WA Government adds funding for 42 exploration projects

The Western Australian Government has committed a further $4.75 million to the exploration incentive scheme’s (EIS) co-funded drilling program.

Forty-two projects will share in the new funding, which will be round 14 of the initiative, the state government announced.

The co-funded drilling program refunds up to 50 per cent of drilling costs with limits of $150,000 for a multi-hole project, $200,000 for a single deep hole and $30,000 for a prospector’s project.

Refunds occur after completion of drilling and the submission of reports, which are made public by the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum after six months.

WA mines and petroleum minister Sean L’Estrange said the competitive drilling program, heading into its ninth year, provided companies with added incentive to drill in underexplored regions. It has already resulted in a number of significant discoveries, he added.

“Among the success stories is the Nova discovery east of Northam, supported by EIS geophysics data and co-funding in 2011-12, with production having commenced in November this year,” L’Estrange said.

Other EIS discoveries include the Camelwood nickel deposit, Yeneena copper deposit, Millenium zinc project, the Dusk Til Dawn gold discoveries, deep gold at Gruyere and the nickel discovery at Emily Ann.

Association of Mining & Exploration Companies (AMEC) chief executive Simon Bennison said the program was highly regarded by industry and had provided co-funding for more than 630 projects.

“Independent research has also highlighted the value the program provides to the State with every $1 million invested in the EIS program generating $10.3 million in direct benefits for the state,” Bennison said.

“Sourcing capital is challenging in the current market conditions where investors are risk adverse and not investing in exploration. Continuation of the program is essential to enable these companies to continue exploring and making new mineral discoveries such as the Nova nickel at Fraser Ranger and Gruyere, east of Laverton.”

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith also welcomed the funding commitment, saying higher levels of exploration drilling in the state were encouraging.

“Without ongoing investment in exploration activities many resources would remain undiscovered, stifling the growth and prosperity of the sector and the economy into the future, risking employment, investment and government revenue,” Howard-Smith said.

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