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Exploration role for fractals

A FREMANTLE-BASED firm has developed new spatial analysis software it believes can play a major role in identifying targets and mineral deposit types.

The development comes at a time when the exploration and mining industry is showing signs of renewed confidence.

Vearncombe & Associates has developed a new Spadis product that includes fractal analysis modelling, which company director Julian Vearncombe believes has been largely overlooked.

“An increasingly vocal message within the industry is that new exploration targets for economic mineralisation are required, as the exploration and mining business is currently emerging from a downturn, restructured and newly data driven,” Dr Vearncombe said.

“Fractals are exciting, much discussed but, until now, under-utilised.

“The fractal dimensions provide critical information on the distribution of deposit types.”

The fractal method makes it possible to analyse a regional pattern, subset that pattern and determine sub-areas that are under-represented in deposits.

Australian Bureau of Statistic figures show that, across the nation, expected expenditure for the first half of 2003 is 9 per cent higher than the expectations recorded for the comparable period last year.

And WA has been the stand-out State. In the December quarter petroleum exploration in this State almost doubled to $170 million. WA also recorded the largest increase in mineral exploration, with an increase of $4.5 million, or 4.5 per cent, in the December quarter.

Trend estimates indicate that WA accounted for $104 million of the $180 million spent on mineral exploration during the quarter.

The level of exploration money spent is back at levels not reached since the June quarter of 2001.

Almost $70 million was spent during the quarter on gold exploration, while a further $13.8 million was channelled toward nickel, cobalt exploration.

Of the $270 million spent nationally during the December quarter on petroleum exploration, $170 million was spent on off-shore and on-shore projects in WA – equivalent to the combined amount of money expended in the previous two quarters.

A report released this week by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA highlighted the importance of the flow-on benefits of mining to the WA economy.

The Mining and Petroleum Service Industries report estimated that the resource sector injected more than $7.2 billion into the WA economy in 2001-02.

BIS Shrapnel believes the rise heralds a massive increase in mineral investments.

Its study, Mining and Heavy Industry Construction in Australia 2002-2017, released earlier this year, says that the upswing would be initially driven by major oil and gas projects, and would broaden across most mineral sectors by mid-decade.

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