The Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) has reprioritized its 2020–21 work program due to the impact of travel and operational restrictions. By using its extensive, geoscience datasets and outstanding rock and paleontology collections, GSWA’s Accelerated Geoscience Program (AGP) will aid economic recovery and stimulate the exploration industry. GSWA will deliver new interpretive datasets across all areas of geoscience, in key regions of the State where work is currently underway. This will accelerate understanding of the regions’ geology and mineral prospectivity.
AGP main projects
The AGP has dedicated geoscientists from across GSWA concentrating their efforts on four main projects:
- Publication of existing data into GIS layers
- Data integration and analyses — the Yilgarn Craton
- Statewide critical minerals prospectivity study
- Energy systems including petroleum, geothermal, and carbon capture and storage.
The results will be published online as GIS layers available through the Data and Software Centre and GeoVIEW.WA, and within three, standalone Geological Exploration Packages (GEP). These will be a Southwest Yilgarn GEP, an East Yilgarn GEP and the Critical Minerals GEP. These standalone packages will facilitate use for all levels of technical competency and software, from prospectors to Tier 1 companies.
Publication of existing data into GIS layers
This project will deliver previously non-digital datasets as new, spatial datasets. The outcome will improve understanding of the prospectivity of the State which will feed into other projects in the AGP.
Data integration and analyses — the Yilgarn Craton
The Yilgarn Craton is one of Western Australia’s most prospective regions and contains significant deposits of gold, nickel, lithium, copper–zinc, iron ore, tantalum, aluminium and uranium. Recent high-grade gold and nickel discoveries in the craton’s far eastern (Gruyere, Tropicana, Neale) and southwestern margins (Julimar), have shown that these two poorly exposed and geologically not well-understood regions are likely to be as prospective as the craton’s interior (i.e. Eastern Goldfields). Despite both regions being covered by a thick blanket of regolith, GSWA holds a vast amount of geoscientific data relating to the bedrock and regolith geology with the potential for uncovering significant, new mineral deposits.
The minerals industry is increasingly aware that the new era of Tier 1 deposits is likely to be under deep cover. Working to the UNCOVER plan, the AGP will deliver new integrated geoscience datasets for the southwestern and far eastern Yilgarn Craton margins. The program will incorporate results of ongoing work in the Eastern Goldfields, and perform new analyses on archived samples, which will accelerate understanding of these regions and will define new areas of high mineral prospectivity.
Statewide critical minerals prospectivity study
Both the State and Federal Governments have outlined a list of minerals that are deemed critical for emerging high-tech applications and are considered essential for economic and industrial development over the next decade. Western Australia is well placed to capitalise on increasing demand for critical minerals as we transition globally to low-carbon technologies. Knowledge of the geological settings where these deposits are likely to be located not only reveals emerging exploration plays but allows the government the foresight to manage land for strategic industrial purposes such as downstream processing.
The aim of this project is to catalogue the known critical mineral resources of the State to better understand the mineral systems in which they occur and the associated alteration systems. These genetic associations can then be explored in existing GSWA datasets to provide a series of prospectivity maps for individual critical minerals. The results aim to stimulate and increase investment in the critical minerals sector by defining new exploration targets and releasing new parts of the State to exploration.
This project will create data layers of critical elements of petroleum and geothermal systems to enhance regional understanding of the prospectivity of the State’s potential energy resources including low-carbon technology.
The petroleum industry has been one of the most affected by COVID-19 having a simultaneous supply and demand shock caused by an oil price war that coincided with the start of the pandemic. This project aims to produce a graphic summary of the State’s well data in addition to other GIS layers that will directly benefit petroleum industry exploration. Other initiatives relate to decarbonisation such as CO2 geosequestration.
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