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World's largest airborne electromagnetic survey reveals more mineral potential in the north

19 March 2019

Potential new mineral and groundwater resources in the Northern Territory and Queensland have been revealed by results of the world’s largest airborne electromagnetic survey, released today.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the survey indicated potential for new mineral deposits including gold, copper, nickel, lead, zinc and manganese, as well as critical minerals such as cobalt, platinum-group elements and rare-earth elements.

“The survey containing 60,000 line kilometres of data provides new insights into mineral-rich areas in Northern Australia that have not been extensively explored previously,” Minister 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.

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

Minister Canavan said the data have received huge interest, with 13 exploration companies already signed up to participate in infill flying during the next survey, which will be acquired across an equally large area of the west of the Northern Territory and into Western Australia.

“The Coalition Government is committed to building a strong, growing economy that creates jobs, especially in Northern Australia,” Minister 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.

“This statement is a new national policy framework vital for planning and stability in the resources industry.

“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.”

Note: The new geoscience data – collected by Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program, in partnership with the Northern Territory and Queensland Geological Surveys – were released at the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) in Alice Springs today.

This is the second release from the AusAEM survey. The first release was announced in June 2018 at the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Convention.

The latest AusAEM data release is on show at the 2019 AGES in Alice Springs today, along with other exploration research including: further analysis on the South Nicholson Basin region, world first preliminary national-scale lead isotope maps of Australia, and new northern Australia geochemical data. Geoscience Australia will continue to release more comprehensive data and analysis throughout 2019. 

More information is available at http://www.ga.gov.au/ausaem .

Media contact: Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180