ONE of the world’s most advanced drill core reference libraries holding 130 years of mining samples has opened in South Australia.
The $32.2 million South Australia Drill Core Reference Library in Adelaide holds 7.5 million metres of drill core samples from across South Australia and has the capacity to display up to 2km of cores for inspection on a series of automated conveyor belts in the main viewing area at any one time.
It also features a 3D viewing room, which uses virtual reality technology to give geologists a worms-eye view of geology and mineral deposits under the earth’s surface.
South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy President Terry Burgess said the facility is one of the “unique core libraries in the world” and holds cores dating back more than 100 years.
“When geologists drill a hole they will interpret it at the time so the knowledge is based upon that moment and as knowledge increases some of that historical drilling can be re-addressed and reinterpreted … discoveries are going to be made in this building,” Burgess said.
“It’s a huge storage of information that’s waiting to be tapped – there’s a discovery waiting to happen in the core library somewhere and it’s up to the geologists to work out what that is. It could be that there’s something that’s been drilled in the past with a core in the library that’s going to end up with a mine going forward because of a different interpretation.
“These analytical techniques are being developed all the time and like the 3-D work that’s been done, I think we are going to get a lot of new ideas and new technologies that weren’t available before.”
Exploration companies in South Australia are required by legislation to provide the Department of State Development representative samples of any core and cuttings taken during tenure. Core and cuttings are stored in the Drill Core Reference Library.
The library brings together samples previously stored at four separate drill core libraries spread across South Australia.
They are now kept in a massive storage warehouse featuring eight seemingly never-ending aisles that reach to the high ceiling.
Hi-tech forklifts are used to fetch requested core samples to be brought to the main viewing area for inspection.
The library is about two-thirds full with room for future samples for the next two decades.
Hundreds of European-style wooden storage crates were specially manufactured to sit the core boxes on by workers with a disability at the nearby Bedford Phoenix factory.
The library is located in the Tonsley precinct, the site of a former Mitsubishi car manufacturing plant, which has been converted into a modern hub for high-value industries.
Burgess, who is also the Chairman of the Tonsley Steering Committee, said he had held discussions with companies in the related geo-science area that had expressed interest in relocating to Tonsley because the core library was located there.
“I’ve had some discussions with companies that have expressed interest in relocating to Tonsley because of the proximity to the core library and they’ve got technologies that they want to use on core that may be introduced in the future,” he said.
Burgess said successive South Australian governments since the 1950s had shown strong support for the mining industry in the state.
“In a way this is the continuation of that support for both the mining and oil and gas sector and I think it’s appreciated by the resources sector.”
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said drill core samples were instrumental in major mineral and energy discoveries in the state such as Olympic Dam and the Cooper Basin more than 40 years ago.
“It is a one-stop-shop for industry and geoscience explorers seeking easy access to the state’s inventory of drill cores generated from historical and recent exploration efforts, enabling companies to better target potential discoveries,” he said.
“It will boost exploration opportunities, unlocking the potential of South Australia’s resource wealth for many decades.”
“These projects continue to reap economic rewards to this day through exports, jobs for more than 3000 people, and ongoing royalty income,” he said.
Partners in the build included Aurecon, Thomson Rossi, Hansen Yuncken, Bianco Precast, Boral and Adelaide Brighton Cement and the specialist drill core viewing tables were manufactured by Southeast Conveyors.