A new research centre has been established to help reduce the cost of mineral exploration in Australia.
The newly established MinEx Cooperative Research Centre (MinEx CRC) will begin operating in July at the University of South Australia, and in Western Australia.
Chief Scientific Officer for the MinEx CRC and John Ralston Chair in Minerals, Professor David Giles, said his objective is to enhance the efficiency of Australia's minerals exploration.
“In the Australian context, the cost of exploration for new deposits has risen over the past 30 years and our success rate has declined,” Giles said.
As demand remains high for metal and mineral exports, rising costs remain a significant barrier.
China is still a major recipient of exports from Australia, and while demand and exports have fluctuated over the last few years, the overall trend is firmly upwards.
“We need to improve our performance if mineral resources are to continue their significant contribution to the Australian economy. Mineral resources contributed about 50 per cent of Australia’s exports and about 10 per cent of our GDP in 2015-16," Giles continued.
“Our efforts at the CRC will focus on developing safer, more productive, and more environmentally friendly drilling methods and technologies, to discover new minerals deposits and support the long-term future of the industry.”
Australia Bureau of Statistics data show exploration success in Australia has declined over the last nine years with the cost of exploration per metre drilled increasing from $89/m in 1997 to $207/m in 2017. Additionally, Australia’s share of the global mineral budget has declined for the past two decades.
Prof Giles said cheaper and more effective drilling technologies have the potential to improve the discovery and affordability of establishing new mineral deposits, leading to a more competitive and sustainable mining industry nationally.
Supported by a $50 million grant from the Australian Government and more than $150 million in cash and in-kind support from industry participants, the MinEx CRC will develop cost-effective and eco-friendly mining technologies related to in-field sensing and real-time data analytics.
It will also oversee the deployment of new technologies in a nationwide drilling programme aimed at collecting mineral exploration data on unsampled rocks that are prospective for minerals.