South32 is backing the project.

$50m for mining research centre

Thursday, 29 March, 2018 - 15:22

A new mining research centre to be jointly based in Western Australia and South Australia and backed by 34 industry and academic partners is set to proceed after the federal government committed to provide $50 million in funding.

The MinEX CRC's partners will contribute $165 million (cash and in-kind) over the next 10 years, taking its total 'budget' to $215 million.

Set to commence July this year, the national research initiative is aimed at developing technologies to increase the discovery of mineral deposits.

It will focus on the development of technologies that unlock the potential of mineral deposits that are located under deep rock cover.

It will also seek to improve the productivity of drilling, and collect data while drilling, driving down the time and cost of deposit “drill-outs” and bringing forward production.

One specific goal is the development of cheap, safe and environmentally friendly 'coiled tubing' drilling to build a 3D picture of the subsurface and extract deposits more efficiently and effectively.

The technology will help to break new ground and acquire previously unobtainable data on prospective rocks under deep, barren cover.

The CRC will also aim to optimise conventional drilling, such as diamond drilling.

MinEx CRC chief executive elect Andrew Bailey will be based in Perth and said the establishment of the research organisation was driven by the declining discovery of new mineral deposits, which was threatening Australia’s economy.

“Mineral and energy resources made up about 50 per cent of Australia’s exports and about 10 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015-16,” he said.

The cost of exploration per metre drilled has increased from $89 per metre in 1997 to $207 per metre in 2017, Mr Bailey said.

Industry participants include BHP Billiton, South32, Anglo American and Barrick. 

Research organisations supporting the CRC include CSIRO, Curtin University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, the University of Western Australia and the University of Newcastle, together with Geoscience Australia, and the Geological Surveys of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Through the Minerals Research institute of WA, the state government has contributed $1 million to the MinEx CRC.