RESEARCHERS have developed new methods for recognising potential mineralisation hidden beneath barren cover rocks in under-explored areas of WA.

A major collaboration between the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), the Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET) and sponsor Gold Road Resources, the project seeks to apply new computational technology to solving the challenges of mineral exploration below barren cover rocks.

The work targeted WA’s Eastern Yilgarn Craton and Albany-Fraser Orogen, where highly-endowed regional geology known to host world-class mineral deposits is buried and hidden from view by later sediments.

Led by geophysicist Mark Lindsay at the University of WA, the CET research team developed innovative processing techniques to improve the quality of conventional geophysical constraint, and applied cutting-edge machine learning to integrate multiple datasets, providing greatly improved understanding of the highly endowed sub-surface geology hidden beneath the barren cover rocks of the region.

“This machine learning approach improves our capacity to train predictive models in how to recognise the clues pointing to hidden mineralisation,” Dr Lindsay said.

New processing techniques pioneered in this research can also improve the resolution of sub-surface features in existing seismic data, adding value to heritage data without requiring expensive new studies to be conducted.

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The project defined several features beneath the Eastern Yilgarn and Albany-Fraser Orogen that may host substantial mineralisation, including the continuation of prospective geology known to contain the rich Gruyere gold deposit.

“The fact that the domains of interest picked out by our approach line up with areas already proven to host substantial mineral resources is particularly significant,” Dr Lindsay said.

“This gives us confidence our prospectivity model is zeroing in on elements of the geology that really are controlling the mineral endowment of the region.”

In releasing the research report, MRIWA CEO Nicole Roocke said Dr Lindsay’s research would play an important role in encouraging mining industry investment in under-explored areas of WA.

“The findings of this work demonstrate the exciting mineral exploration potential remaining in the Eastern Yilgarn, and we anticipate the approach pioneered here will stimulate renewed interest in many similar areas of Western Australia where we know richly endowed geology lies buried below younger rocks.

“By providing greater confidence that geological features of real interest can be resolved beneath the surface, the machine learning approach pioneered in this work can lower the risk profile of exploration across the industry.”

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