Industry Interaction



CCFS has a strategic goal to interact closely with the mineral exploration industry at both the research and the teaching/training levels. The research results of the Centre’s work are transferred to industry and to the scientific community in several ways:

  • collaborative industry-supported Honours, MSc and PhD projects
  • short courses relevant to industry and government-sector users, designed to communicate and transfer new technologies, techniques and knowledge in the discipline areas relevant to CCFS
  • one-on-one research collaborations and shorter-term collaborative research on industry problems involving national and international partners
  • provision of high-quality geochemical analyses with value-added interpretations on a collaborative research basis with industry and government organisations, extending our industry interface
  • use of consultancies and collaborative industry projects (through the commercial arms of the national universities) which employ and disseminate the technological and conceptual developments carried out by the Centre
  • GLITTER, an on-line data-reduction program for Laser Ablation ICPMS analysis, developed by GEMOC and CSIRO/GEMOC participants, has been successfully commercialised and continues to be available from GEMOC through Access MQ (; the software is continually upgraded.
  • collaborative relationships with technology manufacturers (more detail in the section on Technology Development )

The Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET) at UWA ( provides CCFS with a unique interface with a broad spectrum of mineral exploration companies and many CET activities (e.g. research projects, workshops and postgraduate short courses).  


CCFS industry support includes:

  • direct funding of research programs 
  • industry subscriptions (CET)
  • “in kind” funding including field support (Australia and overseas), access to proprietary databases, sample collections, digital datasets and support for GIS platforms 
  • logistical support for fieldwork for postgraduate projects
  • collaborative research programs through ARC Linkage Projects and the University External Collaborative Grants (e.g. Macquarie’s Enterprise Grant Scheme) and PhD program support
  • assistance in the implementation of GIS technology in postgraduate programs 
  • participation of industry colleagues as guest lecturers in undergraduate units 
  • extended visits by industry personnel for interaction and research
  • ongoing informal provision of advice and formal input as members of the Advisory Board


  • TerraneChron® studies ( have enjoyed continued uptake by a significant segment of the global mineral exploration industry. This methodology, currently unique to CCFS/GEMOC, requires the integration of data from three instruments (electron microprobe, LAM-ICPMS and LAM-MC-ICPMS) and delivers fast, cost-effective information on the tectonic history of regional terranes ( 19 Major Industry Reports were completed for collaborative industry projects related to TerraneChron® at CCFS/GEMOC.
  • AMIRA and MERIWA supported a CET project aimed at unravelling the processes and mechanisms that result in PGE fractionation and concentration in mafic and ultramafic melts.
  • An ARC Linkage project commenced, aimed, at understanding the lithospheric architecture and mineral systems across the Neoarchaean to Paleoproterozoic time periods, specifically comparing the Yilgarn Craton, Tanami Orogen, and western African craton. This project is based at CET but involves cross-node participation in CCFS.
  • During 2011, Macquarie increased its collaborative project activity with Barrick Gold of Australia, applying the TerraneChron® method to their copper-gold exploration programs in Papua New Guinea and South America.
  • The Paleomagnetic group at Curtin and UWA were funded for a collaborative project with MMG (Minerals and Metal Group) to explore the spatiotemporal and tectonic controls on the location of clastic lead-zinc concentrations.
  • The ARC Linkage Project titled “Global Lithosphere Architecture Mapping” (GLAM) was extended as the “LAMP” (Lithosphere Architecture Mapping in Phanerozoic orogens) project through a Macquarie University Enterprise Grant with Minerals Targeting International as the external Industry partner. 
  • A sub-licencing agreement was executed with Minerals Targeting International to accommodate Dr Graham Begg’s role and access to GLAM IP (in relationship to Macquarie, BHP Billiton and the GLAM project) as Director of this company. Dr Begg spent significant research time at GEMOC through 2011 as part of the close collaborative working pattern for this project. 
  • GEMOC’s development of a methodology for analysis of trace elements in diamond continued to open up potential further developments and applications relevant to industry, ranging from diamond fingerprinting for a range of purposes to improving the knowledge framework for diamond exploration. This work is continuing, with a focus on understanding the growth and chemical history of individual diamonds and diamond populations. It was supported in 2011 by CCFS funds consequent on relinquishing an exisiting ARC Discovery Project, on which Dr Dan Howell is employed as a Research Associate. 
  • The GEMOC technique for dating the intrusion of kimberlites and lamproites using LAM-ICPMS U-Pb analysis of groundmass perovskite continued. This rapid, low-cost application has proven very attractive to the diamond exploration industry, and has led to several small collaborative projects; it was also applied in a 2011 ARC Linkage project sponsored by De Beers.
  • The application of U-series isotopes to groundwater studies for both exploration and investigation of palaeoclimate continued in 2011. Collaboration with Heathgate Resources at the Beverley Uranium mine in South Australia is investigating these processes using a well-constrained aquifer system in both a mining and exploration context. 
  • Geodynamic modelling capabilities have now been extended to industry-related projects. An ongoing collaboration between GEMOC and Granite Power Ltd has led to important data exchange, and to a paper (CCFS Publication #165) on the thermal and gravity structure of the Sydney Basin.
  • Studies on the controls of fractionation and concentration of platinum-group elements (PGE) in ultramafic magmas were finalised to the first stage in 2011 as part of the PhD project of Marek Locmelis, funded by AMIRA Project P710a. He continued this research as a Research Associate, and then joined CCFS Foundation Project 1, bringing his skills in this area. One research goal is to develop reliable geochemical indicators to guide exploration for magmatic nickel-sulfide deposits, with a particular focus on the role of chromite and olivine in the concentration and fractionation of PGE in komatiites. Industry partners are BHP Billiton, Independence Group NL, Norilsk Nickel, MERIWA and ARC. There is cross-node collaboration between the Centre for Exploration Targeting / University of Western Australia and Macquarie University, which also involves CSIRO Exploration and Mining and the Australian National University. 


