Rising tide in South Australia

With exploration booming South Australia's minerals have piqued the interest of a growing number of investors and businesses. 
Earlier this year news surfaced that Pilbara iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group had even taken notice. 
Last year FMG applied for 10 exploration licences in South Australia based loosely around the state's interior. 
The lodgings were followed by three new applications this year much closer to Adelaide. 
According to Government records FMG's new licences are in the Myponga, Yankalilla, and Delamere areas of South Australia. 
The applications are close to residential developments, ranging from between 40km to 80km south of Adelaide. 
The applications mark a significant departure from the companies current iron ore interests. 
South of Adelaide records show FMG is looking for gold and copper. 
The exploration regions stretch down the coast and lie close to several towns. 
One licence lies around one kilometre from tourist destination Sellicks Beach. 
In this part of the State FMG is primarily on its own but its southernmost tenement is bordered by an application from Helix ­Resources, to search for uranium, silver, gold, zinc, copper, and lead. 
To the north it's a different story, with FMG sharing a much more prospective area with a host of other companies. 
In this region FMG says it's looking for uranium, gold, and copper reserves, with the bulk of its tenements between Oz Minerals' Prominent Hill and BHP Billiton's massive Olympic Dam development. Flinders Mines and Tasman Resources share borders with FMG's licences, but the surrounding area is full of exploration by small and large companies. 
BHP is also exploring land adjacent to Olympic Dam, the world's largest uranium deposit and fourth largest copper deposit. 
Several of these exploration tenements were bought by BHP from Archer Exploration last year for around $3 million. 
These expansions form part of the resources giant's plans to develop more sites around the Olympic Dam project. 
Earlier this year news emerged BHP may have found a good deposit at Wirrda Well, 20km south of Olympic Dam. 
The find spurred speculation on the company's plans for SA and the Stuart Shelf/Olympic Dam region. 
Several companies have identified the Stuart Shelf as "highly prospective," including UXA Resources and Straits Resources. 
Some industry observers speculated BHP's expanding interest in the region, including the earlier acquisition of Archer's tenements, indicates a desire to control the area. 
But the potential of this lower part of central South Australia expands beyond Olympic Dam. WPG Resources has also had success in developing its Peculiar Knob project and Oz Minerals' Prominent Hill operation is well known throughout the industry. 
With players like FMG and BHP, as well as other competent juniors spending in the region, more mines may soon come online. 
FMG's interest in SA is not the first time the com­pany has looked beyond iron ore deposits in WA. 
The company has previously expressed an interest in forming partnerships with the development of several overseas projects, particularly in Mongolia, and it previously established a coal exploration team in QLD and New Zealand. FMG last year pegged ­metallurgical coal tenements in the Bowen Basin at the same time it was looking in South  Australia. 
Both moves to diversify would protect the company from any decrease in the iron ore price and take it closer to its diversified rivals BHP and Rio Tinto. 
FMG's move toward coal would also make sense because some of its largest investors run steel mills in China. 
FMG has so far not gone into details about how it plans to operate in SA or other parts of the country. 
Drilling schedules and other concrete information have been unavailable, and at present the licences only represent an intention to hold a stake in SA's growing industry. 
Quizzed earlier in the year about its plans FMG said its focus remained on the Pilbara and there were no firm plans for more specu­lative regions. 
"Fortescue has built a global mining house based on securing early land positions in prospective regions, so where opportunities exist to assess and secure highly prospective, early stage exploration tenements we will do so," it said. 
But FMG's interest in SA should not be overstated. 
At present its plans are undeveloped, but they point to the wider issue in the state's exploration boom. 
While the State Government and industry representatives like the SA Chamber of Mining and Energy can spruik SA's potential its real viability is best seen in the words of a resources company. 
FMG, a top tier iron ore company, rating SA "highly prospective" says it all. 
While SA remains under reported in Australia compared to WA and QLD for those in the know it remains an exciting possibility. 
 

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