Labor leader Bill Shorten has pledged to invest $75 million in the discovery of mining resources should he win the upcoming federal election.
The investment aims to counter Liberals’ decision to halt funding for the ‘Exploring the Future’ program, which plans to use advanced technology to discover prospective deposits using underground maps.
Given that approximately two-thirds of Australia’s potential mineral deposits remain undiscovered, Shorten said that investing in discovering materials such as lithium would assist in the growth of renewable energy.
“We want to ensure Australian mines are powering the commodities of the future – such as lithium – as we build the renewable energy economy,” he said.
“Labor wants lithium batteries to be made domestically, seeing potential in the industry that will store renewable energy and power electric cars and smartphones.”
The investment in Geoscience Australia’s ‘Exploring the Future’ initiative will fund vital data acquisition using geophysical surveys, geochemical sampling, hydrological mapping and stratigraphic drilling.
The data is analysed and distributed allowing a comprehensive outlook of Australia’s mineral, energy and groundwater resources – allowing companies to expand commercial opportunities and create more jobs.
Minerals Council Australia (MCA) embraced the announcement, highlighting the integral role the mining sector contributes to the Australian economy.
“Australian mining and minerals processing is the nation’s largest source of export revenue and provides highly paid, highly skilled jobs to thousands of workers in regional communities,” MCA chief executive officer Tania Constable said.
“Commitments like those announced today are consistent with MCA’s…plan for the minerals sector to continue to invest and grow with confidence, supporting regional communities and a more prosperous Australia.”
The opposition leader, who is in Perth today, also pledged to make the South West region of Western Australia a “renewable energy zone”.
As it stands, 7.5 per cent of the area’s energy is from renewables, however Labor wants to significantly increase this contribution.
Shorten’s announcement comes ahead of the first leaders’ debate to be held in Perth tonight.