Most of Australia's easily-accessible deposits of base and precious metals have been discovered and mined already, and today a new report from mining organisation AMIRA International says Australia needs to beef up its geoscience, technology and infrastructure to get to deposits our continent is hiding deep down.
The AMIRA International Roadmap for Under Cover Exploration: Unlocking Australia's Mineral Wealth details a 15 year roadmap that AMIRA says will "fundamentally transform" our ability to find non-bulk mineral resources such as copper and gold under the majority of Australia's landmass.
"Mining continues to be a major contributor to the nation's GDP, with over $29 billion contributed during 2015-16," said Joe Cucuzza, Managing Director of AMIRA International.
"The sector also generated 50 per cent of the nation's export earnings. The need for minerals will increase as renewable energy generation, electric and autonomous cars and consumer technologies all require huge amounts of these minerals."
Cucuzza says Australia is likely to have "significant undiscovered wealth" hidden away beneath the covered areas of our continent.
The Roadmap was developed to progress the vision of the "Uncover Australia" initiative, established by the Australian Academy of Science in 2012.
Academy Fellow and Chair of Uncover Australia, Dr Phil McFadden, said Australian and international minerals companies are moving their exploration investments offshore because they have already discovered most of the economically-viable deposits in the 30 per cent of Australia's land-mass where they occur near the surface.
"The challenge now is to develop the scientific knowledge and the new technologies that are necessary to increase the chances of finding economic deposits in the 70 per cent of Australia that is covered by moderate or deep sediment," Dr McFadden said.
Dr McFadden says the demand for base and precious metals is increasing rapidly.
"We're likely to have trillions of dollars of viable deposits of these minerals, and by investing in the science needed to find them, Australia has the opportunity to re-establish itself as a world leader in minerals exploration and ensure strong economic growth for our future."
The AMIRA International Roadmap is the result of three years of extensive consultation with minerals companies large and small, METS (mining equipment, technology and services) suppliers, Federal, State and Territory Geological Surveys, CSIRO and Universities.
It was supported by 53 organisations coordinated by AMIRA International and launched this morning at Parliament House in Canberra by West Australian Senator Linda Reynolds (representing the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) and Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.