres,’ says Chair of the Think Tank’s Organising Committee Dr Phil McFadden.

Most of Australia’s great mines have been found from rock outcrops on the surface of the Earth.

Australia is an old continent, so most of its remaining mineral wealth is masked by a thick cover of weathered rock, sediment and soil. The report outlines a set of initiatives to ‘see through’ that material to the ore deposits beneath.

‘We have literally only scratched the surface of Australia’s mineral resources,’ says Dr Jon Hronsky, Director of Western Mining Services and Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Exploration Targeting in Western Australia. ‘A few tens of millions of dollars of coordinated research and mapping could reveal hundreds of billions of dollars of potential new mines.’

‘We know more about the surface of Mars than we do of the earth beneath our feet,’ Dr Hronsky says. ‘But today the technology exists to look beneath the surface and find the next Olympic Dam. It’s not just about discovering mineral deposits; it’s also about finding great mines that will last a hundred years.’

If the initiatives proposed in the report are implemented, they will achieve much more than the discovery of a new generation of world class mines, the earth scientists say. They will also plot Australia’s deep groundwater resources, identify potential sources of geothermal energy, improve earthquake prediction across the continent, lead to the development of new technologies and expertise that will be deployable worldwide, and establish Australia as a world leader in deep earth science.

The report with its recommendations is available at www.science.org.au/events/thinktank/thinktank2010/index.html.

Contact: Mona Akbari, Australian Academy of Science on (02) 6201 9452, 0447 679 612, mona.akbari@science.org.au