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research program 2

mineral exploration under cover

Hydrogeochemistry for mineral exploration under cover (HydroMinEx)

Project Leader : David Gray, CSIRO Exploration and Mining

Start date and duration: July 2004 –June 2008

Participants : Geoscience Australia, CSIRO Exploration and Mining, CSIRO Land and Water, Australian National University, Sponsored by Anglo-American in 2005-2007.

Brief project description :

The objective of this project is to further develop hydrogeochemistry as a tool for mineral exploration under cover (areas and commodities). In the main this will be through targeted Industry-funded projects so as to develop robust exploration methods for specific commodities in particular environments. Particular technologies developed within this project include use of isotope technology, enhanced chemical modelling, sampling development and Industry partnership.

One “Legacy” product from this project will be a “Practical guide for hydrogeochemistry for mineral exploration” report. This will be important to transfer the results for the previous 6 years to a general exploration audience, including the practical methodology and examples of successful application of hydrogeochemistry. This should be a “How To” for explorers.

A additional “Legacy” product is dealing with the significant challenge of integrated analysis and interpretation of complex groundwater data. We will use a geo-statistical approach based on self-organising maps (SOM). A SOM analysis can highlight subtle relationships and assist in the process of knowledge creation from complex and disparate data. This exploratory data analysis tool is unsupervised and data-driven, the resulting patterns, boundaries and relationships are internally-derived, as opposed to concept driven analysis as performed by the geochemist. SOM can be used to assess the spatial coherence or context of samples belonging to a particular grouping. Subtle trends and relationships such as identifying and separating overlapping geological processes, related to mineralization and subsequent weathering may also be identifiable by this method.

Deliverables (outputs) and expected impacts of research (outcomes):


- Open File Report on “Practical guide for hydrogeochemistry for mineral exploration”

- Critical input into understanding of groundwater geographical variation and impact on exploration strategies (using CSOM and other geostatistical studies), which will also form a component into a P3 project into 4D modelling of Yilgarn groundwaters

- Release final restricted report for Anglo-American on hydrogeochemistry at Calama

- Release final restricted report for Anglo-American on hydrogeochemistry at Kayar

- Release final restricted report for Anglo-American on hydrogeochemistry at Hinta

- Finish and submit a manuscript on hydrogeochemistry at Cannington

- Prepare report about groundwater at Cobar.

- Release of results for Gold exploration from AMF project at Esperance / Salmon Gums

- Release of results for NiS exploration from Echo Project in Yandal Belt


  1. Broaden spectrum of commodities for which hydrogeochemical exploration has been trialled
  2. Apply hydrogeochemical exploration expertise to new areas in different geology, regolith and landscape settings
  3. Apply geochemical and hydrogeological modelling to gain better understanding of processes affecting dispersion, footprint size, and the development of geochemical and isotopic vectors



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