WA gov’t invests $40m in critical minerals to drive energy transition

Image credit: Western Australian Government

The McGowan Government announced a $40 million investment to accelerate critical mineral discoveries, ensuring Western Australia is well-positioned to capitalise on economic opportunities as the world strives towards a net zero future. 

The Sustainable Geoscience Investments package, which is part of the State Budget for 2023-24, responds to the rising demand for essential minerals used in solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy storage systems, among other cutting-edge technology.

The investment also hopes to expand on its previous accomplishments and speed up resource discoveries in WA through programs including a $16.1 million boost to the Exploration Incentive Scheme to increase greenfield exploration and create a new Geophysical Co-funding Program (GCP).

Up to $6.7 million will be used to develop data analytics packages for important areas and commodities through the Industry Ready Program (IRP). 

Three graduates may get sponsorship from the IRP each year in order to hone their talents while working for the Geological Survey of Western Australia, the government said.

Magnetotelluric data collecting will cost $6.2 million, enabling more focused research, and when paired with the passive seismic data being gathered by the ongoing WA Array project of the McGowan Government, the data will be especially potent, said the government.

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

The premier noted that the investment in geoscience strengthens the base of Australia’s globally renowned resources sector and paves the road for growth in a low-carbon future.

He added that the 2023-24 State Budget implements the WA Jobs Plan, assisting in the diversification of the WA economy and the creation of new jobs in the future.

Commenting on the multi-million investment, Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said accelerating exploration activities is critical to the state’s long-term economic prosperity, emphasising that the funding will assist the industry in making WA’s next big discovery.

“We need to keep providing high-quality data for resource exploration to help maintain our global reputation as a proven investment partner,” Minister Johnston said.

“WA’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,” he added.