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Minister Tom Koutsantonis presenting the new PACE Copper initiativeMineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis today [30 November 2015] launched a new $20 million initiative to encourage further exploration and investment in South Australia's Copper Belt over the next two years.

PACE Copper is the State Government's response to the challenges facing the resources sector. It will aim to generate more than $400 million in private mineral exploration return for the State and create and retain up to 1000 direct and indirect jobs within the minerals industry and services sector.

The initiative links directly to one of the State Government's key economic priorities to unlock the full potential of South Australia's resources, energy and renewable assets. 

Mr Koutsantonis said the initiative will be critical in driving the exploration investment and discovery of the new high-quality copper resources required to meet South Australia's production goal of one million tonnes a year by 2030. 

"There is a critical issue facing the resources sector right now - a significant decline in exploration investment and project advancement which has led to job losses in the sector," Mr Koutsantonis said. 

"The time is right for South Australia to deliver a new geoscientific initiative that will help the exploration industry recover from the challenging global economic cycle of the past five years and confidently face the next surge in exploration for strategic metals such as copper." 

The $20 million PACE Copper initiative will:

  • Deliver the world's largest high-resolution, airborne geophysical and terrain imaging program to rejuvenate exploration in South Australia's Copper Belt.
  • Encourage industry and government collaboration on new drilling targets.
  • Provide world-class data and analysis for the untouched minerals province in the State's Far West that will result in a major regional drilling program. 

"South Australia is already home to the vast majority of the nation's known copper resources but we instinctively  know there is much more to be found deep under cover," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"We need to support our explorers to continue to go to there and find it. 

"PACE Copper will do exactly that by providing explorers with the analytical tools needed to better target the next elusive major discovery that then leads to a pipeline of projects."

PACE Copper is the first instalment in the comprehensive South Australian Copper Strategy that aims to triple the State's annual copper production and support Australia jumping to third ranking of the world's largest copper producers. 

Mr Koutsantonis said the 444,000 square kilometre Western Gawler Craton is larger than the land area of Sweden and will be the centrepiece of the geoscience element of PACE Copper. 

"The initial focus will be on developing fundamental geological data that will culminate in a major regional drilling campaign, in collaboration with the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC)," he said. 

Mr Koutsantonis made the announcement today at the new $32.2 million State Drill Core Reference Library, which is currently under construction at the expanding Tonsley precinct.

The library, which brings together more than 7.5 million metres of drill core material, is expected to open early next year.

"The facility will be a one-stop-shop for industry an geoscience explorers seeking easy access to the State's inventory of drill cores generated from historical and recent exploration efforts, enabling companies to better target potential discoveries," Mr Koutsantonis said.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis 
Minister for Finance
Minister for State Development
Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy
Minister for Small Business 

Released Monday 30 November 2015