'Downward-Looking Telescope' To 'Transform' Australia's Mining Sector
(Kitco News) - Australian scientists are proposing to launch a satellite that would be able to look 300?km (186 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, unlocking “Australia’s hidden mineral wealth,” according to the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Earth Sciences.
This kind of “downward-looking telescope” would completely change the exploration game for Australia, said committee’s chair Sue O’Reilly said in a press release on Monday.
“A piece of infrastructure like this would transform our minerals sector by making deep Australia visible. It would give us a new understanding of the vertical makeup of the continent and allow us to direct our mineral exploration efforts in the two-thirds of Australia that aren’t currently cost-effective to explore,” O’Reilly said.
The committee believes this new technology could be the answer to one of the obstacles Australia’s geoscience will face this coming decade — “to know how and where to explore for the critical resources needed for Australia’s future.”
The proposal submitted by the country’s top scientists is part of a larger 10-year plan on how to meet the world’s rising global demand for metals.
“The 10-year plan highlights how the world’s shift towards mobile device technology, renewable energy sources and electric cars will involve massive increases in demand for copper, cobalt, gold, rare-earth elements and other specialty metals,” the press release stated.
The surge in global demand for metals in undeniable, especially in light of the world-wide shift towards mobile technology and renewable energy, according to the committee.
For example, O’Reilly sees global demand for cobalt rise 47 times by 2030 from what it was in 2016.
“Australia may be held to ransom with massive price increases and chronic shortages,” she said. “This exemplifies the need to generate new geoscience knowledge that will allow us to explore successfully in the covered areas of Australia.”
The 10-year plan also calls for making geoscience a part of the national school curriculum as well as expanding Australia’s computation capabilities to ensure the mining nation stays competitive in the fields of geoscience simulation and modelling.