Airborne survey reveals rich mineral deposits in Northern Australia

Map of the airborne electromagnetic survey with the conductivity sections projected above the survey area in Northern Territory and Queensland.

The Northern Territory and Queensland have shown potential for mineral deposits including gold, copper, nickel, lead, zinc and manganese, an airborne electromagnetic survey (AEM) by Geoscience Australia indicates.

Deposits of critical minerals such as cobalt, platinum-group elements and rare earth elements have also appeared in the results.

This is the second release from the AEM survey, which contains 60,000 line kilometres of data that provides insights into mineral-rich areas in Northern Australia that have not been extensively explored previously, according to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

“This is great news for Northern Australia, offering enormous potential for the next generation of resource discoveries,” Canavan said.

“Airborne electromagnetic surveys – or AEM – use aircraft-mounted equipment to map the electrical conductivity below the Earth’s surface to a depth of several hundred metres.

“This provides a detailed 3D picture – similar to a CT scan – that is used to map potential resources beneath the Earth’s surface in the prospective area between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa.”

When integrated with other datasets such as gravity, magnetic and radiometric maps of Australia, the AEM can reveal potential broad-scale groundwater resources to support communities, industries and the environment.

Thirteen exploration companies have signed up to participate in infill flying during the next survey, covering an equally large area of the west of the Northern Territory and into Western Australia.

“The government is committed to building a strong, growing economy that creates jobs, especially in Northern Australia,” Canavan said.

“That’s why we are investing heavily in word-class geoscience data acquisition programs, which are central to de-risking exploration and attracting more investment, an aim outlined in the recently released Australia’s National Resources Statement.

“The aim is to have the world’s most advanced, innovative and successful resources sector that delivers sustained prosperity and social development for all Australians.”

This world’s largest AEM was led by Geoscience Australia in collaboration with the Northern Territory Geological survey and the Geological Survey of Queensland. Geoscience Australia will continue to release more comprehensive data and analysis throughout 2019.

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