Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM




Western Australia (WA) is particularly well-resourced with a range of mineral commodities, and an abundance of high-quality orebodies. These orebodies include the world-class martite–microplatey hematite iron ores of the Pilbara, and lode gold deposits in the Eastern Goldfields region around Kalgoorlie. Although the majority of orebodies in WA were discovered more than 20 years ago, the value in production has increased from $20 billion to $120 billion per year, while exploration expenditure has increased from $800 million to $4 billion per year. Iron ore production, largely from the Archean Pilbara Craton, in 2010 was 390 million tons valued at $48.5 billion, exported mainly to China (64%) and Japan (21%). The Archean Yilgarn Craton yielded 240 tons of gold, 75% of Australia’s annual production. Other commodities mined include copper, aluminium, coal, uranium, diamonds, titanium and industrial metals. Active miners include BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, and Rio Tinto. Australia’s stable political environment, transparent regulatory structure and proximity to Asian markets make it favourable for mining and an attractive destination for foreign investment.

In WA, greenfields exploration is financially supported under the state government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS). The EIS has an annual budget of $20 million and encourages exploration in under-explored regions, or areas with thick regolith or sedimentary cover. Exploration is also supported by state and federal government geoscience, integrated geological mapping, geophysics, geochemistry, geochronology, structural, and metamorphic studies. Recent seismic reflection and magnetotelluric traverses across the state have revealed the deep crustal architecture, including mantle-tapping structures, that may be associated with fluid pathways to mineralizing systems. These collaborative research projects are additionally supported by a mineral systems approach to ore genesis, conducted with industry and universities.

WA is the largest (33% with 1.6 million square kilometres) of the seven states and territories of Australia, with only ~10% of Australia’s 23.1 million population. GDP of Australia is $1.370 trillion and total wealth of the country is $6.4 trillion, 19% of which is provided by the mining sector.