The UNCOVER initiative has arisen out of the efforts of the Australian Academy of Science (the Academy). In 2010 the Academy dedicated its Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank to the important national issue of the decline in exploration success. The Hon Martin Ferguson, then Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, launched the think tank - Searching the Deep Earth: The Future of Australian Resource Discovery and Utilisation - by saying, 'It is by no means an overstatement to say that Searching the deep earth... is at the heart of our nation's continued prosperity'. Following a period of consultations with stakeholders the recommendations of the Think Tank were published in 2012 as 'Searching the Deep Earth: A vision for exploration geoscience in Australia [PDF 5MB]', which identified four geoscience themes:

  1. Characterising Australia's cover - new knowledge to confidently explore beneath the cover.
  3. Investigating Australia's lithospheric architecture - a whole-of-lithosphere architectural framework for mineral systems exploration.
  5. Resolving the 4D geodynamic and metallogenic evolution of Australia - understanding ore deposit origins for better prediction.
  7. Characterising and detecting the distal footprints of ore deposits - towards a toolkit for minerals exploration.

In 2012 the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER) formally released its National Mineral Exploration Strategy, which included the UNCOVER initiative as one of the three key elements.

In April 2014 the inaugural UNCOVER Summit was held at which an implementation strategy was adopted as summarised in 'UNCOVER: Unfolding the vision for exploration Geoscience towards a brighter mining future in Australia [PDF 778KB]'. An important component of this strategy was a commitment by industry, government and academia to clearly articulate detailed science questions and work required to progress the four geoscience themes.

In September 2014, the mostly industry-funded AMIRA UNCOVER Roadmap Project P1162, was initiated. The project assessed the science themes and developed a priority list of 45 research and data acquisition actions that are required to realise the vision. The Roadmap was launched on 22 July 2015 by the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP.