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Rare earths common denominator in funding program

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

Tempest’s Meleya project.

The global transition to green energy continues to drive the search for minerals in Western Australia, with battery metals dominating the latest round of the Exploration Incentive Scheme’s (EIS) co-funded drilling program.

Sixty-four per cent of the successful applicants for the EIS Round 26 are searching for battery minerals, with the majority chasing nickel. Rare earth elements were also popular.

This interest follows WA’s record nickel sales of $4.9 billion in 2021-22 and all-time high exploration expenditure across all mineral sectors of $2.5b.

The successful applicants are searching greenfields areas across the State, with particular interest in WA’s remote eastern regions close to the Northern Territory border.

Recent EIS successes include Tempest Mineral’s Meleya project that intersected multiple mineralised zones including visible copper in its maiden drill hole. AusQuest’s drilling on its Balladonia project intersected anomalous lead, zinc and cadmium which suggests it may have similar mineralisation to the world-renown Broken Hill deposit in New South Wales.

Battery minerals are essential to a range of clean energy technologies such as rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The successful applicants for the co-funded Energy Analysis Program (EAP) Series 4 have also been announced with four grants awarded to projects in the Perth and Canning Basins.

The EAP promotes the re-analysis of existing data to better understand WA’s petroleum and geothermal systems, and encourages exploration in new and under-explored areas in WA.

Mines and Petroleum minister Bill Johnston said  mineral exploration companies remained a critical part of WA’s economic success, and the record resources sales of $231b in 2021-22 were a testament to their efforts.

“WA’s mineral exploration companies continue to lead the nation with the record $2.5b invested over the past financial year representing 64 per cent of the Australian total,” he said.

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