2021 q1 TECHNICAL highlights


This episode features the following technical highlights:
• East Tennant Data Release and Core Sampling Workshop;
Opportunity Fund Projects Increase the Depth and Breadth of MinEx CRC Research; and
• RoXplorer BHA Sensing System Development and Testing.

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Geoscience Australia and the Northern Territory Geological Survey have released field borehole completion reports and Hylogger data from ten drill holes completed as part of the MinEx CRC National Drilling Initiative East Tennant campaign.

The 4th of March data release coincided with a drill core workshop where samples were collected for distribution to laboratories across the MinEx network for further analysis.

MinEx CRC aims to open up covered terranes for exploration, as well as advancing technologies available for increasing geological knowledge in covered areas. The East Tennant drilling campaign, along with the South Nicholson campaign, were the first of many drilling campaigns which will be conducted in the National Drilling Initiative.

The field borehole completion reports are a first-of-a-kind approach to delivering precompetitive drilling data to a widespread audience via the NDI web portal, which can be accessed via the MinEx CRC web page. The reports include all data that was collected at the drill site, or shortly after drilling in the core shed, including; core and drill chip photographs, geological logs, pXRF chemistry, mag sus, wireline logs such as gamma and resistivity, and Hylogger spectral data. The intention of the field borehole completion reports is to make exploration relevant drill-site data available as soon as possible after drilling, in easy-to-consume graphic logs with the option to download in generic file formats.

The reports were released approximately two months after the completion of the drilling, following a streamlined quality assurance process. Data released from previous precompetitive drilling has typically been in pdf format with up to 12 months delay from the time of drilling.

While the exploration community ingest and utilise preliminary data from the field borehole completion reports, MinEx CRC researchers will be busy generating the next layer of exploration relevant data from samples acquired during the core workshop. Further analyses will include detailed petrology, geochronology and thermochronology, multi-element whole rock geochemistry, novel isotope geochemistry, single-mineral chemistry and structural analyses. A number of the drillholes intersected hydrothermally altered rocks, including Cu-bearing sulphide mineralisation. There will be much work to characterise and date these alteration assemblages to provide guidance to explorers about the types of mineralisation that might be present in the area.

With new data and knowledge gained from the NDI drilling and research program, we hope to attract exploration to the East Tennant area and better equip explorers to conduct efficient exploration programs. This will be a fascinating study of how modern precompetitive geoscience data acquisition can kick-start exploration in unexplored covered terranes and, hopefully bring forward mineral discoveries.



The first-generation MINEX CRC RoXplorer Bottom Hole Assembly communications and sensing system is nearing completion. Testing and integration work has begun on the modular down hole components that will allow a series of geotechnical and drilling measurement systems to communicate in real time with surface drilling infrastructure.

The RoXplorer coiled tubing drilling system is unique and requires a bespoke BHA communications and sensing system. Several drilling parameters must be understood in real time to enable drilling optimisation and to achieve our stringent performance targets. This requires a bottom-hole sensing system that can capture high fidelity real-time geotechnical data and stream it to the surface whilst drilling is still underway. The research team has overcome technical challenges specific to coil tubing drilling to deliver a system which can operate in situations far beyond existing commercial options. This outcome is a key milestone in the Program’s research objectives and a precursor for future geotechnical sensing systems. Our current focus is to complete the mechanical housing ready for deployment to MinEx CRC drilling programs in 2021.

This system enables multiple streams of data, from a modular suite of downhole sensors (including existing sensors modified for use in the RoXplorer BHA), to be communicated to surface and utilised for drilling optimisation. Real-time measurement of borehole deviation is a fundamental objective of this technology. The bottom hole navigation module developed by MinEx CRC Participant Wassara is currently undergoing integration testing and showing promising results. While the total count gamma sensor developed by MinEx CRC Project 4 researchers has already been integrated into the communications network of the BHA tool and is working well. An intriguing opportunity created by the bottom hole sensing and communications system is to tune sampling strategies to the current drilling conditions or rock type. For example, modifying the physical sampling interval based on geological inferences from downhole data.

With the new knowledge gained from this BHA sensing and communications system the research team can start to develop drilling optimisation strategies that will unlock the economic advantages of coiled tubing drilling systems for mineral exploration.



MinEx CRC have commenced three new projects in the first quarter of 201 and will soon commence a fourth – supported by $0.96M from our Opportunity Fund and matched by $1.025M of in-kind from Participant research organisations.

The new projects were endorsed by our Science Advisory Committee in Q4 of 2020. Each project is aligned with existing MinEx CRC research but presents an opportunity to broaden our scope and provide new commercialisation opportunities toward the central vision of efficient exploration and development of undercover mineral resources.

The four new projects are:

  • OP 5 Fluorescence; a collaboration with the University of Adelaide to assess the potential of mineral-specific fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy for in-field characterisation of drill samples.
  • OP6 Recovery of lithological and stratigraphic data from drillhole databases; a collaboration with UWA and DataCode to develop Open Source algorithms automating the extraction of lithological and stratigraphic data from new and legacy drill hole data.
  • OP7 Immersive analytics; a collaboration with UniSA and Geoscience Australia to develop visualisation and analytical capability to the NDI portal in an immersive virtual reality environment.
  • OP8 Getting the most out of your date; a collaboration with the Australian National University which supports the people and infrastructure required to deliver Ar/Ar thermochronological data to the National Drilling Initiative (NDI).

The new projects have ambitious, short-term objectives to provide additional data and expertise, access to new technology and broaden our commercialisation opportunities as we transition to Phase 2 of our 10-year, three-phase research agenda.

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