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Australia, US partnership on critical minerals formalised

Australia, US partnership on critical minerals formalised

Australia and the United States have formalised their partnership on developing both nations’ critical mineral assets, with a project agreement signed today by Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The signing paves the way for both nations to work more closely on understanding each country’s geological resource potential for critical minerals, including rare earth elements, and developing a pathway to supply arrangements.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said it was the beginning of a strong new partnership which would benefit both nations.

“This is a partnership that will deliver opportunity and security to both nations,” Minister Canavan said.

“Growing global demand for critical minerals means there is huge scope for Australia to develop secure and stable supply chains to meet the growing demand for critical minerals in key economies such as the US.

“The US has a need for critical minerals and Australia’s abundant supplies makes us a reliable and secure international supplier of a wide range of those, including rare earth elements.

“Today’s signing follows a wealth of work by the Liberal National Government to grow our potential in the critical minerals market, following the announcement of our critical mineral partnership with the US in early 2018.

“Almost 12 months ago Geoscience Australia and the USGS signed a wide-ranging Letter of Intent to formalise our collaboration on critical minerals.

“Our Critical Minerals Strategy was released earlier this year to coordinate activities across government, promote investment and deliver the necessary infrastructure to bring new critical minerals projects into production.

“And just last month we released our Critical Minerals Supply Chain in the United States report, which reinforces the importance of Australia continuing to attract investment in high-value activities such as processing and manufacturing. 

“Our partnership with the US also supports the goals of our National Resources Statement.”

The new agreement focuses on joint critical mineral potential mapping and quantitative mineral assessments, determining geological controls on critical mineral distribution, and developing data analytics capability to understand supply and demand scenarios for developing the critical minerals pipeline.

The knowledge gained from this collaboration will:

  • Improve both countries’ understanding of their geological resource potential for critical minerals, including rare earth elements, and contribute to a robust evidence base for global supply potential
  • Better identify and close critical minerals knowledge gaps in Australia’s critical minerals understanding
  • Help Australia understand future trends and match resource potential to international demand
  • Fast track innovation in the critical minerals sector, including development of online decision support tools with full data and decision process transparency.

Critical minerals are essential for the production of high-tech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy, agricultural, automotive and telecommunications technologies, and are found in everyday items such as lithium-ion batteries which power laptops and smartphones.

Senator the Hon Matt Canavan Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Media Release, 19 Nov 2019

Get Ready for GDA2020

The Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020 (GDA2020) is a geocentric (earth-centred) coordinate reference system that is Australia’s new official national datum. GDA2020 will eventually supersede the GDA94 datum and older coordinate systems, such as Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 and 1984 (AGD66 and AGD84).

It is a ‘plate-fixed’ datum that is aligned with the 2014 realisation of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (or ITRF2014). The “earth-fixed” ITRF is typically not regarded as a “datum” — rather it is the international standard reference framework to which national geocentric datums are aligned.

GDA2020 coordinates differ from GDA94 coordinates by approximately 1.5 to 1.8 metres and are more closely aligned with the reference frameworks used by modern GNSS – such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou.

Shifts between GDA 94 and GDA 2020

Approximate shift from GDA94 to GDA2020 locations across Australia

The standard map projection associated with GDA2020 is the Map Grid of Australia 2020 (MGA2020), a transverse Mercator projection that conforms to the internationally standardised Universal Transverse Mercator Grid system.

The changes are needed because national and global location information systems operate differently, and they are diverging. Australia’s national grid of latitude and longitude coordinates moves with the drift of the continent, like a giant net tied to known reference points on the landscape. Together, these reference points and latitude and longitude coordinates are known as a geodetic datum. Every country has its own datum, and the official Australian geodetic datum since 2000 has been  the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994, or GDA94. The coordinates of features on our maps, such as roads, buildings and property boundaries, are all based on GDA94, and they do not change over time.


Australia’s national grid of latitude and longitude coordinates moves with the continent – where Australia goes GDA94 goes

There have been significant technology developments recently that provide ready access to accurate positioning systems. It is anticipated that the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) will be capable of providing positioning services with centimetre accuracy in real-time to the mass market on mobile devices. Given that data from GNSS is referenced to a global reference frame, specifically the International Terrestrial Reference Frame 2014 (ITRF2014), it is appropriate that the Australian datum is closely aligned to the same global reference frame.

There are a number of useful references available on-line from Geoscience Australia and the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping.  A search for GDA2020 will reveal a list of useful resources, including a series of informative fact sheets.

If you are in Brisbane, 30 October, the ASEG Queensland Branch meeting will feature a talk by  Matt Higgins, Manager of Geodesy and Positioning in the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy on the new datum.

AGI and Geoscience Australia Launch Updated Website for AusGeoRef

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and Geoscience Australia have launched a new website for AusGeoRef, a bibliographic database for Australian geoscience literature since the mid-19th century.

Publications in AusGeoRef cover Australian geology back to 1840, the date at which GeoRef began covering Australia. Geoscience Australia began supplying references for AusGeoRef in 2003 and will continue to expand the database to include as many current Australian publications as possible.

