An Australian researcher has developed a suite of geochemical tools that may save millions on drilling by more accurately targeting mineral deposits.
Dr Caroline Tiddy, a Senior Research Fellow in UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, says while global demand for copper and gold is growing, it is getting increasingly hard to find these metals – meaning explorers face increased costs as they drill deeper.
By mapping out where key chemical elements are found in greater concentrations, Dr Tiddy is creating geochemical algorithms that increase the chances of finding an ore deposit and decrease the cost of mineral exploration.
The tools she has developed have been successfully tested at the Prominent Hill iron oxide-copper-gold deposit in the north of South Australia, increasing the footprint of their ore body fourfold.
They have also been trialled in the Yorke Peninsula, highlighting unexplored areas of copper.
“South Australia has a reputation for its copper and gold deposits so these data-driven approaches to exploration are revealing important information about mineral exploration in the state,” Dr Tiddy said.
“By using these geochemical tools, companies can better focus their drilling resources into lower risk areas.
“Finding an economically viable copper-enriched area has the potential to generate revenues of up to $175 million a year as well as creating more than 500 jobs.”