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November 2005

Electro-geochemical "CHIM" techniques developed by Chinese researchers are undergoing trials in South Australia to assist in the search for buried mineral deposits.

Field surveys were recently conducted at Dominion Mining Ltd's Challenger Gold Mine in the state's far north and at Havilah Ltd's copper-gold-molybdenum prospect at Kalkaroo, northwest of Cockburn on the SA-NSW border. These surveys are the first time that the Chinese CHIM technique has been tested under arid conditions in the Australian outback.

The CHIM technique uses an electric current to draw mobile ions from the surrounding soil and sub-surface to be captured on specially coated carbon electrodes placed in the soil. The electrodes are exhumed and the coating removed and analysed to determine the concentration of metal ions.

The method relies on the leakage of ions from an ore body to the surface where the applied current has potential to collect the ions from a much larger volume than would be feasible with traditional soil sampling methods.

The Chinese method is a variation of the CHIM (CHastichnoe Izvlechennye Metallov) technique developed by Russian scientists in the early 1970s.

Ongoing research and modification by Professor Luo Xianrong of Guilin University of Technology have resulted in a simplified, highly mobile system that can be rapidly deployed in a variety of terrains. Luo has successes acknowledged in China using his modified CHIM technique to locate deep extensions to known ore and discovery of new ore systems buried beneath thick layers of sediment.

The photo shows (L-R) Professors Luo Xianrong and Zeng Nanshi from the Guilin Institute of Technology exhuming buried electrodes

The collaborative research in South Australia is supported by Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) and is integrated with current activities of the Co-operative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME**) in which PIRSA is a core participant.

This collaborative research project has recently received backing from the Australian Government under the Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific & Technological Cooperation. Expenditure of $44,500 over 3 years has been approved from the Fund to Dr Baohong Hou, project leader at PIRSA, to facilitate travel to China. The Chinese government has agreed to provide a similar amount to meet the travel expenses of Chinese researchers on the project.

** LEME Curnamona Minex Project. Researchers are Dirk Kirste (Leader), Sue Welch (ANU) , Baohong Hou, John Keeling, Steve Hore Mark McGeough, Adrian Fabris, Alistair Crooks, Aaron Brown, Lilian Stoian, George Gouthas (PIRSA), Barney Stevens (NSW DPI), Steve Hill , Karen Hulme , John Joseph, Nick Direen, Joel Brugger (AU), Luisa Ruperto (GA).

Further information: John Keeling (LEME/PIRSA). Email: . Tel: 08 8463 3135





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CRC LEME is established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program. The CRC Program is an Australian Government initiative which brings together research groups with common interests.

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