28 million reasons to dig deep

13/08/2009 - 00:00

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A NEW national research centre that includes Curtin University and the University of Western Australia is aiming to achieve a change in the development of mineral exploration technologies.

A NEW national research centre that includes Curtin University and the University of Western Australia is aiming to achieve a change in the development of mineral exploration technologies.

The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre has been awarded $28 million of federal government funding, to research new technologies able to explore to greater depths.

It was one of 10 new or existing CRCs to share in $243 million of funding announced last week.

Other recipients included CRCMining, which was awarded a further $12 million to continue its research programs.

Its role is to develop new technologies that will enable the mining industry to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

Curtin University's head of exploration geophysics Anton Kepic said the new CRC had ambitious aims.

"It's time there was a more concerted effort to make the exploration process more efficient," Dr Kepic told WA Business News.

"There are plenty of minerals out there to find but we need new technology to find it."

The new CRC aimed to reduce the cost and increase the safety of exploration drilling, enhance the value of holes that are drilled and ensure holes are placed so as to maximise the useful information.

CSIRO, Curtin and the University of Adelaide will lead the research, while UWA's centre for exploration targeting is a collaborating institution.

Core industry partners, led by Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Boart Longyear, Goldfields Australia, Newcrest and Vale Exploration, have pledged to contribute $20 million in cash.

The CRC is looking to recruit drilling contractors, equipment manufacturers and junior miners as affiliate partners.

Curtin University is a participant in four of the CRCs that gained extra funding, including the CRC for greenhouse gas technologies and the CRC for spatial information.

Curtin will also continue as a member of CRCMining, which will add UWA as a new research partner.

UWA researchers plan to develop an on-line database that will allow mining companies to share best practice information on energy consumption and reliability of mining equipment.

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