The Federal Government is funding millions of dollars worth of mapping for mining companies. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has unveiled a significant funding initiative to explore the nation's rich subterranean resources, committing $566 million over the next decade to comprehensively map the Australian landmass and its offshore territories. 

The plan is being pushed as a strategic move to bolster the search for critical minerals essential for renewable energy technologies.

The funding injection - part of the federal budget for 2024 - represents what Albanese has termed a “generational investment”, enabling major discoveries and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The task of mapping will be carried out by Geoscience Australia under the Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity (RAP) program. 

For the first time, the initiative will extend beyond the mainland to include Australia’s vast maritime boundaries. 

The focus will extend to not only minerals but also other natural resources like groundwater systems which are crucial for agriculture, climate resilience, and community water security.

“Precompetitive geoscience is the key to the strength of Australia’s resources sector,” the government says. 

Official announcements cite a Deloitte Access Economics claim that previous public-funded geoscience was estimated to have supported $76 billion of value added to the Australian economy and 80,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2021-2022 alone.

Despite these promising projections, the plan has drawn scepticism due to its heavy reliance on taxpayer funding to potentially benefit private mining enterprises. 

Critics argue that the substantial financial commitment could serve the interests of the resource sector more than those of the general public. 

They claim that this is the type of work that mining companies should be paying for, given that they will profit from its results. 

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Albanese and Minister for Resources Madeleine King alleged the strategic importance of this investment. 

“The road to net zero runs through Australia’s resources sector,” King said. 

“This funding will ensure we can draw the map for our resources companies to find the minerals we need to drive our economy and build the technology we need to reduce emissions.”

RAP's comprehensive mapping is expected to pave the way for future exploration projects that could be crucial for the nation's energy security and economic independence. 

It will also explore potential sites for carbon capture and storage and clean hydrogen projects, aligning with global shifts towards sustainable energy sources.