The Northern Territory government has announced a round of exploration grants which will assist ten projects through the region.
Mines and Energy minister David Tollner said $850,000 will be paid to nine companies for 10 different exploration projects.
Companies to benefit from the funding under round eight of the Geophysics and Drilling Collaboration program are Emmerson Resources, Cameco Australia, Areva Resources, Core Exploration, Rockland Resources, Pacifico Minerals, Teck Australia, MMG Exploration and Tom Oates.
The funding represents 50 per cent of the drilling and geophysics costs of projects focussed on gold, base metals, uranium, manganese, zinc and petroleum.
Tollner said exploration activities were crucial to development of mineral deposits to underpin the Territory’s future economy.
“Some sectors of the resources industry are facing challenges at the moment, but it’s still a major employer of Territorians and will be one of the long-term drivers of our future prosperity,” Mr Tollner said.
“These grants give companies an incentive to get out there and discover what resources the Territory can count on in the future.”
All data from the program will become available to the public six months after completion of field work for the benefit of all explorers wanting to operate in the Territory.
Environment Centre NT (ECNT) expressed dissatisfaction with the support of uranium explorers Areva and Cameco.
ECNT spokesperson Lauren Mellor said Cameco was under investigation from the Canadian tax agency for $800 million in tax avoidance and that the company was “heavily criticised for incompetency by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission”.
“Public money should be spent in the public interest, not to fund the reckless corporate activities of global uranium companies or to prop up its failing sector,” she said.
“Both these giant multinational companies have been shown to repeatedly fail to operate in the public interest at home, and are now seeking to benefit from the misguided largesse of the NT Mines Minister at Australian tax payers expense.
“If established producers like Rio Tinto cannot make a profit from the struggling uranium sector, and companies like Areva with a government subsidised monopoly in France are near bankrupt, how can the NT Government possibly justify injecting yet more public money into subsidising the exploration activities of this dying industry?”