Students leave class behind to drill for gold

Friday, 19 September 2003

More than 20 University of Adelaide geology students have left their textbooks and lecture theatres behind this week as they travel to South Australia's northern Eyre Peninsula to drill for gold.

The third-year geology students from the Mineral Deposits course have headed to one of the most promising new goldfields in South Australia: the Barns Gold Project, located 25km north of Wudinna on the northern Eyre Peninsula and wholly owned by Adelaide Resources Limited, a local mineral exploration company.

Geology Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide Dr Pat James says the expedition is all about teaching students skills, which will benefit them in their careers, but is also about the showing them excitement of exploration and the discovery of wealth for the good of the State.

"Our students learn extensively about mineral deposits in the classroom but this trip is all about learning new skills outside of that environment," says Dr James, who is also a member of the Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME).

"They will be doing diamond drilling, percussion drilling and surface sampling, which are things they could never do on campus. It gives them the chance to see what sort of valuable job they can do if they are interested in careers in this industry."

The Barns area is located in the heart of the newly emerging central Gawler Craton gold province, where many prospective mineral deposits and targets are found. These were not previously known as the rocks containing the gold are almost all covered by vegetation plus soil, sediments and dune sands, collectively known as regolith cover.

Recent exploration by companies like Adelaide Resources, the SA Office of Minerals and Energy, Geoscience Australia and CRC LEME have used new high resolution geophysical and geochemical surveys to see through the regolith cover to outline the mineral deposits of the new gold province.

One particular technique analyses the very minor trace amounts of gold in near surface calcrete (kunkar), which are providing a very sensitive fingerprint to where major gold deposits might lie close by, but hidden beneath, the regolith cover.

The University of Adelaide students, led by lecturers Dr Andreas Schmidt Mumm and Dr Pat James, will use a drill rig to collect mineral samples from the kunkar and the bedrock below and then analyse them in the search for the hidden gold deposits.


Contact Details

Dr Pat James
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5254
Mobile: 0427 180 083

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
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Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
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