Kick-starting careers in exploration and mining.
Adelaide hosted the National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS) during November and December 2017. The three-week intensive mineral exploration summer school exposes third-year undergraduates, honours students and recent graduates to the opportunities and challenges facing the exploration and mining industry as search areas move increasingly under cover. It provides Australia’s most promising up-and-coming geologists with a head start in mineral exploration and mining careers. NExUS is an initiative organised and led by Graham Heinson and Richard Lilly at the University of Adelaide, and funded by the Minerals Council of Australia’s Minerals Tertiary Education Council with a significant contribution from the Geological Survey of South Australia (GSSA).
Participants came from every Australian state and territory and represented 12 universities. All 33 students demonstrated a strong passion and enthusiasm for geology.
GSSA assistance included use of the South Australia Drill Core Reference Library at Tonsley for the first week, as well as technical talks and workshops on biogeochemistry (Steve Hill), regolith (Carmen Krapf, Malcolm Sheard; Fig. 1), geophysics (Stephan Thiel), hyperspectral techniques (Alan Mauger, Adrian Fabris; Fig. 2) and drill core logging (Stacey McAvaney, Marc Twining, Tom Wise). Students were able to discuss various exploration concepts and strategies with leading experts during these hands-on activities and technical sessions.
Networking was encouraged in the evenings with senior industry professionals giving technical talks and career advice sessions. Contributing companies included BHP, Newmont, Mount Isa Mines, Minotaur Exploration and Investigator Resources.
In week two students conducted exploration fieldwork – geophysical techniques, geochemical sampling and geological mapping – at a historical mineral occurrence close to Strathalbyn, facilitated by Hillgrove Resources (Fig. 3). In week three students completed workshops on minerals, ore textures and 3D modelling at the Copper Coast at Wallaroo, logged core at Rex Minerals’ Hillside deposit and had an introduction to biogeochemistry from Steve Hill. The students also learnt about forming positive relationships with traditional owners during exploration and mining activities from representatives of the Kokatha people and OZ Minerals.
Over 65 professional geoscientists representing 29 minerals industry related companies, organisations and research institutions contributed to NExUS 2017. Student feedback was positive, with the group forming a special bond through their shared experience that will continue to grow as they move through their geoscience careers.
Applications for NExUS 2018 open in April. For more information visit www.nexus.org.au.
– Richard Lilly