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ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge

Unearthing South Australia’s next big mineral deposit.

In a government first, the Department for Energy and Mining is partnering with open innovation platform Unearthed to host a $250,000 crowdsourced open data competition. Open worldwide to geologists and data scientists, ExploreSA aims to uncover new mineral exploration targets in the Gawler Craton.

Using the department’s open file historical records, primary data and research, the competition combines geological expertise with new mathematical, machine learning and artificial intelligence to generate new exploration models and ideas.

ExploreSA is launching in early March 2020. Datasets will include recently completed major geophysical collection programs, in particular Gawler Craton Airborne Survey magnetic, radiometric and terrain data, and AusLAMP magnetotelluric data and subsequent Olympic Domain infill survey.

All targets generated, including those from the winners, will be publicly shared to increase innovation and understanding in the resources sector by enabling access to data science approaches and modern geoscience thinking.

The Gawler Craton is South Australia’s most well-endowed minerals asset and hosts significant iron oxide – copper–gold deposits (Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill, Carrapateena), the Challenger gold deposit and Middleback Range iron ore deposits. Our existing inventory of discoveries suggests there are similar prospects as well as many other deposit styles and commodities yet to be identified. The region for the competition is the footprint of the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey (Fig. 1).

Map of ExploreSA competition area

Figure 1 The Gawler Craton Airborne Survey area is the footprint of the ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge competition region.

Crowdsourced competitions are a fresh, leading method to test new ideas and find solutions, which can also result in start-up companies, new jobs and opportunities.

A similar partnership in 2019 saw OZ Minerals team with Unearthed to focus on the Mount Woods project that sits near OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine. With over 6 terabytes of public and private exploration data, competitors had three months to develop new processes for mineral exploration and improve discovery rates. Over 1,000 contestants from 62 countries took part, and OZ is currently looking to drill targets.

The competition will indicate which datasets leading innovators and entrants are most interested in and may accelerate mineral discovery.

Unearthed Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing, Holly Bridgwater, said the competitions leverage data science to its full potential at a time when significant new discoveries are becoming rarer.

‘This exciting ExploreSA crowdsourcing competition and world-class open dataset will attract a global community of innovators, some whom won’t have worked in the mining industry before,’ Holly said.

‘We can’t wait to see how they will apply their diverse skills, fresh ideas and novel approaches to mineral exploration to accelerate discovery in South Australia.’

Holly Bridgwater with core

Unearthed’s Holly Bridgwater with some of the thousands of metres of drill core available for interrogation at the South Australia Drill Core Reference Library.

More information:

– Leisha Bond, December 2019

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