By Cameron Drummond

THE allocation of government funding for mineral exploration and company tax cuts in this year’s Federal Budget has been welcomed by mining industry groups amidst tough economic conditions.

The Minerals Council of Australia commended the budget’s strong growth policy and its move to lower company tax rate to 25 per cent for all businesses by 2026.

“[The budget] balances a careful approach to spending, the maintenance of a strict approach to tax integrity and lays out a medium term plan to promote investment and growth,” Minerals Council chief executive Brendan Pearson said.

“The move to a lower company tax cut will, over time, improve the competitiveness of our tax system and promote investment and well-paid jobs, including in the resources sector.”

Funding worth $100.5 million would be allocated to Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program to produce pre-competitive geoscience data for mineral exploration.

Geoscience Australia estimated that about 80 per cent of Australia remained under-explored; areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland, WA and South Australia would be the focus of this initiative.

“The minerals sector welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment to a $100.5 million initiative over four years to produce mineral, petroleum and groundwater resource data in targeted areas in northern Australia and South Australia to help identify new greenfield exploration sites,” Mr Pearson said.

“This is a critical investment to identify the next sources of Australia’s minerals wealth.”

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) called for additional annual financial commitment to the Exploration Development Incentive to stimulate investment in junior exploration companies.

A number of large producing mines were reaching the end of their lives and were not being replaced at a fast enough rate, AMEC stated.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said the Federal Budget welcomed the funding commitment for Queensland’s inland rail but stated that the government needed to provide a better scope for the project.

“The budget contains a significant financial commitment to the Inland Rail but the QRC is disappointed that the government is yet to commit to a genuine competitive process for this nation building project,” QRC chief executive Michael Roche said.

However Mr Roche was pleased that lowering the company tax rate would, over the medium term, improve the economy’s competitiveness while promoting jobs and investment.