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The Mount Isa region is officially ‘in the zone’ as the Australian Government targets two key mineral-rich corridors to help support the nation’s economic recovery.

The corridors stretching the length of the nation will be the focus of a $125 million expansion of Australia’s Exploring for the Future program.

They have been identified by scientific experts at Geoscience Australia as having high potential for new energy, minerals and groundwater resource discoveries.

“Geoscience Australia already has a good understanding of the two corridors’ geology, which suggests they both have potential for new discoveries of groundwater, conventional and unconventional oil and gas, and a wide range of minerals including gold, diamonds, base metals and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements and lithium,” Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said.

“The challenge for Exploring for the Future is to narrow down the location of the new mineral, energy and groundwater resources located along these corridors, which each run for thousands of kilometres through remote parts of Australia.

“The east corridor will start at the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria and run through Mount Isa in Queensland and down the borders of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

“On the other side of the country, the west corridor will start just south of Darwin and straddles the borders of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia finishing at the edge of the Great Australian Bight.”

The Federal Government in June announced the additional $125 million funding to extend the Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program for four years from June 30, adding to $100 million already spent.

In addition to undertaking targeted activities along the two corridors, Geoscience Australia will lead the collection of large-scale data from across southern Australia.

This will be combined with corresponding data from northern Australia, which was collected during the Exploring for the Future program from 2016 to 2020.

North Queensland-based Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said it was good timing for the region.

“There is no doubt that resources will play a vital role in helping Australia balance the books after COVID, so it’s imperative that we find and extract more valuable minerals and gas to help our own industries and earn more royalties,” Senator McDonald said.

“The word ‘potential’ has been used to describe North West Queensland for a long time but this new approach will position the region as one of Australia’s most important.

“Townsville too will benefit as a hub for mining engineering and logistics.

“Anything that develops jobs and population growth in regional Queensland has my full support and I commend the Morrison Government for taking this approach.”