Progress in the MinEx CRC for drilling technology and the National Drilling Initiative

Progress in the MinEx CRC for drilling technology and the National Drilling Initiative

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Good morning everyone. My name is Laura Gow and I'm acting branch head of the Mineral Systems branch. I would like to begin today with acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and where I live, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, waters and community. I pay my respects to the people, the cultures and the elders, past and present, and recognise that they are Australia's original mappers, miners and navigators. This

morning's presentation is sorry this morning speaker is Doctor Anthony Budd, who will be presenting on progress in MinEx CRC for drilling technology and the national drilling initiative. MinEx CRC is focused on developing more productive, safer and environmentally friendly drilling methods to provide samples from beneath the deep cover in Australia's underexplored terrain's. In parallel MinEx CRC is developing new technologies for collecting data while drilling, utilising geophysics, seismic, downhole analytics and 3D modelling improvements. The National Drilling Initiative is also underway, with drilling programmes completed in 2020 and 2021. The National Drilling Initiative is a world first collaboration of geological surveys and researchers to undertake drilling in underexplored areas of new potential mineral wealth in selected areas of Australia and provide a test bed for new mineral exploration technologies. Doctor Anthony Budd is a programme leader in MinEx, in the MinEx CRC, a joint appointment between the CRC and Geoscience Australia. Anthony has worked at Geoscience

Australia since 1995, which, if you can do the maths, is 28 years, which is quite an achievement. Anthony is a geologist with training in geochemistry and economic geology and has worked in minerals, geothermal, energy and unconventional gas. In addition to science, Anthony has experienced in resource assessment, investment, attraction and provision of advice. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Doctor Anthony Budd. Good morning, everyone. Thanks very much for coming along or

joining online. And thank you, Laura, for that introduction. So I'll get into it because this is a long talk, but I'm gonna start with some audience participation at least for those in the room. Actually, if you're on the if you're on the chat, you can put your hands up.

Hands up, who feels this statement that our world is rapidly changing? Keep your hand up if that sometimes makes you feel uncomfortable. Or alternatively, if you feel energised at times. Excellent. So what I've shown here is a compilation book by CSRIO about global Mega Trends. Now there are lots of these that I could have chosen from, but they the ones that CSIRO look at are adapting to it, a changing climate. That includes things like changing our healthcare system, our critical infrastructure settlement patterns.

Making them more more survivable through extreme weather conditions. Leaner, cleaner and greener is about finite food, water and mineral and energy resources, and we need to reduce, reuse and recycle. We need to achieve carbon neutrality. Reverse no reduced biodiversity loss, if it can actually reverse it. Escalating health imperatives are about global populations, ageing new health challenges which emerge, for example, COVID-19. It's a really good one. Good, good example, I mean. Chronic illnesses and mental health. Geopolitical shifts we're seeing that at the moment, with the Ukraine crisis, and of course, we're deeply involved in tensions in the Asia Pacific region.

I'm diving into digital is just it's become part of our lives, hasn't it? So much of what we're doing now is digital, and it didn't used to be so online retail, remote working telehealth, virtual education, digital currencies and data driven organisations. Becoming increasingly autonomous. AI capabilities are boosting productivity and helping to solve humanity's greatest challenges, but there are also creating socio economic- They have social-economic implications that we need to learn to deal with.

Unlocking the human dimension is it's really important. You know, we live in a society, not just an economy. This is about human experience, human perspectives and experiences on future, community, business, technology and policy decisions. It incorporates principles of

equity, diversity and inclusion. Now I say to you, Ohh, sorry. There's a sort of started with this. You know there's good and bad in all of these. Right. And

the glass is half full, half empty depending on your perspective and people's perspectives change. Now assuming that we survive all of these things, especially climate change, there are opportunities in this. Even though we feel uncomfortable. But I do put it to you that Geoscience

Australia. Does have a role in addressing all of these issues that we face, and so does the MinEx CRC and I'm gonna try to convince you of that as we go. But focusing a little bit more on minerals, specifically. we need an increasing volume and

wider range of minerals. And these are some of the drivers Our energy systems being driven by the need to move towards renewables, but also technology developments. For example, the change to. Nuclear energy. Or the advent in nuclear energy meant we suddenly needed you know, this vast vastly greater number of elements, materials for that infrastructure.

Technology itself is driving a lot of need for a wider range of minerals you know, illustrate this through the the rise of supercomputing, upcoming quantum computing, artificial intelligence, which is, I think, really hit home this year with ChatGPT And social media love it or hate it, one of the things I hate about it is the idea that AI bots are arguing with each other and chewing up vast amounts of electricity doing so. How pointless. The human population continues to grow and become more affluent, so we need a a lot of materials for that. Now this next illustration is not so much about the driver for Material needs rather it it it's actually creates an impediment, or in some wise, it does create a driver. So I'm a point that I'm trying to make here is that this

is an Australian Bushmaster in Ukraine. So there's conflict, geopolitical. Um, changes throughout the world are having an impact on our supply chains. Now COVID-19 did the same thing. So this gives rise to criticality. We realising that we can't rely on

the supply chains that we're used to have, we need to become a little bit more self reliant. And Allison Britt and team at Geoscience Australia Talk a lot about critical minerals and the growing need for it. So that gets me to the CRC. What is the role of the CRC in

addressing all of these things? well To find more minerals. We need to explore for more minerals, explore more for minerals. But why aren't we finding deposits? Part of the reason is, of course, and this is an old message. That Geoscience Australia has been part of for a long time. Australian minerals, you know, it's it's all part of the investment attraction rationale and a large part of what Mineral Systems branch is about.

