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Australian Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt has announced that junior mineral explorers can apply to access substantial exploration incentives from mid-July under the $100 million Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive (JMEI).

The JMEI scheme opens for applications from July 16 and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis until available funds are exhausted.

In May, Pitt announced a four-year extension of the incentive as part of the 2021-22 Budget to ensure jobs for future generations of miners.

“The JMEI encourages new investment in small minerals exploration companies to help them make the discoveries needed to lock in the long-term future of Australia’s resources sector,” Pitt said.

“The incentive will help ensure Australia has a continuous investment pipeline for development across regional Australia.”

Pitt said the latest figures show the resources sector directly employs more than 270,000 Australian men and women, with most of these jobs in regional Australia.

“Australia’s junior explorers are crucial to the exploration and discovery of new mineral resources, including critical minerals, which will drive Australian exports and support our long-term economic prosperity,” Pitt said.

“The resources and energy sector delivered a record $310 billion in exports in 2020/21 and the government wants to make sure the industry can continue to make a significant economic contribution for the benefit of all Australians.”

According to a government statement, the extension brings total investment in the JMEI to $200 million and builds on the existing suite of Australian Government support for discovery of new mineral deposits, including the $225 million Exploring for the Future Program run by Geoscience Australia.

The JMEI is administered by the Australian Tax Office. Application details for the 2021-22 round can be found on the ATO webpage.

According to the Australian Government, future mining employment will be limited without further exploration activities.

The JMEI has supported 85 junior mining companies since it was first introduced in 2018.