The National Geochemical Survey of Australia (NGSA) is Australia's first national-scale geochemical survey. It was delivered to the public on 30 June 2011, after almost five years of stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, sample collection, preparation and analysis, quality assurance/quality control, and preliminary data analytics. The project was comprehensively documented in seven initial open-file reports and six data and map sets, followed over the next decade by more than 70 well-cited scientific publications. This review compiles the body of work and knowledge that emanated from the project to-date as an indication of the impact the NGSA had over the decade 2011-2021. The geochemical fabric of Australia as never seen before has been revealed by the NGSA. This has spurred further research and stimulated the mineral exploration industry. This paper also critically looks at operational decisions taken at project time (2007-2011) that were good and perhaps – with the benefit of hindsight – not so good, with the intention of providing experiential advice for any future large-scale geochemical survey of Australia or elsewhere. We conclude that the NGSA was a low-cost, high-benefit project that delivered scientific excellence, promoted stakeholder engagement, demonstrated national leadership, and contributed to enhanced national resource wealth.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Continental-scale geochemical mapping collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/topic/collections/continental-scale-geochemical-mapping

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