Cam McCuaig addressing the participants at the CET corporate members day, December 2011.


  • A continuing collaborative relationship with New South Wales Geological Survey is applying TerraneChron® to investigations of the provenance of targeted sequences in the Paleozoic sedimentary terranes of eastern Australia, and the development of the Macquarie Arc.
  • A collaborative research project continued in 2011 with the Geological Survey of Western Australia as a formal CCFS Foundation Project, in which GEMOC is carrying out in situ Hf-isotope analyses of previously SHRIMP-dated zircon grains from across the state. This is a part of the WA government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme.
  • CET held their annual “Corporate Members Day”, 10 December 2011, to showcase its research to its Corporate Members. The day provided members with the oportunity to discuss the innovative work of the CET, including its involvement in CCFS, and also gave the CCFS ECR and postgraduate students a chance to interact with industry ( 
  • Industry visitors spent varying periods at Macquarie and UWA (CET) in 2011 to discuss our research and technology development (see visitor list, Appendix 5). This face-to-face interaction has proved highly effective both for CCFS researchers and industry colleagues.
  • DIATREEM (an AccessMQ Project) continued to provide LAM-ICPMS analyses of garnets and chromites to the diamond-exploration industry on a collaborative basis. 
  • CCFS publications, preprints and non-proprietary reports are available on request for industry libraries.
  • CCFS participants were prominent in delivering keynote and invited talks and workshop modules at national and international industry peak conferences in 2011. See Appendix 6 for abstract titles and Appendix 4 for recent Publications. 

A full list of previous GEMOC Publications is available at

CCFS projects funded by industry in 2011 are summarised below.



These are brief decsriptions of 2011 and current CCFS projects that have direct cash support from industry, with either formal ARC, internal University or State Government support status and timeframes of at least one year. Projects are both national and global. In addition to these formal projects, many shorter projects are directly funded by industry alone, and the results of these feed into our basic research databases (with varied confidentiality considerations). Such projects are administered by the commercial arms of the relevant universities (e.g. Access MQ Limited, at Macquarie).

CCFS industry collaborative projects are designed to develop the strategic and applied aspects of the basic research programs, and are many are based on understanding the architecture of the lithosphere and the nature of Earth’s geodynamic processes that have controlled the evolution of the lithosphere and its important discontinuities. Basic research strands translated to strategic applications include the use of geochemical data on crustal and mantle rocks and integration with tectonic analyses and large-scale datasets (including geophysical data) to understand the relationship between lithosphere domains and large-scale mineralisation. The use of sulfides to date mantle events, and the characterisation of crustal terrane development using U-Pb dating and Hf isotopic compositions of zircons provide more information for integration with geophysical modelling. TerraneChron® (see Research Highlights) is an important tool for characterising the tectonic history and crustal evolution of terranes on the scale of 10 – 100 km and delivers a cost-effective exploration tool to the mineral (and potentially petroleum) exploration industry. 

