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Unlocking the potential of central-west Australia

4 March 2021

New groundwater, energy and mineral resources will be unlocked across Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory as part of the next phase of the Australian Government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt has announced the Officer Basin and Musgrave Province will be the focus of one of three deep-dive projects Geoscience Australia will undertake over the next four years.

“Geoscience Australia will conduct stratigraphic drilling along a large seismic line within Officer Basin and analyse new and existing geophysical, geochemical, geochronological and hydrogeological data to better understand the petroleum and groundwater potential of the region,” Minister Pitt said. 

“Geoscience Australia will also find new ways of mapping paleovalleys – ancient riverbeds buried by younger sediment – and groundwater in the Musgrave Province. 

“These regions heavily rely on groundwater resources for communities, agriculture, energy and mineral resource development and this project will support water resilience in these areas. 

“The insights gained will drive new investment in the resources and agricultural sector and fuel Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery.”

Geoscience Australia will embark on eight projects over the next four years as part of the next phase of the Exploring for the Future program. 

This includes three deep-dive projects in the geological regions of Officer-Musgrave in central Australia, Darling-Curnamona-Delamerian in south-east Australia and Barkly-Isa-Georgetown in the north-east.  

Based on their geology, Geoscience Australia chose these areas from two potentially resource-rich corridors identified in the east and west of Australia last year.

It also includes three continental-scale projects that have national applications but with a focus in southern Australia; and two program-support projects.

Minister Pitt said these projects will build on the success of the first stage of the Exploring for the Future program – which delivered a detailed picture of potential resources across more than three million square kilometres of northern Australia from 2016 to 2020.

“As it has done over the last four years, Exploring for the Future is expected to create short, medium and long-term jobs in the resources sector, and to play a key role in Australia’s gas-fired recovery,” Minister Pitt said. 

“We have already seen the value of the geological data from the first stage of the Exploring for the Future program, with more than 20 resource companies taking up new investments in over 120,000 square kilometres of exploration acreage across Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“Unlocking new resource-rich regions will provide ongoing economic and employment growth to local communities and the nation.

“Independent analysis of the first stage of the program from ACIL Allen Consulting found it could drive up to $2.5 billion in economic benefits and jobs in northern Australia,” Minister Pitt said.

More information on the Exploring for the Future program, including a map of the new projects, is available at https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf

Media contacts: Minister Pitt's office 02 6277 7180