Nickel ore

Battery metals dominated the latest round of the Exploration Incentive Scheme’s (EIS) co-funded drilling program, with EIS Round 26 offering $6.7 million to 38 projects.

64 per cent of the successful applicants for the EIS Round 26 are searching for battery minerals, with the majority chasing nickel. This interest follows Western Australia’s all-time high nickel sales of $4.9 billion in 2021-22 and record exploration expenditure across all mineral sectors of $2.5 billion.

Rare earth elements were also popular, with the global transition to green energy continuing to drive the search for minerals in Western Australia – battery minerals essential to a range of clean energy technologies such as rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles and wind turbines.Successful applicants are searching greenfields areas across the state, with particular interest in Western Australia’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, and AusQuest’s drilling on its Balladonia project intersected anomalous lead, zinc and cadmium, suggesting it may have similar mineralisation to the world-renown Broken Hill deposit in New South Wales.

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Johnston, said, “Mineral exploration companies remain a critical part of WA’s economic success, and the record resources sales of $231 billion in 2021-22 are a testament to their efforts.

“The search for battery minerals is fundamental to the world’s clean energy transition; the McGowan Government will continue to grow and diversify our resources sector to meet the growing demand for renewables.

“Western Australia’s mineral exploration companies continue to lead the nation with the record $2.5 billion invested over the past financial year representing 64 per cent of the Australian total.”

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 Western Australia’s petroleum and geothermal systems, and encourages exploration in new and under-explored areas in WA.

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