Groundwater holds key to metal detection

SCIENTISTS are using groundwater to locate gold and other high value resources.

SCIENTISTS are using groundwater to locate gold and other high value resources.

Also known as hydrogeochemical exploration, groundwater sampling to locate promising areas of mineralisation is a cost-effective new technique able to detect metals such as gold, nickel, copper, zinc and uranium.

Scientists with the Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship will analyse groundwater samples from one of Australia’s most prospective regions to help mineral explorers pinpoint areas for further investigation.

The new project for the Minerals and Energy Research Institute of Western Australia will take place over a vast area of the northern Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia.

“The northern Yilgarn is an arid area with potable groundwater, so it is dotted with windmills and bores used for agriculture. This gives us direct access to groundwater without the need for drilling,” says David Gray of CSIRO.

“CSIRO is experienced in locating and sampling suitable sites in remote areas and we have developed advanced techniques for obtaining mineral saturation data and other valuable exploration geochemical data.”

The project follows closely on the heels of a similar successful hydrogeochemical exploration project along the Leonora-Wiluna belt last year.

The project boasts 27 industry sponsors. This is a clear vote of confidence in the project by Australia’s mineral explorers, who hope the project will point towards undiscovered mineral deposits.

At this stage, companies are still welcome to join this consortium and share the benefits from early release of the technologies.

Hydrogeochemical exploration has the potential for mapping, environmental background establishment and mineral exploration across many other areas of Western Australia, especially outside recognised mineralisation belts.

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities.

The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

David Gray

Minerals Down Under

National Research Flagship

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