WA govt dishes out $37m for mineral exploration and AgTech

Brandon How

The Western Australian government will announce $37 million in funding for mineral exploration and AgTech as part of the state budget next Thursday.

The state government will commmit $12 million over four years to a WA-Array seismic survey which will search for minerals deeper than most existing mineral deposits. A grid of 165 seismometers in intervals of 40 kilometres will be moved each year to map the entirety of Western Australia over 10 years.

The state government on Monday also announced $25 million will be spent over three years to establish a Western Australian Agricultural Collaboration (WAAC). Focusing on research and capability development, the collaboration is between the state Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, CSIRO, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and Murdoch University.

Western Australian Minister for Food and Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan

According to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan, research will focus on challenges faced by the state including managing the drying climate, increasing productivity, and reducing carbon emissions. It will also support doctorate students, create postgraduate positions, and provide early career pathways for researchers.

Ms MacTiernan said the collaboration would improve the research capabilities of the state.

“The WAAC delivers on our commitment to rebuilding Western Australia’s agricultural research and development capabilities. It will bring together leading WA research institutions to define a new collective research approach to agriculture in WA to grow our research quality, capacity, careers and foster collaborations inside and outside of WA,” Ms MacTiernan.

“Ongoing research and development is crucial to ensuring our agriculture and food sector can continue to deliver economic benefits and local jobs for Western Australians. A key focus will be to invest in the next generation of leading scientists through doctorates, postgraduate placements, and early career opportunities for emerging scientists.”

“WA agricultural research will now have a real opportunity to get back a fair share of grower funds and ensure research that is designed to meet the geographic and market conditions in WA.”

After the seismic survey data is assessed, it will be made available for free to resource explorers, researchers, and the public.

Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston said that the project will greatly boost the state economy and help digitalise the mining sector.

“The WA-Array program will help unlock a new generation of resource discoveries that will create more jobs and potentially billions of dollars of economic benefits for WA. It will digitally transform and supercharge the State’s mining industry – helping to attract investment and support even more local jobs for Western Australians,” Mr Johnson said.

“The global transition to clean energy presents significant opportunities, which is why the McGowan Government is working hard to invest in and attract new industries to WA. Battery and critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel face ever increasing demand, so we need to keep supporting the search for the mines of tomorrow.”

The upcoming WA budget is expected by credit rating agency S&P to include a surplus of $7.92 billion for the period 2021-22, while the state government anticipates a $2.8 billion surplus. This is off the back of a record $5.6 billion surplus in the period 2021-22.

Policies already announced as part of the budget include $6.5 million for the space sector and $8.65 million to implement the Health and Medical Life Sciences Industry Strategy.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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