A fall in the unemployment rate for geoscientists has been cautiously welcomed by their key industry group, the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG).
From a peak of 18.7 per cent in December last year, the June figure has come down to 15.5 per cent in the geoscience community, as recorded by surveys conducted by AIG
However, the underemployment rate is slightly higher, with 14.9 per cent compared to 14.8 per cent recorded in the January survey.
These figures remain at a record high, well in excess of the unemployment and under-employment figures recorded during September 2009, during the height of the Global Financial Crisis.
AIG president Wayne Spilsbury said he hoped the improvement in employment between January and June this year would be the beginning of a trend.
“But the small size of the improvement recorded and the increase in underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists is not welcome news,” he said.
Spilsbury indicated the recently launched federal Exploration Development Incentive (EDI) is expected to find favour among the junior miners, where falling exploration investment has hit hardest.
“AIG hopes that we will see the effects of federal government initiatives, especially the Exploration Development Incentive, to promote investment in Australia’s exploration sector in the form of improved employment opportunities for geoscientists,” he said.
“State governments also need to promote exploration by eliminating red-tape that contributes to investment in exploration being diverted from activities that could contribute to the discovery of new mineral resources.”
Industry observers have remarked, however, that the EDI will not be as good as what the industry really wants: A flow through-share scheme, which would take the form of exploration tax credits enabling exploration expenses to be treated as deductibles.
The EDI applies only to junior explorers with greenfields projects.
The fund has been capped at $100 million over three years: $25 million for exploration expenditure in 2014-15; $35 million for 2015-16; and $40 million for 2016-17.
In years when funding does not reach the cap, remaining funds will not roll over to the next year.
The scheme will be confined to junior minerals explorers, and only companies with no taxable income within the same year will be eligible to apply for funding.
The funding will not apply to exploration for quarry materials, shale oil, petroleum, unconventional gas or geothermal energy resources.