NEW drilling technologies will be put to the test in 2014, in a bid to uncover Australia’s hidden mineral potential.
During the year a drilling program will be conducted in the Stavely Zone of western Victoria by the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC), on behalf of Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey of Victoria.
The program will seek to test a new geological interpretation of the region and to uncover the key geological indicators of potential new mineral provinces hosting metals such as copper, gold, nickel and base metals.
DET CRC will deploy conventional diamond drilling together with, for the first-time, new realtime sensing technologies both down-hole and top-of-hole.
In collaboration with partners CSIRO, Imdex and Olympus, DET CRC will use its Lab-at-Rig analytical system to provide geochemical and mineralogical information on drilling samples as they are recovered. The data will be uploaded to the internet for real-time, remote access. Such new technologies seek to inform drilling decisions and, in due course, to replace time-consuming and expensive lab-based assays of drilling samples.
Australia’s share of global mineral exploration expenditure has dropped from 20 percent in the 1990s to about 12 percent in 2013. This has paralleled a decline in discovery of new major mineral deposits over the same period, both in Australia and worldwide.
Decreasing mineral exploration success and expenditure in Australia reflects the fact that relatively easy-to-find mineral deposits with a surface expression have largely been discovered. New mineral provinces must be found hidden beneath barren cover rocks and new technologies are needed to search more efficiently and effectively.
Richard Hillis, CEO at DET CRC, commented, “This collaboration provides an opportunity to field test and ‘pull through’ the new technologies that will be required to explore the 80 percent of the Australian continent where mineral deposits are hidden beneath barren cover”.
“It is also a great example of different organisations collaborating under the ‘UNCOVER’ mineral exploration strategy of the Australian Academy of Science,” he said.
Dr Andy Barnicoat, Chief of Geoscience Australia’s Minerals Division, added: “Our goal is to provide pre-competitive data on the mineral potential of unexplored areas of Australia where prospective rocks are obscured by barren cover. Drilling provides a critical source of information to confirm the nature of concealed geology, which reduces the technical risk to mineral explorers.
“Through this collaboration we will not only undertake this advanced drilling, but also help develop the new technologies that are required for cost-effective and successful mineral exploration through cover, thereby assisting exploration in all covered areas of the Australian continent.”