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Exploration partnership to tackle Nullarbor frontier

Mining & Resources

OZ Minerals is joining forces with Mithril Resources to explore seven licences in South Australia’s last mining frontier.

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The two Adelaide-based companies have entered a Heads of Agreement to explore the Coompana Province, on the Nullarbor Plain in the far west of the state. 

The July 21 announcement follows the release of images this month by the South Australian Government showing the Earth’s crust to a depth of 60km spanning a 484km stretch in the region between Cook in South Australia and Haig in Western Australia.

The new images identified a number of large geological structures – an important first step to understanding the opportunities for mineral exploration.

Oz Minerals CEO and Managing Director Andrew Cole described the area as “real frontier country”.

“It is exciting greenfields exploration in rocks that are comparable to those just across the border that are known to host major mineral deposits,” he said.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Mithril whose experienced team have a proven track record in the discovery and development of nickel/copper mineral deposits in Australia.”

The collaborative work by the Geological Survey of South Australia, Geoscience Australia and AuScope Earth Imaging generated a comprehensive geoscientific data set over the Coompana Province which included high resolution aeromagnetic, seismic survey data and magnetotelluric data.

Mithril Resources Managing Director David Hutton said the partnership would leverage the combined strength and knowledge of the two companies.

“We are really looking forward to getting on the ground and working with OZ Minerals,” he said.

Initial drill testing could be conducted by Mithril in the first half of 2017.

If Mithril identifies potential drill targets, and the outcome of the exercise is acceptable to both parties, then negotiations would advance to a formal joint venture to undertake exploration on the relevant tenements.

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“The reason why it’s such a big frontier is because until we had done this work we had no idea how thick those limestone covers were,” he said.

“This work has shown that the cover’s only 300-400m thick – the same sort of thickness as the cover over Olympic Dam – if you have a high grade deposit it becomes economic at those sorts of depths.”

South Australia is a globally important producer of copper, uranium and zircon. The state also produces iron ore, zinc, lead, silver, industrial minerals (including salt, silica sand and gypsum) and extractive materials (including dimension stone and opal).

The arid Nullarbor Plain is the world's largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and stretches about 1100km from east to west at its widest point.

It is also home to the longest straight section of railway in the world (478 km) and the longest straight section of highway in Australia (146.6 km).

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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