INDUSTRY INTERACTION AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ACTIVITIES
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 (http://www.gemoc.mq.edu.au/); the software is continually upgraded.
- collaborative relationships with technology manufacturers (more detail in the section on Infrastructure and technology development)
The Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET) at UWA (http://www.cet.edu.au/industry-linkage) 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 suports the national UNCOVER initiative: CCFS Chief and Associate Investigators, collaborating researchers and Board members have been instrumental in shaping UNCOVER Australia and the 2017 AMIRA “Undercover Roadmap” (ROADMAP). Indeed the 4-D Lithosphere Mapping approach, established by GEMOC and CCFS with industry partners, forms the robust conceptual basis for UNCOVER, contributed significantly to the AMIRA Roadmap process, and has become part of the vernacular in smart exploration strategies.|
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
ACTIVITIES IN 2020
- Several new geochronology and geochemistry projects with the minerals industry, including FMG, Atlas Iron, Anglo American, Breaker Resources, Latitude 66 Cobalt and Regis Resources, commenced.
- TerraneChron® studies (see p. 50 and http://www.gemoc.mq.edu.au/TerraneChron.html) 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 (http://www.gemoc.mq.edu.au/TerraneChron.html). The unique, extensive database (over 32,000 zircon U-Pb and Hf-isotope analyses) in the Macquarie laboratory allows unparalleled contextual information in the interpretations and reports provided to industry. Associate Professor Elena Belousova delivered several invited presentations in 2020 titled TerraneChron®’s trajectory 2000-2030.
- The CCFS collaboration with Shefa Yamim (A.T.M.) Ltd. (Akko, Israel) continued in 2020. As part of the collaboration the mineral Carmeltazite was discovered in pockets of trapped melt in corundum xenocrysts from the Cretaceous Mt Carmel volcanics of northern Israel by CCFS’s Bill Griffin, Sarah Gain, Luca Bindi (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy), Vered Toledo (Shefa Yamim Ltd., Israel), Fernando Cámara (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy), Martin Saunders (UWA) and Sue Y. O’Reilly. In 2020, two new minerals, kishonite (VH2) and oreillyite (Cr2N) (see https://www.auscope.org.au/news-features/oreillyite) were described (CCFS Publication #1542), the latter named after Suzanne O’Reilly, Director of CCFS.
- The popular annual event, GSWA Open Day 2020, was held on Friday, 21 February at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. The event showcased the latest geological information and major activities of the GSWA.
- The “LAMP” (Lithosphere Architecture Mapping in Phanerozoic orogens) project was originally funded through a Macquarie University Enterprise Grant with Minerals Targeting International as the external industry partner. A sub-licensing agreement with Minerals Targeting International accommodates 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. A project “Archean mantle and plate tectonics: the seismic record of arc magmatism” continued in 2020. The multi-disciplinary project (geophysics, geochemistry and modelling) will examine the robustness of global horizontal-Vs tomographic models. The project also aims to characterise the seismic signature of subduction zones in ancient terranes. The role of subduction processes in the formation of mineral deposits (e.g. Cu, Au) in these ancient terranes, now undercover, is critical for future mineral exploration. Dr Begg visited CCFS/GEMOC several times in 2020 as part of the close collaborative working pattern for this project.
- In the project “Developing thermochemical models of Australia’s lithosphere” funded by GA, researchers from GA and CCFS are using and further developing the LitMod inversion platform to study the deep architecture and thermochemical structure of the Australian continent using recently acquired datasets from the AusLAMP and AusArray national initiatives. This represents one of the largest probabilistic inversions ever attempted, which required the development of efficient multi-algorithm techniques and parallel software infrastructure.
- Industry partners provided mentoring and both logistical and financial support for CCFS postgraduate research projects in 2020. Through a Cotutelle PhD, the Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM) is collaborating by providing samples for Lynthener Takenaka de Oliveira’s PhD project, including mineral concentrates, diamonds and thin sections. The collaboration also allows access to internal geochemistry datasets, geophysical and geological maps, software licences and collaboration with other researchers from the company on data treatment, interpretation and scientific writing. A project funded by Northern Star Resources provides funding for Dennis Sugiono’s PhD project, including a PhD scholarship as well as additional funding for analytical costs and travel. Other participating organisations include BHP Billiton (BHP Chile Inc.), Barrick Exploration (Compania Minera Barrick Chile Ltd.), Teck Resources Ltd, CSIRO, ANSTO and MRIWA. See CCFS postgraduates (p. 33) for a full list of postgraduate projects.
