Exploring for the Future

  • A national program of Geoscience Australia

  • Growing our understanding of Australia's geology

  • Established in 2016

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The program’s vision is to support a strong economy, resilient society and sustainable environment for the benefit of Australians through an integrated geoscientific understanding of our mineral, energy and groundwater potential.

Watch an overview video about the Exploring for the Future program (2:00 min).

Outback rural landscape with red earth, dry rivers and green trees, Australia, aerial view


Understanding what lies beneath

Australia has a rich history in the exploration and development of resources. Discovery of new minerals, energy and groundwater resources, and improving management of our precious groundwater, is vital to supporting our communities, creating jobs and transitioning Australia to a low carbon future.

In 2016, Geoscience Australia, as the trusted source of information on Australia’s geology, began the Exploring for the Future program to better understand the potential for mineral, energy and groundwater resources across northern Australia. The $100 million, 4-year program (2016–20) built on existing data, and employed new and innovative technologies and techniques, to provide communities and industry with the information they need to confidently plan, make better informed decisions and invest in new developments. 


Current program

In June 2020, based on the program’s success so far, the Australian Government invested an additional $125 million — bringing total investment to $225 million — to extend the program to 2024 and expand exploration across the whole of Australia. Some of the projects from the previous phase continue on under the current program (2020–24), which focuses on 8 interrelated projects:

  • 3 deep-dive projects in potentially resource-rich corridors
  • 3 continental-scale projects with a focus on southern Australia
  • 2 program-support projects involving data management and program communication.
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Innovative science at an unprecedented scale

Our leading scientists use innovative techniques to gather new scientific data and information, on an unprecedented scale, about the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources concealed beneath the surface.

The Exploring for the Future program involves data acquisition using geophysical surveys, geochemical sampling, hydrological mapping and stratigraphic drilling. Data is analysed and integrated to provide a holistic picture of Australia's geology, including the mineral, energy and groundwater resources to inform policy and planning decisions within government and industry, and encourage investment. All data is publicly available via the Exploring for the Future Data Discovery Portal.


Why are we doing it?

Over 80% of Australia is underexplored, with huge untapped opportunities potentially hidden beneath the surface. Unlocking Australia’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resource potential is essential to drive economic growth, job creation and ongoing infrastructure and community development as we transition towards a low-emissions, sustainable future.

The Exploring for the Future program was designed to address this challenge. Drawing together data, science and innovative techniques and technology, the program enables us to map undercover and underexplored areas. This in turn encourages new investment in ‘greenfield’ areas by providing security and certainty to our minerals, energy and agriculture sectors about the resource potential.

Realising impacts to benefit Australians

The Exploring for the Future impact pathway summarises how the program will realise its vision through our scientific activities, linked to outputs, intended outcomes and impacts that benefit Australians.

Streetscape - Photograph courtesy of Serendigity https://www.flickr.com/photos/maleny_steve/32846828026/


The Exploring for the Future program is a world leading program, delivering public geoscientific data and information required to empower decision-makers and attract future investment in resource exploration and development.

The program is already demonstrating a range of benefits, especially in regional Australia, including:

  • economic benefits, with the potential to generate up to $2.5 billion from just 3 projects from the first 4 years of the program (an independent review by  ACIL Allen)
  • the program is advancing the Mineral Potential Mapper. ACIL Allen Consulting assessed the benefits of Geoscience Australia’s Mineral Potential Mapper based on the assumption that the Gonneville deposit at Julimar becomes a mine. Every dollar invested by Government into the Mineral Potential Mapper released in 2016 has been estimated by ACIL Allen to generate at least one thousand dollars and as much as one and half thousand dollars of additional benefits to the economy
  • new and increased investment, particularly in regional economies
  • increased tenement uptake with over 275,000 km2 attributed to precompetitive geoscience from 2016, including over 170,000 km2 as a direct result of the program across Australia 
  • provision of vital information to inform agricultural developments and increase the knowledge and understanding of natural resources
  • support of 310 jobs for contractors and small businesses in the first 4 years of the program. 

The program continues to build on current findings to provide consistent national coverage and generate positive outcomes with long-term impacts. 

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Case studies

Our case studies showcase our work, community stories, and emerging benefits and impacts of the Exploring for the Future program.