Thursday 29 April 2021


The South Nicholson area in the Northern Territory is set to become one of Australia’s most exciting exploration frontiers, following the first release of data from the MinEx CRC National Drilling Initiative (NDI) campaign.


The preliminary data is from a 1750 m deep drill hole, NDI Carrara 1, completed by MinEx CRC in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and the Northern Territory Geological Survey.  The drill hole is located approximately 230 km northwest of Mt Isa and 15km west of the NT/QLD border.


The preliminary data release, officially announced by The Hon Keith Pitt MP, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia at AGES 2021, includes core and chip photography, geological logs, pXRF geochemistry and wireline geophysics.


Dr Ian Scrimgeour, Executive Director of the NT Geological Survey said the hole was designed to sample frontier sedimentary basins to assess their energy and mineral resource potential.


“The NDI Carrara 1 drill hole is the deepest hole in the South Nicholson Basin within the Northern Territory and is the first test of the highly prospective stratigraphy identified in the L210 South Nicholson Deep Crustal Seismic Reflection Survey.”


The drill hole intersected 630 m of carbonate sedimentary rocks of the Cambrian aged Georgina Basin, which overlie sandstones, shales, carbonaceous mudstones and carbonate sedimentary rocks interpreted to be the Paleoproterozoic Lawn Hill and Plain Creek formations.


MinEx CRC CEO Andrew Bailey said the preliminary data was indeed promising.


“The sequence appears to be prospective for both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon systems. The Georgina Basin rocks include local occurrences of centimetre-scale vugs filled with bituminous hydrocarbons, whilst the carbonaceous sediments of the Lawn Hill formation contain gas, with methane levels measured in excess of 1 % by our gas detector during drilling.”   Mr Bailey said.


The Paleoproterozoic rocks also contain local occurrences of lead and zinc sulphide minerals and are comparable in age to the sedimentary rocks, which host world-class base metal deposits, at Mt Isa (Qld) and McArthur River (NT).


Minerals, Energy & Groundwater Division Chief Dr Andrew Heap said that the data would encourage industry exploration in the region, which could potentially become the next Beetaloo or Mount Isa.


“Preliminary findings from this drill hole indicate that the Carrara Sub-basin hosts rocks that may be equivalent to those that host the Mount Isa deposit, which is one of the largest lead, zinc and silver deposits in the world,” Dr Heap said.


“The drill hole also indicates the sediments are prospective for energy resources and show geological affinities with the Beetaloo Sub-basin, one of the most promising shale gas resources globally.”


The data can be accessed through the Exploring for the Future Data Discovery Portal and the MinEx CRC NDI Portal: https://minexcrc.com.au/south-nicholson/



MinEx CRC is the world’s largest mineral exploration collaboration bringing together Industry, Government and Research Organisations with $220M of funding comprising of:

  • $50M cash from the CRC Program
  • $41M cash from geological surveys and industry
  • $51M non-staff in-kind
  • $78M or 311FTE staff in-kind





Anna Porter

MinEx CRC Communications Manager


0448 368 348


Photo caption: MinEx CRC NDI South Nicholson drill site.

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