Mineral and energy resources contributed ~50% of Australia’s exports and ~7% of GDP in 2017-2018. The future of this contribution is at risk due to the trend of the declining discovery of significant, new mineral deposits. The Council of Australian Governments has captured the challenge to Australian mining: “new greenfield discoveries are urgently required to ensure that an ongoing pipeline of mineral resource projects are available to meet future demands. Australia’s attractiveness as an exploration destination has been diminished by a range of factors including;
perceptions of Australia as a mature exploration destination where there are fewer opportunities for new discoveries;
challenges in exploring for deposits buried under the overlying sand, soil and sediment that covers much of Australia.”
There are few, if any, remaining major, new mineral deposits that are exposed at the Earth’s surface remaining to be found in Australia. The technical challenge of cost-effectively finding major, new mineral deposits hidden beneath barren cover rocks has not yet been met. Consequently, mineral exploration is moving from Australia to less well-explored countries with Australia’s share of global mineral exploration reducing from ~1/4 in the 1990s to ~1/8th currently.
In order to reverse this trend, we require a new set of exploration tools and new ways to deploy those tools which recognise the fundamental importance of collecting quantity and quality data from the subsurface. Collecting these data requires drilling.
MinEx CRC’s research includes:
Developing more productive, safer and environmentally-friendly drilling methods to discover and drill-out deposits, including coiled tubing drilling technology.
Developing new technologies for collecting data while drilling, bringing forward mine production.
Implementation of a National Drilling Initiative (NDI) - a world-first collaboration of Geological Surveys, researchers and industry that will undertake drilling in under-explored areas of potential mineral wealth in Australia.