The Sustainable Geoscience Investments package, included in the 2023-24 state budget, will address the growing demand for critical minerals, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, rare earths and manganese.The bulk of the funding, or $16.1 million, will be used to increase the Exploration Incentive Scheme and create a new Geophysical Co-funding Program to support better decision-making around land use by excluding ground that shows little or no prospectivity.
Another $6.7 million has been earmarked for an Industry Ready Program to create data analytics packages for key regions and commodities, sponsoring up to three graduates per year to boost their skills by working at the Geological Survey of WA.
A further $6.2 million will be invested in magnetotelluric data acquisition to enable more targeted exploration.
About $3.3 million will be spent to update and optimise core libraries in Carlisle and Kalgoorlie, while $3.7 million will contribute to the redevelopment and improvement of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's (DMIRS) online data services.
The Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia will receive a $4 million boost.
The Sustainable Geoscience Investments package will build on other initiatives to facilitate green energy projects, such as the Green Energy Assessment Unit, Future Battery Industry Strategy, diversification leases for large scale renewable energy projects, and sustained investment in hydrogen.
"The transition to clean energy represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for WA as economies around the world seek to secure their critical minerals supply chains," WA premier Mark McGowan said.
"No other Australian state comes close to matching our commitment to minerals and energy exploration, and WA continues to lead the pack by some distance.
"This major investment into geoscience builds on the strong foundation of our world-leading resources sector, paving the way for growth in a low-carbon future."
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce welcomed the news and said it sent a strong message to investors, project developers and researchers, that WA was serious about propelling its critical minerals potential to meet net zero targets.