Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

Shorten flags new Qld mining boom

QUEENSLAND will be scoured for new mineral deposits under a Labor plan to encourage future mines and boost exports.

In a bid to dramatically increase Australia's output of lucrative commodities including lithium, cobalt, zinc, gold, copper and nickel, Labor will revive an axed program to find new deposits with underground mapping.

Other minerals including iron ore will be also be assessed under the $75 million road map for the next generation of mines.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will use the announcement to hit back against government claims he is an enemy of mining, arguing the Coalition had halted exploration while large tracts of resources are still untapped.

Lithium, a key ingredient in batteries expected to face exponential growth in value over the next seven years, will be a focus of the study.

Mr Shorten said the scheme, together with his earlier $1.5 billion plan to unlock gas supply in Queensland and the NT, showed Labor would drive the "commodities of the future".

"Whether it's hydrogen, future mining or unlocking the Bowen and Galilee basins' gas supply, only Labor has a plan to develop Queensland' future resources industry," Mr Shorten said.

"Queensland has every mineral needed to make a lithium battery domestically, and the industry has significant potential for local mining, local manufacturing and for a cleaner energy future."


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a campaign rally at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne yesterday. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a campaign rally at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne yesterday. Picture: Darren England/AAP


Under the plan, a Labor government will extend a sophisticated mapping program run by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO that is due to close within a year.

The program previously found the South Nicholson Basin north of Mt Isa is three times larger than thought and indentified potential new gold and copper deposits in Tennant Creek.

The new funding will reverse the Budget measure that axes the program and gives it a new mandate to explore future deposits.

Two-thirds of Australia's potential mineral deposits are still undiscovered because they require technology like ground penetrating radar to accurately map them.

Australia's share of global spending on mineral exploration has halved in the last two decades and 80 per cent of earnings come from mines discovered a generation ago.

Mining companies will have input into the studies through a previously promised joint government and industry body in a bid to turn the work into new mines.

For every dollar of taxpayer spending on geological surveys, companies have previously spent between $5 and $15 on further exploration.