The Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

12 October 2017

Mount Isa mine and city; weathered zinc ore, and high grade copper ore

The University of Queensland has been invited to take a leadership role in the design and management of the new $27.125 million Strategic Resources Exploration Program.

Announced by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, the program will focus on providing the tools, datasets and knowledge needed by explorers in North West Queensland to drive a new wave of mineral discoveries in the region.

It will also help meet global demand, especially for critical commodities used in industrial and new technology applications.

Professor Rick Valenta of UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) and the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre said this was a new compilation and data collection collaboration that would take a more holistic approach to the way we tackle the challenges.

He said industry, government and the research sector would work together to overcome problems and find new major mineral deposits.

“The North West Queensland region has one of the most highly endowed belts of copper, zinc, lead and silver in the world, and yet less than a third of the region has been effectively explored,” Professor Valenta said.

“The challenge of exploration under sedimentary cover has meant that industry has not been able to maintain the required rate of discovery, and mineral explorers need the best possible data and knowledge to be able to improve success rates in that environment.  

“There is an untapped resource of geological information available from public and industry sources, and our objective is to put this information into a form which maximises its usefulness for exploration, and applies best practice analytical techniques to extract full value from it.

“We aim to carry out new studies which will help explorers to target and drill new orebodies in the region.”

The program will produce new insights helping to target and explore for new deposits under younger sedimentary cover, and to recognise new deposits and their footprints.

This will be backed up by a comprehensive compilation of information relating to existing deposits in the region.

Director Production Centres at SMI Professor Alice Clark said the mineral resources of the North West contributed significantly to the economy and history of Queensland.

“We believe this program aims to ensure this contribution continues well into the future.”

Participants in the program include The Geological Survey of Queensland, Geoscience Australia, the Economic Geology Research Unit James Cook University, the ARC Centre for Ore Deposit and Exploration Studies University of Tasmania, The Centre for Exploration Targeting University of Western Australia, The University of Adelaide, CSIRO, and the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre.