CSIRO has discovered that distinctive rock patterns in the Yilgarn province in Western Australia could indicate the presence of gold deposits.
While traditional methods of mineral exploration focus on geological and geophysical mapping to uncover hidden deposits in rocks, researchers from CSIRO instead analysed the chemical systems of sediments in the area.
When ancient gold deposits formed over 2.5 billion years ago, patterns of chemical alteration were formed on nearby rocks, which can provide valuable clues towards finding new gold deposits.
CSIRO is confident in the potential of this method to assist with exploration projects across the globe.
For CSIRO director of mineral resources Rob Hough, the research will encourage more beneficial and sustainable mineral exploration.
“This research project is a great example of CSIRO’s close collaboration with the Western Australian Government and MRIWA (Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia), to support a productive, sustainable and globally competitive mineral resources industry for the benefit of Australia,” he said.
“We have world leading research capabilities in Perth and welcome opportunities to develop minerals sector innovation in partnership with the industry and government.”
The research project was backed by the Western Australian government through the MRIWA.
Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the discovery would help bring attention towards overlooked areas in the eastern Yilgarn province.
“The discovery of these chemical signatures could greatly assist exploration in the eastern Yilgarn which, despite sharing its geology with the Eastern Goldfields, has produced fewer gold discoveries than expected,” he said.
“This research will help reduce the risk in targeting ore bodies buried beneath the surface, that conventional exploration has failed to identify, and will encourage investment in under-explored areas in our state.
“By investing in MRIWA research, the McGowan Government is supporting the mineral exploration industry with the tools and insights needed to find the next generation of gold deposits.”