- BHP partnered with UNSW’s Big Questions Institute through M Van Kranendonk to support outreach activities to attract students into STEM; research on Life on Mars, conservation of Pilbara stromatolites.
- In 2020, interaction continued with BHP on the utilisation of detrital minerals in the exploration for porphyry systems. The project involves a PhD student (Gonzalo Henriquez) and long-term CCFS collaborator Bob Loucks. This work has laid a robust foundation for the establishment of a new 3-year BHP-funded project that started in late 2020 in collaboration with the University of Bristol, UK.
- A new multi-sponsored MRIWA project (M 530 Yilgarn 2020) has continued in 2020. The project aims to constrain the multi-scale controls on the metal endowment of the Yilgarn Craton. A lot of this work is underpinned by science that was developed throughout CCFS.
- Ongoing engagement with IGO aims to develop a predictive understanding of the genesis of chonoliths that contain magmatic nickel-sulfide mineralisation. The work is focused at the Nova-Bollinger Nickel Deposit, in the Albany-Fraser Belt of Western Australia.
- Industry visitors spent varying periods at Macquarie, Curtin and UWA (CET) in 2020 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.
- 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, and convening sessions relevant to mineral exploration at national and international industry peak conferences in 2018 ( see Abstracts, Appendix 4).
CCFS supports the national UNCOVER initiative
A full list of previous GEMOC publications is available at here
Current industry-funded collaborative research projects
These are brief descriptions of current CCFS projects that have direct cash support from industry, most with combinations from ARC, internal University or State Government support. Projects are both national and global. In addition to these formal projects, many shorter projects are directly funded by industry, 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.
CCFS industry collaborative projects are designed to develop the strategic aspects and applications stemming from the fundamental research programs; 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. The basic research strands that have given rise to strategic applications include the use of geochemical data integrated with tectonic analyses and large-scale datasets (including geophysical) 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 (TerraneChron®) have been developed as regional isotopic mapping tools for integration with geophysical modelling. This integrated approach, has been widely adopted by a significant proportion of the mineral exploration industry and has resulted in the granting of licence to use methodologies developed.
CCFS PROJECTS FUNDED BY INDUSTRY (INCLUDING ARC LINKAGE)
Australian Lithospheric Architecture Magnetotelluric Project (AusLAMP)
Linkage Project (LP170100233)
Industry Collaborators: CSIRO, Geological Survey of NSW Geological Survey of South Australia, Geoscience Australia, Northern Territory Geological Survey
CIs: Regenauer-Lieb, Afonso, Clark, Thiel, Czarnota, Poulet, Jones, Walsh Summary: This project aims to provide a newly developed science approach to the Australian Lithospheric Architecture Magnetotelluric Project (AusLAMP). AusLAMP provides unparalleled geophysical information aimed at unravelling the tectonic history of the Australian continent and its mineral potential. The project will use thermodynamically based geodynamic simulators to jointly analyse and quantify intraplate deformation. This will illuminate the cause of driving fluid flow thorough the lithosphere, mineralisation phenomena, their datasets and geometries, and dynamic aspects of the processes driving mineral systems.
Mitigating 3D geological risk in resources management
Linkage Project (LP170100985)
Industry Collaborators: AUSCOPE, British Geological Survey, Department of Planning and Environment, Geological Survey of Canada, Geological Survey of South Australia, GSWA, Geoscience Australia, Northern Territory Geological Survey, Research for Integrative Numerical Geology, Georessources - Université de Lorraine, RWTH Aachen University of Technology, Germany
CIs: Ailleres, Jessell, de Kemp, Caumon, Wellmann, Armit, Droniou, Lindsay, Cui, Betts, Cruden, Kemp, Gessner, Spampinato, Harrison, Kessler Summary: The project aims to develop technologies to mitigate 3D geological risk in resources management. The project is expected to create new knowledge and methods in the field of 3D geological modelling through the innovative application of mathematical methods, structural geology concepts and cutting-edge probabilistic programming. The expected outcomes are an enhanced capability to model the subsurface, characterise model uncertainty and test multiple geological scenarios. This enhanced capability is extremely important for the future of Australia’s subsurface management; including urban geology and our continuously growing sustainable resources industry (including water).