The Paleomagnetic group at Curtin and UWA are exploring the spatiotemporal and tectonic controls on the location of clastic lead-zinc concentrations, based on their basic research focus of reconstructing continental configurations.



Lithospheric Architecture Mapping in Phanerozoic Orogens

Supported by MQ Enterprise Partnership Scheme Pilot Research Grant (MQPSPRG)
Industry Collaborator: Minerals Targeting International (PI G. Begg)
CIs: Griffin, O’Reilly, Pearson, Belousova, Natapov 
Summary: The GEMOC Key Centre has developed the conceptual and technological tools required to map the architecture and evolution of the upper lithosphere (0-250 km depth) of cratons (the ancient nuclei of continents). Through two industry-funded programmes we have mapped most of the world’s cratons, making up ca 70% of Earth’s surface. The remaining 30% consists of younger mobile belts, which hold many major ore deposits, but are much more complex and difficult to map. This pilot project is developing the additional tools required to map the mobile belts. 


A novel approach to economic uranium deposit exploration and environmental studies

Supported by ARC Linkage Project
Industry Collaborator: Heathgate Resources
CIs: Turner, Schaefer, McConachy
The project proposes the use of a novel approach to prospecting for economic uranium ore deposits. The measurement of radioactive decay products of uranium in waters (streams and aquifers) and sediments will allow us to (i) identify and locate economic uranium ore deposits and (ii) quantify the rate of release of uranium and decay products during weathering and hence the evolution of the landscape over time. In addition, this project will improve our knowledge of the mobility of radioactive elements during rock-water interaction, which can be used to assess the safety of radioactive waste disposal. Outcomes of this project will be: (i) the discovery of new economic uranium deposits; (ii) development of a new exploration technology allowing for improved ore deposit targeting. Information gained on the behaviour of radioactive elements at the Earth’s surface will be critical for the study of safety issues related to radioactive waste storage and obtaining reliable time constraints on the evolution of the Australian landscape.


Mechanisms of PGE fractionation and concentration in mafic and ultramafic melts

Supported by AMIRA and MERIWA and an international postgraduate scholarship from Macquarie University
Industry Collaborators: BHP Billiton, Independence, LionOre
CIs: Dr M. Fiorentini with PhD student M. Locmelis across Macquarie and UWA nodes
Summary: A long-standing goal of research on nickel-sulfide (NiS) deposits has been the development of reliable lithogeochemical indicators that can act as guides for exploration. In order to better constrain how platinum-group element (PGE) signatures may be utilised as pathfinders for NiS deposits, this project focuses on the processes that control the fractionation and concentration of PGE in mafic and ultramafic magma types. The study looks into a range of variables controlling PGE geochemistry, including the role of sulfides (i.e. pentlandite, millerite), oxides (i.e. chromite), silicate phases (i.e. olivine, pyroxene) and platinum-group minerals (i.e. alloys, antimonides, arsenides, tellurides) in the concentration and fractionation of PGE in mineralised and barren sequences. Furthermore, the study investigates the spatial relationship between the PGE signature of mafic and ultramafic rocks and the occurrence of various types of NiS mineralisation, thus optimising the use of the PGEs as vectors towards mineralised environments. See Research highlight p. 80.


PaleoplateGIS quantification of the latitude and tectonic triggers for CD deposits in ancient passive margins

Industry Collaborators: Minerals and Metals Group (MMG)
CIs: D. Leach, Z.-X. Li, S. Pisarevsky and S. Gardoll 
This pilot project commenced in 2011, aimed at a better understanding of the spatiotemporal and tectonic controls on the distribution of clastic-dominated (CD) lead-zinc deposits. We will compare the distribution of the known deposits with the latest plate-tectonic models, which will aid in understanding and testing some of the fundamental questions and hypotheses.


