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WA funding to boost greenfield exploration

GREENFIELDS exploration in Western Australia will be boosted by state government funding to assist companies with drilling, according to the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.

Jack McGinn
WA funding to boost greenfield exploration

The 10th round of the state’s ongoing exploration incentive scheme (EIS) was allocated to 41 companies yesterday and will provide them with a total $A4.69 million worth of co-funding for drilling initiatives.

The program will refund up to 50% of direct drilling costs, with caps of $150,000 for multi-hole projects, $200,000 for a single deep hole and $30,000 for a prospector’s project.

AMEC chief executive Simon Bennison said continued funding was a positive step to ensuring more greenfields were explored.

“Programs such as the EIS are essential to stimulate investment in greenfields mineral exploration which has been declining in favour of brownfields for more than a decade,” he said.

“In the September 2003 quarter, 46% of total metres drilled were on new deposits. In the September 2014 quarter, just 24% of total metres drilled were on new deposits.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ September 2014 quarter results for Mineral and Petroleum Exploration in Australia show drilling in areas of new deposits rose 28.5% from the June 2014 quarter.

“Whilst any increase is positive, investment in greenfields is still historically low.”

However, Bennison warned the government not to take steps which would undo the work of the EIS.

“To ensure initiatives such as the EIS are successful in increasing exploration, the state government must not increase royalty rates, fees or charges,” he said.

“The government should instead focus on improving timeframes and reducing duplications across all approvals processes.”

Commodity royalty rises were foreshadowed in May’s state budget.

Recipients of the current round of EIS funding include: Atlas Iron for work at Corunna Downs; Gold Fields at St Ives; Gold Road Resources at Gruyere and Minnie Hill; Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines at Fimiston South (the Super Pit); Northern Star Resources at Jundee and Zuleika; Panoramic Resources at East Kimberley; and Rox Resources at Fisher East.

The initiative is in its sixth year, with the state government committing a further $10 million per year until 2017.

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