Searching for new economy minerals

We know there are deposits of new economy minerals in a broad corridor from Mount Isa to Townsville and we are currently exploring these areas through numerous initiatives. Many new economy minerals are located alongside traditional commodities and, with this in mind, we are focusing on the following 2 areas to locate and utilise these minerals:

New exploration activities

Exploration activities, such as geophysical surveys, help us discover new deposits of minerals. The following projects involve searching for minerals as well as looking at ways in which we can sustainably extract them.

Kamilaroi airborne magnetic survey

GSQ is undertaking an airborne magnetic survey north of Mount Isa, following the known trend of cobalt mineralisation associated with major copper deposits. This survey will better define key structures known to be responsible for this style of mineralisation. The survey has the potential to open up exploration for copper and cobalt in previously under-explored areas.

Canobie gravity gradiometry survey

GSQ will undertake a high-resolution gravity gradiometry survey north of Cloncurry, including the Saxby area, to assist with targeting for new economy mineral and iron-oxide-copper-gold deposits (IOCG). In addition to being a major source of copper in the North West, IOCG deposits are a key host to other critical minerals such as cobalt and rare earth elements.

Carpentaria Conductivity Anomaly MT survey

GSQ is undertaking 2 broad-scale magneto-telluric (MT) surveys to the south and east of Cloncurry to map out the Carpentaria Conductivity Anomaly, a geological feature that may be prospective for copper, cobalt and rare earth elements.

Re-imagine Queensland’s phosphate deposits

This project will define an entirely new class of rare earth element (REE) deposits in Queensland. The project is focused on REE mineralisation along a 1,000km belt of the North West Minerals Province, from Boulia to Century.

Extracting rare earth elements sustainably

This initiative is crucial to the future development of an entire REE supply chain. By demonstrating an economic and environmentally sustainable extraction method for REE, numerous exploration-stage REE projects will become viable.

Commercialising these techniques will create new jobs in and around a Queensland-based processing facility, with flow-on benefits for communities and the region.

Determining the rare earth element potential of Queensland’s basins

Researchers at Adelaide University have developed a cutting-edge model for rare earth mineralisation in basin environments. GSQ will conduct a project in collaboration with Adelaide University to develop this model further with particular reference to specific examples and regions in North West Queensland, such as the Georgina Basin around Mount Isa. This model will enable explorers to identify prospective target areas more effectively.

Collaborative Exploration Initiative

The Collaborative Exploration Initiative (CEI) supports innovative mineral exploration by providing grants to companies undertaking higher-risk exploration activities, or activities in previously under-explored areas of Queensland.

Re-examining existing mines

We are always looking at ways to sustainably re-use old mines. In our search for new economy minerals, we are analysing waste from existing mines, and looking at old mines to see if they contain viable deposits.

Analysing mine waste materials and core samples

In collaboration with the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland, the Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ) is re-analysing samples from mine waste materials at mine sites throughout Queensland, to identify new economy mineral opportunities.

In the past, cost constraints prevented many companies from analysing drill core samples beyond a restricted suite of metals when conducting their exploration programs. For example, a copper explorer might typically examine core only for copper, lead, zinc and possibly gold and silver. Cobalt, which may be associated with copper, was not commonly included in those examinations.

GSQ is re-analysing large volumes of core samples obtained from known deposits. GSQ has access to a large number of representative drill core and surface samples through its drill core libraries, as well as through collaborative relationships with key Queensland explorers. This information will be digitised and released to the public.

Reusing old mines

There are a number of previously mined sites in Queensland that have returned to state control that may contain untapped opportunities. These sites are ideal for exploitation as they are on existing mining leases, infrastructure in some cases already exists and the resources are above ground. In collaboration with The University of Queensland, we are examining the prospectivity of mine waste (tailings, stockpiles, waste dumps) for new economy minerals, and finding opportunities for further development. If new economy minerals are found, sites could be re-packaged and offered back to market, perhaps with incentives or collaborative arrangements to address any legacy environmental issues.

More information

Last updated 13 October 2021

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