THIRTY future “superstars” of the mining exploration industry will take part in an intensive three-week course in South Australia this month.
The inaugural National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS), in Adelaide from November 28 to December 18, will provide world-class training in mineral exploration to the handpicked senior undergraduates, postgraduates and early career professionals in classroom and field settings.
The program is centred around the four key UNCOVER themes identified by the industry as being the major knowledge areas to improve exploration success rates.
The first week will involve a mixture of classroom, laboratory and drill-core facility activities followed by field-site placements in the Adelaide Hills and the Yorke Peninsula for hands on geochemical and geophysical techniques in weeks two and three.
NExUS Convenor Professor Graham Heinson said the “fantastic superstar students from around the country” were selected from disciplines including geology, geophysics and geochemistry.
“We were looking for people who were really keen on becoming future leaders … looking at the backgrounds and the enthusiasm of the 30 who are coming I think that’s a given,” he said.
“Industry has been very interested in this program and a number of major companies are sending some of their chief exploration people to Adelaide to meet the students because they see this group as being some of the 30 best scientists going into the industry.”
The program is run by the University of Adelaide with funds from the Minerals Council of Australia and its education sub-group Minerals Tertiary Education Council.
Prof Heinson said while there was an initial suggestion to run the course in Perth, West Australia, the more centrally located city of Adelaide was well placed to host the school.
He said the South Australian capital had many good attributes including a very strong geological survey, easy access to nearby mines at Kanmantoo and Yorke Peninsula and world-class facilities at the Tonsley innovation precinct such as the new SA Drill Core Library (pictured below).
“Obviously we are very proud to have it in South Australia and run it out of the University of Adelaide,” Prof Heinson said.
“Our feedback so far is that it’s a good model and we would certainly look to run it again over the next few years.
“Internationally it’s already gaining a profile as being a very innovative program – obviously we’ve got to run it first to see how it works – but this is the first major mineral exploration summer school that we’ve run like this.
“I think it’s also a good time in the industry to put up something like this because we are addressing the very questions and opportunities that UNCOVER has put up and I think that’s why we’re getting such strong support from industry for it.“
South Australia is a globally important producer of copper, uranium and zircon.
It also produces iron ore, zinc, lead, silver, industrial minerals (including salt, silica sand and gypsum) and extractive materials (including dimension stone and opal).
The state hosts 25 per cent of the world’s uranium deposits and is home to Olympic Dam, the world’s biggest uranium deposit and the fourth biggest copper resource in the world.