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The Western Australian Government has announced the latest recipients of its Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) co-funded drilling program, with $6.35 million awarded to 51 WA exploration projects.

A total of 73 per cent of the prospective drilling projects will be exploring nickel potential while 35 per cent will be searching for battery minerals.

The battery commodities honoured by the grants include manganese, lithium, tantalum, rare earth elements and cobalt.

The EIS encourages innovative exploration in greenfields and under-explored areas of Western Australia.

The initiative first began in 2009 and in 2019 the EIS received ongoing funding of $10 million per year.

In August, the WA Government increased its contribution to the EIS by $2.5 million, elevating funding from $10 million to $12.5 million.

As part of the WA Recovery Plan, the EIS received a one-off funding of $5 million in 2020-21, which temporarily increased the scheme’s budget from $10 million to $15 million at the time.

Applications have continued to increase across the lifespan of the EIS, and a recent independent study, covering the first 10 years of the initiative, reiterated the robust economic benefits it provides, with every dollar invested resulting in a $31 return.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the EIS is a proven incentive for aspiring miners.

“The race to find battery minerals underscores the McGowan Government’s goal to position WA as a global powerhouse in the export of future battery minerals and materials,” he said.

“The EIS has supported a number of major discoveries, with each of them increasing the odds of opening new mines and creating jobs.

“Rapidly changing technology means we now have greater knowledge and tools to find out more from existing samples in our core libraries.”

The next round of the EIS opens on February 7, 2022.