The 2018 Developing Northern Australia Conference is almost here again and will this year be held at Alice Springs Convention Centre over Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 June. 

Dr Keith Sircombe,  Program Coordinator at Geoscience Australia joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Exploring for the Future: mapping resources in northern Australia’.


The Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia identified the untapped potential and close proximity of this region to significant trading markets presents a unique opportunity to drive economic growth and investment. However, there are major gaps in our knowledge of the mineral, energy and groundwater resource potential of this area. Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program, in collaboration with State/Northern Territory government agencies, and other key government, research and industry partners, is addressing these gaps to improve confidence in resource potential, lower technical risk and encourage further investment.

Now halfway through this four-year, $100.5 million program, a diverse and innovative range of geoscience activities are improving government, industry and community understanding of the potential of mineral, energy and groundwater resources in Northern Australia. Activity has been especially focused in areas where the resource potential is poorly known, such as the Barkly region between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa. The program has already collected a wide range of airborne and ground-based data and samples at a range of scales to image the rocks and water beneath the surface. The program also continues to lead the development of new geoscience techniques and the integration of acquired data into new models that will provide government, industry, and communities with tools for processing and interpreting geoscience data.

Together, minerals and energy resources currently contribute around $200 billion annually towards Australia’s export income and the water-dependent agricultural sector contributes a further $41 billion. Encouraging investment to discover and develop new mineral and energy resources and expand agricultural activity will provide the inter-generational economic base for developing infrastructure and communities across northern Australia. The acquired knowledge also provides critical information to support evidence-based decision making about managing those resources and broader community development.


Andrew Barrett is currently Branch Head for Energy Systems at Geoscience Australia. He joined Geoscience Australia’s predecessor organisation, the Australian Geological Survey Organisation in 1999 after 18 years working as a petroleum geophysicist in the private sector. At Geoscience Australia Andrew has been responsible for the provision of technical advice to Government and other stakeholders on petroleum and mineral resource matters prior to recently taking up the role of leading Geoscience Australia’s branch responsible for the energy systems component of the Exploring for the Future program.

For more information on the 2018 Developing Northern Australia Conference and to secure your spot in Alice Springs this June please visit the conference website.