Speaker Spotlight: Alex Blood1 July 2020
Executive Director, Mineral Resources, Department for Energy and Mining
Keynote Presentation: Accelerated Discovery Initiative: Drilling and Innovation Cofunding Program
Alex will provide an update on the status of South Australia’s leading innovative cofunding program: the Accelerated Discovery exploration initiative. Commencing in the 2019/2020 financial year, this 3 year Government cofunding program provides financial support to drilling, geophysics, innovation, research collaborations and Aboriginal employment in the exploration sector. Exploration is recognised as vital to mineral discovery and innovation to the ongoing effectiveness, efficiency and growth of this industry.
In the lead up to her keynote presentation on Thursday 9 July at the International Uranium Digital Conference 2020, we interviewed Alex Blood to offer insights into South Australia’s Accelerated Discovery Initiative.
Q. SA’s Accelerated Discovery Initiative is currently heading into Stage 2. Has there been any funding support provided to Uranium exploration activities?
A. Yes – several projects in round 1 involve investigations into iron oxide – copper–gold (IOCG) complexes, which we know, can be associated with uranium occurrences. There are two projects solely dedicated to the search for uranium mineralisation.
At the Honeymoon Uranium Project, Boss Resources plan to use the ADI grant to support a proof of concept test towards novel geophysical techniques, and compare the approach with conventional methods. The team will deploy passive seismic and high definition seismic reflection methods to delineate paleochannel systems to guide drilling.
Following the initial ADI announcement, we have also made an offer to Alligator Energy’s uranium project. The Cooper Basin is well known for its oil and gas production, but it also has the potential to host roll-front style uranium mineralisation within Tertiary-age paleochannels, similar to the Beverley and Four Mile depots. What this project shows is the value of rich data from previous exploration efforts in the petroleum sector is now of value in the search for mineral wealth.
Alligator’s proposal applies a multi-disciplinary approach to define drilling targets that will involve reprocessing existing 3D seismic data acquired for oil and gas exploration, complemented with either passive seismic acquisition or regional airborne electromagnetic surveying to refine the mapping of paleochannels. Selected targets will be tested with up to 5000m of aircore drilling.
Q. A depressed uranium market has been on the threshold of a major recovery for years, could we see this about to change?
A. Foreseeing the market outlook is out of my remit, and best left to the business analysts. What I will say, is that South Australia plays its role as a significant global supplier of uranium to generate electricity with a low carbon footprint, and our state is the nation’s leading uranium producer. The state has demonstrated the safe custody of uranium for more than 30 years and will continue to supply uranium for the peaceful purposes of generating electricity and to support health industries. For a number of years, uranium has accounted for 10 to 11% of the globes energy mix.
Q. How has COVID-19 impacted the uranium industry in Australia, and can we expect to see further implications into the near future? Will we see new and/or recommenced projects in Australia?
A. I can only speak for South Australia – its mining sector has done an excellent job in operating during the pandemic and taken a collaborative approach with Government, to support COVID19 response measures. During the COVID19 response, the sector has adapted and been flexible with its people, supported Government risk management activities, especially with FIFO movements and adopted technologies to largely keep supply coming and maintain production.
Q. What message would you like to highlight to the delegates at this upcoming Conference? What do you hope will be the main take away from your keynote presentation?
A. The Accelerated Discovery Initiative is a fresh take on exploration, recognising the role of new technology and innovation to contribute to exploration and geoscience, and mineral discovery. It also recognises the importance of water resources to both community and industry and encourages Aboriginal employment, with Traditional Owners a very important stakeholder in all resource activities.
ADI’s brief makes it Australia’s most diverse and innovative Government co-funding program with options for support including s drilling, geophysics, innovation and proof of concept, research collaborations and Aboriginal employment. This new-style thinking shows how government and industry can work together in fresh and dynamic ways.
The first round of $3 million was heavily subscribed with quality projects pushing the boundaries of conventional exploration to drive exploration dollars further – with a heavy emphasis on new technologies, scientific endeavour and collaboration to boost discovery and reduce risk. Two more rounds remain, and we are preparing to put forward a second round call before the year’s end.
Registrations are still open!