Enhanced 3-D seismic structure for Southwest Australia
Linkage Project (LP180101118)
Industry Collaborators: Geological Survey of Western Australia ; Geoscience Australia; Department of Fire and Emergency Service
CIs: Miller, Kennett, Yuan, Allen, Gray, Gessner
Summary: The aim of this project is to develop a geophysically relevant proton conduction model for the Earth’s upper mantle. This will allow the robust interpretation of conductivity maps of the interior of the Earth and the discovery of major new mineral deposits. This advance will be achieved through four major initiatives based on recently developed experimental and computational facilities. This project will develop new methods for determining rock conductivities and subsurface mapping from combined datasets. We will obtain new insights into the structure and dynamics of the upper mantle as well as providing key data necessary for a national effort aimed at reestablishing Australia as a primary target for mineral exploration.
Archean mantle and plate tectonics: the seismic record of arc magmatism
Industry Collaborator: Minerals Targeting International (PI G. Begg)
CIs: Griffin, O’Reilly, Begg
Summary: This multi-disciplinary project (geophysics, geochemistry and modelling) will examine the robustness of global horizontal-Vs tomographic models. The project also aims to characterise the seismic signature of subduction zones in ancient terranes. The role of subduction processes in the formation of mineral deposits (e.g. Cu, Au) in these ancient terranes, now undercover, is critical for future mineral exploration.
Multiple sulfur isotope systematics of the Kanowna Belle Gold deposit
Industry Collaborator: Northern Star Resources Ltd
CIs: LaFlamme, Thébaud, Fiorentini
Summary: This study aims to 1) resolve the paragenetic sequence of veins in relation to the mineralisation, intrusions and structural episodes of the Kanowna Belle deposit, Western Australia, 2) apply the quadruple sulfur isotope techniques in conjunction to the vein paragenesis and structural events to understand the evolution, possible source changes of hydrothermal fluids and their relationship to the tectonic framework changes in Archean orogenic gold deposits, and 3) carry out in-depth mineral scale quadruple sulfur isotope analysis incorporated with other geochemical analyses to interpret how gold is transported and precipitated in Archean orogenic gold systems.
Genesis of the Nova Nickel Deposit
Industry Collaborator: IGO Independence Group
CIs: Barnes, Fiorentini
Summary: This study aims to determine the multiple sulfur isotope architecture of the Nova-Bollinger deposit in the Albany-Fraser Belt of Western Australia by spatially mapping tracer S isotopes across the orebody as well as country rocks.
Improving zircon morphology and chemistry as a tool for assessing and ranking the relative prospectivity for Cu porphyry deposits in “greenfield” terrains
Industry Collaborator: BHP Billiton|
CIs: Fiorentini, Loucks
Summary: A substantial exploration and research problem remains outstanding: although all porphyry copper ore-forming magmas are adakites (distinguished from ordinary calc-alkalic arc magmas by high Sr/Y ratio and spoon-profile rare-earth-element patterns), many adakites are apparently unmineralised or have weak, subeconomic copper mineralisation. Then, how do we distinguish a hydrothermally altered adakitic igneous complex that is weakly mineralised or barren from a hydrothermally altered adakitic igneous complex that is likely to contain a major copper deposit? This study is set to address this very question.
Supported by MRIWA M530
Industry Collaborators: Gold Road Resources, BHP Billiton Nickel West, Newmont, Northern Star Resources Limited, Saracen, Evolution Mining
CIs: Thebaud, Aitken, Jessell, Occhipinti, Dentith, Hagemann, Kemp, Fiorentini, Smithies, Lu, Gessner
Summary: Yilgarn 2020 is a 3-year research-intensive program that integrates priority research and technology activities with complementary data compilation and targeted data acquisition. The research project is articulated into three modules ranging from regional- to camp- and deposit-scale studies applied to both well-mineralised, and less well-endowed areas. The combination of studies conducted on both mineralised and less mineralised areas is critical to evaluate and test the robustness of perceived mineralisation controls derived from the study of well mineralised domains.
Tectonic evolution and amalgamation of continental, arc and arc-related terranes of Northern Thailand
Industry Collaborator: Auldana
CIs: George, Fiorentini, Parra Avila
Summary: This project centres on the characterisation of volcanic and sedimentary records to unravel the records of convergence and amalgamation of the continental arcs and terranes of north-eastern Thailand. Furthermore, it addresses the closure of an oceanic basin (Nan Suture Zone) between the Sukothai and Indochina Terrane. Current tectonic models will be tested, and improved models will be developed. Unfolding the geologic history of this region is relevant to the development of valuable petroleum and mineral resources in Northern Thailand.