New geophysical survey to unlock secrets of Woomera Prohibited Area



Work is now underway on a major regional geophysical survey to help fast-track exploration in the highly prospective Woomera Prohibited Area region of the Gawler Craton.

South Australian geologists have conservatively estimated the potential for more than $35 billion worth of developments in copper, iron ore, gold and uranium projects in the next decade, consistent with a resource potential analysis undertaken by Geoscience Australia.

Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis said for the next six months, scientists will begin transporting equipment by helicopter into the remote region of the State.

"They will be taking vital measurements from more than 34,000 survey stations within and adjacent to the Woomera Prohibited Area to better understand the geology and mining potential of the region," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"The majority of the survey will be helicopter-assisted, which comprises transporting a gravity operator and measuring instrument to each survey site where a measurement will be collected to enhance our information about the area's exploration potential.

"The region already hosts the Challenger gold mine, Prominent Hill copper gold mine and Peculiar Knob, high grade iron ore mine.

"This survey aims to attract investment and drilling into under-explored areas and provide the greatest prospect that we will discover South Australia's next series of world-class mines.

"This Government is investing $2 million for the PACE Gawler Craton Gravity Survey as a further example of our commitment to providing new and essential information to explorers.

"Unfortunately, this $35 billion investment in our future is being thwarted by the Senate, where in an act of economic vandalism, the legislation to allow greater access to the WPA has been stalled in a committee by Liberal Senator David Fawcett."

The Woomera Prohibited Area is a military test and evaluation site, roughly the size of England, covering about 30% of the Gawler Craton. Geoscience Australia estimates 62% of Australia's known copper resources as well as 78% of the country's known uranium resources are located in the Gawler Craton including the WPA.

The survey is a partnership between State and Federal governments drawing on the expertise of Geoscience Australia, Australia's national geosciences research agency, and the Department of Defence providing access through the Woomera Prohibited Coordination Office.

Once complete, the data will be posted on the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy and Geoscience Australia websites within six months.