Getting under deep cover

INDUSTRY, government and research players have banded together to uncover South Australia’s hidden resources by trialling technologies for exploration beneath barren cover.
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Official from DET CRC, Minotaur Exploration, Kingston Resources, GSSA and Boart Longyear at the signing for the MSDP

Marion Lopez

The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre, the Geological Survey of South Australia, the SA Department of State Development, mineral explorers Minotaur Exploration and Kingston Resources, and drilling company Boart Longyear have signed agreements to collaborate on a mineral systems drilling program.

The MSDP will be carried out in the highly prospective eastern Gawler Craton Olympic copper-gold province on the northern Eyre Peninsula where Kingston Resources is prospecting at its Six Mile Hill project.

Technologies from the DETCRC required for exploration beneath barren cover will be used as part of the program.

“This coalition will deploy leading science and technology to give Kingston the best chance of discovery at Six Mile Hill,” Kingston Resources director Stuart Rechner said.

“We are proud, grateful and excited.”

DETCRC CEO Richard Hillis said the partnership was a “win-win-win-win”.

“The mineral explorers are testing new targets, the Geological Survey is mapping mineral systems beneath barren cover, the drillers are testing innovative new technologies and we are putting some invaluable kilometres on the clock of our new technologies,” he said.

“While we’d love to be part of a discovery, it’s important to also realise that the export of mineral exploration and mining technologies earns Australia as much as the export of gold does.”

Boart Longyear will start the drilling program in July.

The driller is familiar with the technologies being rolled out and is actively involved in commercialising one of them, the AutoSonde.

The AutoSonde provides geophysical wireline log-type data on the nature of the rocks intersected in drill holes without separate mobilisation of a wireline logging crew or additional time requirements at the drill site. 

The device is deployed into the hole by the driller and analyses the rocks intersected as the drill rods are pulled out of the hole.

Other technologies that will be used as part of the MSDP involve the Wireless Sub to monitor drilling parameters and allow their analysis both at the drill site and remotely to optimise drilling performance and maximise productivity.

The Lab-at-Rig will also be used to provide near real-time x-ray fluorescence geochemistry and r-ray diffraction mineralogy on drill cuttings. This should provide greater confidence in assessing the prospectivity of the drill core. 

All results will be able to be monitored remotely and allow ongoing analysis of the drilling program, informing decisions such as whether to terminate or extend drill holes or whether to modify the location or trajectory of subsequent holes.

Together, it is expected the technologies will demonstrate a cost-effective exploration solution for deposits beneath barren cover and guide near real-time decision making about activities.

The collaboration has been encouraged by the Australian Academy of Science’s UNCOVER initiative to improve the success of mineral exploration in Australia.

The SA government has backed the MSDP with a $2 million investment that has been turned into a $7 million program through partner contributions and in-kind support.