Mineral potential mapper: A Geoscience Australia Case Study
Authors / CoAuthors
ACIL Allen Consulting
The Mineral Potential Mapper (MPM) project represents a significant step forward in identifying new mineral provinces in Australia. The project demonstrated that the apparent under-representation of giant Ni Cu-PGE sulfide resources in Australia was a consequence of concealment of mineral deposits by sediments, basins and regolith (cover) which has hindered exploration success, rather than a lack of geological endowment. The project focused on the identification of prospective regions considered worthy of more detailed work (by exploration companies). The availability of new digital datasets at continental scale enabled the work which predicted a high potential for Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide deposits in a wide range of geological regions across Australia.
The project delivered the following outputs:
– a technical report providing the first continental-scale assessment of Ni-Cu-PGE mineral potential of Australia applying knowledge-driven geographic information system (GIS)-based prospectivity analysis methods
– a series of Geodatabase digital maps (included in the report)
– primary digital data and programming script used in the GIS analysis
– a workshop delivered in Perth to industry on the 12 June 2016
– a world first National mineral potential map for Ni Cu-PGE sulfide deposits.
The MPM materials have generated considerable industry interest. Chalice Mining Limited (Chalice) (formerly Chalice Gold Mines Limited) notes the MPM “… provided valuable input into Chalice’s regional targeting, particularly when applied to frontier areas” (and that) “… recent success at Julimar validates the work by Geoscience Australia (GA) and shows the impact that pre-competitive data can have when applied to greenfields exploration.”
Chalice’s Julimar discovery is the world’s largest deposit of its type discovered in 20 years and one of four Tier one deposits discovered in the world in the last five years. It has spurred a significant uptake in tenements by explorers across a green field region and further significant finds are likely. The project has also generated considerable international government interest, sparking the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative. The United States of America and Canada are both applying similar innovative mineral systems-based assessment methodologies to undertake precompetitive prospectivity mapping at a national scale.
Given the impact of the MPM project will only be fully appreciated with the realisation of new mines, ACIL Allen has considered two hypothetical mine development scenarios: development of the Gonneville deposit based on Chalice’s (Australian Securities Exchange) ASX report of 8 July 2022, and a second case with an expansion of the Gonneville deposit (to 500Mt), coupled with a more spectacular discovery (double the size of the Gonneville deposit). Both success case scenarios were modelled using a conservative set of assumptions drawn from Chalice’s ASX reporting, prevailing market figures and industry norms.
Based on those assumptions, ACIL Allen estimates that the development scenarios could generate an overall benefit to the Australian economy of between $3.48 billion and $4.57 billion and between $1.21 billion and $1.56 billion in net benefits to the Commonwealth in terms of taxation. GA’s investment in the project ($3.0 million) enabled the creation of these benefits. Indeed, every dollar invested in this project by the Commonwealth through GA could generate between $1,176 and $1,546 in additional benefits to the economy. The estimated benefit-cost ratio (BCR) for the Commonwealth Government is between 409 and 526 for the ‘success cases’. This is a substantial step up from the initial assessment conduct 12 months ago prior to the availability of resource figures for the Gonneville deposit (with a small and a large mine delivering an overall benefit of between $441 million and $869 million, with a BCR between 65 and 127).