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"Downward-looking telescope" could "transform" Australian mining industry: experts
Last Updated: 2018-10-15 13:47 | Xinhua
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Australia's top scientists have proposed that a satellite be launched to look 300 km beneath the Earth's surface and "transform" the nation's mining sector.

The Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Earth Sciences on Monday launched its 10-year plan for Australian Geoscience, which includes plans for the satellite.

According to the report, the world's demand for copper, cobalt, gold and rare-earth elements is set to skyrocket over the next decade as a result of the shift towards renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and mobile technology.

Sue O-Reilly, chairwoman of the committee, said that Australia's minerals sector had to become smarter when exploring for those critical resources.

"This is where the downward-looking telescope comes in," she said in a media 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.

"By 2030 global demand for cobalt will be 47 times what it was in 2016 so, unless we can become self-sufficient in this strategic metal, Australia may be held to ransom with massive price increases and chronic shortages."

In addition to proposing the telescope, the academy called for geoscience to become a part of the national school curriculum, saying that it "should be embedded as a core subject."

It also said that Australia's computation capability must be expanded so as to ensure that the nation remains a world-leader in geoscience simulation and modelling.

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