Composition, structure and evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath southern Africa: improving area selection criteria for diamond exploration

Supported by ARC Linkage Project
Industry Collaborator: De Beers
CIs: Griffin, O’Reilly, Pearson
Summary: Trace-element analyses of garnet and chromite grains from kimberlites distributed across the Kaapvaal craton and the adjacent mobile belts will be used to construct 2D and 3D models of compositional and thermal variation in the lithospheric mantle (to ~250 km depth), in several time slices. Regional and high-resolution geophysical datasets (e.g. seismic, magnetotelluric, gravity) will be used to test and refine this model. Links between changes in the compositional structure of the lithospheric mantle and far-field tectonic events will be investigated using 4-D plate reconstructions. The results will identify factors that localise the timing and distribution of diamondiferous kimberlites, leading to new exploration targeting strategies.


Four-dimensional lithospheric evolution and controls on mineral system distribution in Neoarchaen to Paleoproterozoic terranes

Supported by ARC Linkage Project 
Industry Collaborator: WA Department of Mines and Petroleum 
CIs: McCuaig, Barley, Fiorentini, Kemp, Belousova, Jessell, Hein, Begg, Tunjic, Bagas, Said, Bagas 
This project will obtain a better understanding of the evolution, architecture and preservation of continents and their links to mineral deposits between 2.7 and 1.8 billion years ago (a period in Earth history that is endowed with mineral deposits and reflects a very important transition in the evolution of our planet and its biosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere). By producing and integrating new high quality geophysical and geochemical data and making a major contribution to training students and researchers, the project aims to develop a superior model to help understanding Earth’s evolution and target areas of high prospectivity for important mineral deposits. The results will be applicable to exploration in Australia and world-wide.


Tectonic evolution and lode gold mineralisation in the Southern Cross district, Yilgarn Craton (Western Australia): a study of the meso- to Neoarchaean missing link

Supported by ARC Linkage Project
Industry Collaborators: Geological Survey of Western Australia
CIs: Barley, McCuaig, Gessner, Miller, Thebaud, Tohver, Doublier, Romano, Wyche, Partner Organisations
In the December quarter 2008, Gold export earnings increased by 2 per cent to $3.9 billion despite an increase in exploration expenditure to around $50 million per year, the discovery rates have been declining. Although the easy targets have been found, there remains considerable potential for future major discoveries. This project addresses the pressing need for new data and improved exploration techniques to enable industry to target new discoveries. As the Southern Cross district is located in remote communities such discoveries also have major benefits for regional Australia.


Multiscale dynamics of ore body formation

Supported by ARC Linkage Project 
Industry Collaborator: Geocrust Pty Ltd, Geological Survey of Western Australia, Golden Phoenix International Pty Ltd, Mineral Mapping Pty Ltd, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA), Silver Swan Group Ltd, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Vearncombe & Associates Pty Ltd, Western Mining Services (Australia) Pty Ltd
CIs: Gessner, McCuaig, Hobbs, Cawood, Gorczyk, Connolly, Gerya, O’Neill, Lester 
Future discoveries of giant ore-bodies will undoubtedly be under surface cover. Modelling of new data from South Australia and Western Australia will define targeting criteria for new major ore-bodies, thus exploiting Australia’s deep earth resource potential. New understanding of controls on mineralisation decreases exploration risk. Ore-bodies such as Olympic Dam have made major contributions to Australia’s economy over past decades and promise to add increased value over future decades. This project enhances the probability that at least one other ore-body of this type will be discovered. Such discoveries contribute directly to the wealth of Australia through export earnings and accelerate the development of regional infrastructure and new technological development.


Hydrothermal remobilisation of base metals and platinum group elements in magmatic nickel deposits

Supported by ARC Linkage Project 
Industry Collaborator: WA Department of Mines and Petroleum
CIs: Fiorentini, Brugger, Barnes, Perring 
This study combines new observations about the remobilisation of base metals, gold and PGE around known nickel-sulphide deposits, with compilation of the thermodynamic data and critical experiments aimed at answering fundamental questions about the geochemistry of nickel, cobalt and the PGE in hydrothermal systems. An essential component of this work will be in unravelling the multiple episodes of alteration and deformation, which have affected many deposits in greenstone terrains. Among other approaches, this will require understanding of the geochemistry of hydrothermal circulation systems operating before, during and after deformation. The behaviour of critical elements such as nickel, cobalt and the PGE in hydrothermal solution is relatively poorly understood; we will use recent developments in experimental geochemistry to decipher, in particular, the role of sulphur and chloride in the development of alterations halos around these deposits.