BHP studies Oak Dam with new exploration approach

The Oak Dam copper discovery in South Australia is still not locked in to become a new project despite ongoing drilling efforts, according to BHP.

Oak Dam, which contains significant copper intersections of up to six per cent, as well as gold, uranium and silver, was discovered by BHP in November 2018. The area is undergoing a second round of drilling to further define its mineralisation.

The prospective mineralised system was discovered during exploration drilling of four diamond drill holes totalling 5346 metres.

Despite proceeding to a second drilling round, BHP pointed out that it was still too early to determine whether or not the project would proceed to the next stage.

BHP chief technology officer Diane Jurgens, in a presentation at the Bank of America Merryll Lynch (BAML) SmartMine conference in London, said the company’s approach to technology was a way for geologists to identify opportunities “that were hidden to explorers in decades past” . 

Jurgens said to extract resources efficiently and maximise value, geological information would be required in a form that enables “better, earlier and faster decision making”.

“It was this new approach to interpreting exploration data that led, in November last year, to the Oak Dam copper discovery near our existing Olympic Dam operations in South Australia,” Jurgens said.

BHP discovered the deposit around 65 kilometres from its existing Olympic Dam mine by re-analysing older drilling data with advanced geophysics modelling technology, a tactic the company has employed as part of a technology-led exploration push across the company’s assets in Australia and several international territories.

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