The new website features expanded functionality, including a geographic search view option, as well as the abilities to set up individual accounts and to easily save and share lists of references.

Launched in 2003 as a cooperative arrangement between AGI and Geoscience Australia, AusGeoRef now includes references to a growing database of more than 200,000 journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports, and theses. Explore these references now through the new and improved AusGeoRef website.

Geoscience Australia’s acting Chief Science Information Officer Tanya Whiteway said Geoscience Australia is proud to have been a partner with AGI on AusGeoRef for the past 15 years, contributing more than 35,000 records of new Australian geoscience publications to the database in that time.

Our own scientists use both AusGeoRef and GeoRef regularly to locate references not included in any other earth sciences databases. We believe the new features being announced today will make AusGeoRef even more essential to searchers of Australian literature in the geosciences,” Whiteway said.

Want to use AusGeoRef but don’t want to pay a subscription? Day passes are now available for select GeoRef databases, including AusGeoRef.

About GeoRef
The GeoRef database, established by the American Geosciences Institute in 1966, provides access to the geoscience literature of the world. GeoRef is the most comprehensive database in the geosciences and continues to grow by more than 100,000 references a year. The database contains over 4 million references to geoscience journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports and theses.

About Geoscience Australia
Geoscience Australia (GA) is Australia’s pre-eminent public sector geoscience organisation. The work of Geoscience Australia addresses a diverse range of issues across key strategic priorities including Australia’s mineral and energy resources, natural hazards, water resources, marine jurisdictions, and fundamental geographic information. GA is also custodian and champion of the nation’s geosciences knowledge base and capabilities enabling evidence-based decisions and policy development by government, industry and the Australian community. It is based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

About AGI
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is a nonprofit federation of 52 scientific and professional associations that represents more than a quarter-million geoscientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides geoscientists with access to scholarly information, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and health of the environment.

AGI is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organisation dedicated to serving the geoscience community and addressing the needs of society. AGI headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia.  AIG is an American Geosciences Institute affiliate.

New high-resolution satellite imagery viewing tool

NCI Australia, Australia’s national research computing service, and Geoscience Australia this week launched a new tool for viewing very-high resolution satellite imagery of Australia.

The viewer is part of a broader initiative involving  a group of Australian research infrastructure organisations to bring together a vast collection of previously incompatible geoscience datasets that scientists can use to improve our understanding of the Earth beneath us.

Lake Mackay and Lake Amadeus. Geoscience Australia, Copernicus EU, ESA Earth Observation and NCI Australia

These images of Lake Mackay (left) and Lake Amadeus (right) were captured by the Sentinel satellites whose data is now even easier to access through the new portal, SARA.

SARA provides free access to data from all Sentinel satellites for the South-East Asia and South Pacific region. The Sentinel missions are part of the Copernicus programme that is coordinated and managed by the European Commision. The data products are generated by the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. SARA is hosted at the National Computational Infrastructure and operated by the Regional Copernicus Data Hub consortium formed by Geoscience Australia, the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Queensland Department of Science Information Technology and Innovation, Western Australian Land Information Authority and the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation.  Portal users currently have access to more than 2,387,403 products.

Earth Science Week 2018 Theme Announced: ‘Earth as Inspiration’

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has announced that the theme of Earth Science Week 2018 will be “Earth as Inspiration.” The coming year’s event will emphasize artistic expression as a unique, powerful opportunity for geoscience education and understanding in the 21st century.

Earth Science Week 2018 learning resources and activities will engage young people and others in exploring the relationship between the arts and Earth systems. The coming year’s theme will promote public understanding and stewardship of the planet, especially in terms of the ways art relates to geoscience principles and issues as diverse as energy, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, technology, industry, agriculture, recreation, and the economy.

“A longtime provider of top-quality curricula and teacher training, AGI supports the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize what is known as three-dimensional teaching, including introducing students to ‘cross-cutting concepts’ that help students see connections across the sciences,” says Geoff Camphire, AGI’s Manager of Outreach. “Through instruction based on these standards, students can find ways to combine the arts, sciences, and other subjects. Such educational strategies find a welcome environment in schools nationwide, where STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) has become an organizing principle of cross-curricular cooperation among educators and students.”

Creativity, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills are as important to the arts as they are to the Earth sciences. Consider an artist making silk screen prints, for example. The artist thinks in terms of layers added in a specific sequence. This process relies on similar thinking skills to those used by scientists interpreting geological samples, such as cores, trackways, and rock strata. Professional geoscientists themselves innovatively combine sciences such as chemistry, physics, and biology to understand the interactions of Earth systems including the geosphere (earth), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (living things). People of all ages are invited during Earth Science Week 2018 to join in this creative endeavor.

Reaching over 50 million people annually, AGI leads Earth Science Week in cooperation with its sponsors and the geoscience community as a service to the public. Each October, community groups, educators, and interested citizens organize celebratory events. Earth Science Week offers opportunities to discover the Earth sciences and engage in responsible stewardship of the Earth.

Earth Science Week is supported by many organisations.  Australian involvement in Earth Sciences Week is coordinated by Geoscience Australia.