The MinEx CRC National Drilling Initiative

Budd, Anthony 1,2

1 Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia; 2 MinEx CRC, Canberra, Australia

Approximately 80% of Australia has some form of cover rocks obscuring potentially mineralised geological regions. In order to remain internationally competitive for exploration investment, government geoscience agencies around Australia provide precompetitive geoscience data to lower exploration risk. Mostly this has been geophysical data to see through cover – MinEx CRC is developing new tools and opportunities to sample bedrock directly by drilling.

MinEx CRC was established in 2018 under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centre program (www.minexcrc.com.au). MinEx CRC has three Programs: Program 1 is developing new drilling technologies; Program 2 is developing new ways of gaining data from drilling; and Program 3 is the National Drilling Initiative (NDI).

The NDI is conducting drilling campaigns in selected areas as determined by each sponsoring geological survey. During September-November 2020, two campaigns are underway on behalf of Geoscience Australia (GA) with the Northern Territory Geological Survey in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory. A program of 10 holes of depths between ~300-500 m is designed test a range of stratigraphic and mineral system targets in the East Tennant region. The East Tennant area was selected during GA’s Exploring for the Future Program (https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf) as a possible extension to the Tennant Creek mineralised region. A single deep stratigraphic borehole (~2000 m) is underway to test the Carrara Sub-basin recently identified in the Barkly Seismic Program of the EFTF (https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf/energy/barkly-seismic-survey) in the South Nicholson area. Both of these campaigns are being conducted using conventional drilling methods.

In 2021 two campaigns are expected to be conducted utilising the RoXplorer Coiled Tube drilling rig undergoing further development by MinEx CRC Program 1 (https://minexcrc.com.au/program-one-drilling-technologies/project-2-coiled-tubing-drilling-for-definition-of-mineral-deposits/). MinEx CRC will conduct drilling on behalf of the GSWA in the East Yilgarn, and in two areas of the Delamerian for the GSSA. Further campaigns are planned for the North and South Cobar, Mundi, Dubbo and Forbes areas for the GSNSW, and the Tabberabberan for the GSV. Additional drilling campaigns are likely to be undertaken in other areas later in the life of the MinEx CRC.

MinEx CRC picks up from three previous CRCs: DET CRC for the RoXplorer and associated technologies; CRC LEME for exploration through cover using cover materials; and the pmd*CRC for mineral systems analysis. Taking a mineral systems approach, the Geological Architecture and Evolution project provides new data and interpretations in the drilled areas to underpin mineral systems analysis, and develops new technologies and methodologies for acquiring and interpreting this data.

The Targeting Mineral Systems in Covered Terranes project deploys fit-for-purpose data and geoscience analytical techniques designed to identify and map mineral system footprints within cover and underlying basement and apply a suite of mineral systems mapping tools designed to identify and prioritise areas of high prospectivity.

The Maximising the Value of Data and Drilling Through Cover project provides the tools and data infrastructure to facilitate upload and management of legacy and NDI drilling data delivered to stakeholders and researchers in near real-time, and to the broader geoscience community in efficient time frames.


Biography

Anthony is the Program 3/National Drilling Initiative Leader for the MinEx CRC, a joint appointment with Geoscience Australia. Anthony has worked at Geoscience Australia for 25 years in Minerals, Geothermal and Unconventional Gas, as well as Advice, Assessment and Promotions

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.