Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia.
Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia.

$125 million boost for green energy efforts

The future of North Queensland's green energy manufacturing has been solidified with a multimillion-dollar boost to expand mineral exploration.

Already worth $100 million, Geoscience Australia's Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program was handed an additional $125 million in federal funding to expand the geoscientific program and map the geological structures for a better understanding of our mineral, energy and groundwater systems.

Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said the Australian resources sector would continue to "underpin the wealth of the Australian economy for decades".

"Even though Australia is known for its world-class mineral resources sector, over 80 per cent of Australia is still underexplored," he said.

"We are confident of the long term impacts of the existing program, with independent analysis of the first half of the program, indicating it could deliver just over $2.5 billion in economic benefits and jobs in Northern Australia.

"More than ever before, we need the resources and agriculture sectors to be growing and helping lead our economic recovery following COVID-19."

The federal funding comes in addition to the Queensland Government mineral exploration program announced at the end of 2019, worth $13.8 million.

Targeting the North West Mineral Province, the five year package is comprised of $4.8 million to re-examine old mine tailings and core samples for new age minerals, $9 million to unearth more and better geological information to help industry identify new projects, including $3.5 million in industry grants over five years for new and innovative exploration activities. Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said the future of North Queensland jobs was held in manufacturing driven on the back of mineral exploration.

"We (State Government) just announced 14.8 million for the copper stream project so we want to see cheaper electricity for our North West Province," Mr Harper said.

"For the battery manufacturing proposed plant in Townsville we're backing it in with a $3.1 million feasibility study, we've just upgraded and spent $5 million into the Lansdown Industrial Precinct and that's to see those jobs generated but those jobs and the battery manufacturing won't happen unless we're exploring and getting the rare earth minerals out of the ground."

Mr Harper also responded to recent "cheap shots" by the leader of Katter's Australian Party, who labelled Townsville's three state MP's as "lazy and complacent" for their handling of Glencore's announcement to merge its zinc and copper management operations. He said the Queensland Government had been in negotiations with Glencore in relation to its smelter and "a number of issues" but refused to comment on specifics as it was commercial in confidence.

"So I think cheap shots to say we're lazy or complacent yet whenever I look over my right shoulder in the chamber I see three empty seats, these Katter boys they go missing in action," he said.

"We're there for every piece of legislation to vote on it so enough of the cheap shots and join us in our Unite and Recover project and we'll continue to back North Queensland as we've done from day one."

Originally published as $125 million boost for green energy efforts


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