Geologists have unearthed evidence that suggests Queensland may be sitting on a treasure trove of rare minerals that underpin 21st century technologies and laying undiscovered in the remote North West of the state.
Experts from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines’ and the University of Queensland have uncovered evidence of platinum and gold as well as Rare Earth Elements (REE) used in advanced technologies from hybrid vehicle batteries to super-conducting magnets.
The discovery, loosely being referred to as the Diamantina Minerals Province, covers an area from the copper, gold and platinum-rich Fifield in central New South Wales, through Queensland’s north west country and up to the Merlin diamond mine in the Northern Territory, where one of Australia’s largest diamonds was discovered.
UQ’s Emeritus Professor Ken Collerson and DNRM geologists uncovered the potential resource when they discovered extremely rare geological pipe structures in a remote area of western Queensland south west of Mount Isa and near the Northern Territory border.
The rare pipes originate from very deep within the earth, when pulses of mineral-rich material are forced to the earth’s crust.
These pipes have previously only been found in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Finland, but the Queensland ones could be up to six kilometres in diameter.
Minerals likely to be in the pipes include scandium, cobalt, nickel, copper, light and heavy rare earth elements, yttrium, niobium, hafnium, zirconium, tantalum, phosphorus, silver, gold and platinum group elements, as well as potential for diamonds.