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27 November 2019

Northern Australia is a resource-rich and productive region. It currently represents 56% of the total value of our maritime exports­ and contains untapped resources that will benefit all of Australia for generations.

We require data, and the tools to turn that data into knowledge and insight, to discover and use these resources for environmentally sustainable economic and social and benefits.

Geoscience Australia draws on collective knowledge of Australia’s geology and geoscientific data spanning 50 years. Our satellite imagery and positioning data is enabling governments and industries to plan, invest and make decisions. This in turn is encouraging regional development, stimulating economic growth, and providing a baseline for environmental monitoring.

Together these technologies are helping to develop the north and delivering on the 2015 Our North, Our Future: White Paper.

Key initiatives

Exploring for the Future is an initiative to collect new baseline geoscience data and information to support resources developments. This program is building an integrated understanding of mineral, energy, and groundwater resources in the north. This includes identifying regions with high potential for hydrogen production, and rich in critical minerals, two emerging global markets for Australia.

Working with state and territory collaborators, we now deliver geoscience data and decision support tools via an innovative web portal. The tool aims to encourage private investment in further exploration, and to support government and community planning. To date, we have released over a dozen major pre-competitive datasets and are already attracting industry investment near Mt Isa and Tennant Creek. Many more data releases will follow.

We also provide critical data and information to support northern Australia’s resilience to natural disasters. We released National Seismic, Tropical Cyclone and Tsunami hazard assessments in late 2018 to help communities prepare for and, respond to events, and thereby reduce the impact of the events. We are working with the Queensland and Western Australian governments to develop an evidence base for severe wind and earthquake impacts. These will enable local and state governments to better manage future events.

Future focus

Looking ahead, we will continue to contribute to a safer, more prosperous and well-informed northern Australia through programs such as Digital Earth Australia (DEA) and Positioning Australia. These are combining satellite technologies with our data analysis and geoscience capabilities to enable new, transformative applications across the country.

DEA uses satellite imagery to monitor changes in the landscape and is useful for natural resource management, agriculture, and coastal erosion. It will support local businesses and industry by lowering the costs of accessing and analysing vast volumes of data. Australian industry—particularly small-to-medium and regional businesses—will be better able to develop new applications that compete in the growing global market for spatial information and services.

Positioning Australia will provide more accurate and reliable satellite-based positioning, including to remote areas without mobile phone coverage. This will open the potential for innovation in industries from precision farming and real-time tracking of livestock, to safer flight approaches in regional, rural and remote northern Australia.

Through this suite of measures the Australian Government is working towards a sustainable and prosperous development of northern Australia for the benefit of all Australians.

Dr James Johnson

CEO Geoscience Australia

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Email northernaustralia [at] industry.gov.au