CORE (Creating Opportunities for Resource Exploration) is a Territory Government initiative designed to maximise opportunities for the exploration, discovery and development of new mineral and petroleum resources.
The four year, $23.8 million exploration initiative was announced in the 2014 Budget, and includes a continuation of the existing CORE initiative ($3.95 million per annum, launched in 2013) with an additional $2 million per annum from 2014-2018 for an accelerated program to assess the Territory;s shale gas resources and potential.
The initiative is being undertaken by the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS) and focusses on acquiring new precompetitive geoscience information to stimulate exploration, collaborative regional assessments of shale gas potential, industry grants for high-risk exploration and programs to attract investment into resources projects in the Territory.
Under the CORE initiative, the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS) has a new focus on stimulating a new generation of resource discovery in the Territory’s onshore sedimentary basins, which have high potential for unconventional petroleum and large base metal deposits. This will include mapping and 3D modelling of prospective units and detailed analysis of prospective shale units, and includes $2 million per annum dedicated to assessing onshore hydrocarbon potential. NTGS will also continue programs to understand the geological evolution and mineral potential of basement terrains. Key components of the regional geoscience program are described below.
McArthur Basin 3D model and resource assessment
A major focus for work during the initiative will be the greater McArthur Basin (including the outcropping McArthur Basin and undercover extensions to the Birrindudu Basin and Tomkinson Province). Consistent characterisation of key stratigraphic intervals will be undertaken to establish basin-wide stratigraphic correlations. NTGS will also complete geophysical coverage of the entire greater McArthur basin with gravity, magnetic and radiometric data. This data, along with a rock property database, structural interpretation, Hylogger data and industry seismic data will be incorporated into a live and updateable 3-dimensional basin model for the entire basin. Detailed and consistent analysis of black shale units will feed into comprehensive unconventional petroleum prospectivity assessments, and regional assessments of copper and zinc potential. Shale assessments will particularly focus on the prospective McArthur and Roper Groups.
Amadeus Basin mapping and resource assessment
In the Amadeus Basin in Central Australia, NTGS will focus on detailed characterisation and basin-wide correlation of Neoproterozoic stratigraphy, accompanied by 1:100 000 mapping of key areas. This will be incorporated with studies of basin architecture and regional structure to investigate the basin’s potential for copper, zinc and petroleum.
Arunta Region mapping and copper mineral systems study
Basement geoscience programs under CORE will include an ongoing programto look at the untapped potential of the Arunta Region in central Australia, which is emerging as one of Australia’s leading greenfields provinces for copper and polymetallic deposits. Under CORE, a new geoscience mapping program will commence in the Jervois and Jinka 1:100 000 sheets, in parallel with a copper mineral systems study that will commence at the Jervois deposit and extend to other deposits in the Arunta Region. This will provide an improved understanding of the regional framework and mineralising styles in this complex region to attract and assist further exploration in this emerging province.
Arnhem Province and basement to the McArthur Basin
Under CORE, NTGS will also undertake the first detailed 1:100 000 scale mapping and prospectivity analysis of the Arnhem Province, which forms the poorly understood basement to the McArthur Basin in East Arnhem Land. This is planned to extend over the life of the initiative to similar programs in other basement terrains underlying the McArthur Basin, including the Murphy Province and western Arnhem Land.
A major component of the CORE initiative is a program of industry collaborative grants that provides mineral and petroleum exploration companies with 50% of costs (up to $100,000) to conduct projects in unexplored/greenfields areas were little or no exploration has occurred and there is limited geological information. Information from the projects will be made available six months after completion of the projects to encourage further exploration. The program facilitates increased exploration drilling and geophysics in under-explored areas around the Northern Territory, as well as helping attract new exploration investment.
To find out more about the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations, including details of projects funded to date, and guidelines for how to apply, please visit www.minerals.nt.gov.au/collaborations.
As part of CORE, the Department of Mines and Energy has developed a renewed strategic approach to attracting investment into minerals and petroleum exploration and emerging resources projects in the Territory. This includes promotion of the Territory as an exploration destination at national and international forms, and holding the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) in Alice Springs each March. Under a renewed International Minerals and Energy Investment Attraction Strategy, DME will also implement targeted strategies to attract investment into NT resources projects from key markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. This includes identifying potential investors and matching them with suitable projects, and undertaking industry delegations to East Asia to promote opportunities and assist companies meet suitable investors and potential offtake partners. DME will continue to develop relationships with key Government organisations, industry groups and major investors in the region to raise the Territory's profile as a destination of choice for resource investment.
The CORE initiative will also include ongoing improvements to online delivery of information and data to the minerals and petroleum exploration industry. Following the 2014 launch of NTGS's online reports delivery system GEMIS, there will be an priority on increasing the amount of reports available for download, commencing with the remainder of open file minerals exploration reports, NTGS products and well completion reports. NTGS will also focus on improving management and delivery of exploration drilling and geochemistry data, and the improved digital online accessibility of petroleum reports and data.