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Tree leaf mining method works says precious metal producer

Marmota Aurora Tank Gold Project
Marmota Aurora Tank Gold Project

A resources company has successfully trialled an exploration method that involves inspecting vegetation for traces of precious metal.

Marmota has found reading tree leaves is an effective way to explore for gold at the Aurora Tank Project, 110km southwest of Coober Pedy in South Australia. The proponent claims it used biogeochemical sampling for the first time in Australian history to prospect for gold.

‘Economic mineralisation’ found

After six weeks of analysis, Marmota had found a new zone of “potentially economic mineralisation” of 3.4 grams tonne, about 450 metres north of an existing gold field and 44 metres below the surface.

“It’s really quite remarkable,” Marmota chairman Colin Rose told the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “I don’t think there’s any way we would have found this without the tree sampling. It doesn’t show up on anything else.”

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Canadian trick is well known

The technique has been used in Canada and it is public knowledge that tree roots can extract tiny pieces of gold and water from deep underground. However, it is challenging to find consistent vegetation to measure.

“You can’t go across a landscape and assume everything’s the same,” Marmota senior geologist Aaron Brown told the AAP. “One euclid can look like another.”

Brown revealed his sampling program involves using latex gloves to collect between 200 grams and 400g of leaves from the mulga wattle and senna tree for laboratory analysis at LabWest in Perth.

The process was repeated for all trees in a 200 metre by 200 metre grid near the depleted Challenger Gold Mine, 740km northwest of Adelaide.

Positive test results

The tests proved positive and led to reconnaissance drilling in June based on the leaves alone. More drilling will be carried out in September once more samples have been collected.

The results have surprised Brown who did not expect to find gold in the area.

“We all thought this area was dead,” he said.

Click here to read the full results.

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