Hundreds of thousands of households and businesses are being challenged to back a treasure hunt with potentially millions of dollars in assets.

Youths are being asked to compete for a share of $20,000 in shares after mining billionaire Andrew Forrest announced plans to raise $10 million for his Mataranka Minerals venture in the Northern Territory.

Turning to crowdsourcing at the grassroots level, Mr Forrest wants private and community ownership to grow from $140 million to $1 billion in the next five years.

He believes the first step towards developing it will be a successful treasure hunt which will ultimately reveal hundreds of millions of tonnes of tantalum, lead and zinc resources with a potential value of $2 billion.

“We will strive to find out if the absolute size we believe exists is accurate,” Mr Forrest said.

“There’s a lot of things out there which has never been done, and it will test our intelligence and our ability to solve problems.

“We are going to break the boundaries to unveil this treasure, and the truth about these precious metals is truly worth $10 billion.”

Mr Forrest believes there are huge economic and social benefits to be achieved by allowing private and community ownership.

“Like in the US, Australian government has historically owned almost all the mineral and energy resources but private enterprise has not been allowed to unlock their potential,” he said.

“By opening up ownership of these Australian resources, we will ignite and expand a private wealth explosion, create a fairer society, create thousands of jobs and lift overall standards of living.”

In the US, 35,000 to 40,000 people participate in major economic projects like Mr Forrest is proposing.

“Young Australians who are between the ages of 15 and 25 in the NT are leaders of our future,” he said.

“We need their involvement and their engagement to unlock the economic potential of these precious metals.”

The non-profit organisation Mataranka Minerals and Chris Cove were co-founded by Mr Forrest, who is Australia’s second-richest man with a $14 billion fortune, to fund a $100 million Mission to Mars initiative, to bring back evidence of life on Mars.

“If we have given a chance, we have given a winnable trial and we need you to join us,” Mr Forrest said.