70 or so percent of Australia is covered by some form of regolith. But there's no, however, our known mineral deposits, mostly seven areas of reasonable outcrop, and this is illustrated in this slide. The this is a greyscale image of Australia. The coloured regions show areas of at least some outcrop. And then the colour dots on top of those coloured regions are our known mineral deposits. So you know it, it's pretty easy to see that we're not. Um, where there's a little bit of cover. It's a significant

impediment to exploration. So why aren't we finding deposits undercover? Part of the reason is because we haven't looked there. So the illustration here is that saying that before, but instead of showing deposits were showing drill holes from an open file database. Nearly 3/4 of a million data points.

And the red colour shows the drill holes that have a spacing within a kilometre of their nearest neighbour, so you know we're not getting particularly adventurous in our drilling. There are reasons for that, of course. Um, but the fact is that we need to drill a lot to find deposits. Their estimates of needing to drill an average drill of about. Um.

Half a million kilometres per moderate discovery. And when you look at the giant discoveries, the guys at the 21 million metres of drilling. Bear in mind, of course, that most projects. We will not result in a mine let alone sizable mine, so the message is we need to step out our drilling undercover in order to make discoveries for the minerals that we increasingly need. But that is costly and say here's getting to part another part at the point of the mineral of Minex CRC. Costs and finance, health and safety, environmental and time costs, time impacts, exploration costs, net present value market position has broader strategic implications as I've been talking about securing the critical minerals supply chain that we need.

So the MinEx CRC, we're working on drilling technologies. We're working on making the drilling data more timely from drilling and using that data to make decisions. So this is the Ohh the the pitch that went to create the CRC and the CRC was awarded in round nineteen of the CRC programme in 2018 and it commenced in early 2019. Now the CRC, the cooperative Research centres has been around since about 1990. It's the flagship

Commonwealth programme for supporting industry led Research and development with aims of commercialization. So the the explanation for the seat for MinEx CRC is that current declining mineral mineral discovery rates mean fewer future mines. MinEx CRC will create new opportunities for mineral discovery by delivering more productive, safer and environmentally friendly drilling methods. New

technologies for collecting data while drilling. And exploration data and never before sampled deposits. The outcomes will also grow the high value mining equipment technology and services, or the Mets sector.

So some key information about the MinEx CRC. We are the world's largest mineral exploration collaboration and we are really quite unique around the world bringing together industry, government and research organisations backed by $50 million grants from the CRC programme, the Commonwealth contribution $41 million in cash from geological surveys and industry. And I'll note the geoscience Australia is the single largest sponsor of this CRC. $51 million of non staff in kind contribution $78 million or 311 FTE equivalent staffing kind. So that's the total of $220 million. And I can tell you that we're actually getting more

cash and more In kind contributions than that. So it's reasonably large, but we are spread over 10 years, 2019 to 2028. So that means now in 23 we are halfway through CRC. CRC split into 3 phases each of three years with six month startup and six months for finishing, and we are a not for profit company. Being a not for profit company, we do have governance. It's

quite different to here at Geoscience Australia to what we need to have in government, but we are responsive to the Commonwealth government if we don't submit our reports and achieve our milestones, we won't get the ongoing parts of that $50 million. We're also responsive to our participants and Members and I'll note that Geoscience Australia is a member of the CRC. Not all of the sponsors are, but Geoscience Australia is. We have a board of directors. headed by Chris Pigram. He was an ex CEO of Geoscience Australia and seems to have his fingers in many pies since he retired from Geoscience Australia. We also have numerous board committees providing information to those decision makers. We have a

science advisory committee headed up by David Giles, says the Chief Scientific Officer, and all of the participants and sponsors. and affiliates have representation on that board, as do the programme leaders such as myself and Andrew Bailey, the CEO. We also have an executive management committee, which is led by Andrew Bailey, who's the CEO and again the CSO Chief Scientific Officer and programme leaders and finance person run that as well as our Caroline Tiddy, who is our Education Training committee. Leader and I hope some of you have met Caroline. She's she's awesome. She's an absolute powerhouse. I know. She gave a presentation here one or two months ago. I hope some of you

caught that. And then we have 3 programmes, programmes 1 and 2. Um. Company sponsored and I'll talk just a little bit more about that and programme in the next slide, Programme 3. My programme

is sponsored solely by the geological surveys of Australia. No, while I'm here while I'm on this slide, I'll make the point that each of the projects in programme one and two. Have a Um, a review panel and they are the people who dictate the work which is done. And these projects have commercialisation

aims and so they are somewhat siloed. So I'm gonna present a fair bit of work across the CRC today, but it is gonna be high level of necessity. So programme one is about drilling technologies. We're looking at drilling optimisation and automation and that includes of conventional drilling and project two also and Project 20 is about the coil tube drilling And I'll talk relatively extensively about that today.

Programme 2 is about data from drilling. We are looking at real time downhole assaying and also petrophysical logging while drilling seismic in the workflow and automated 3 dimensional modelling and then programme 3 which includes national drilling initiative. As I said, we have the geological all of the geological surveys in Australia as the sponsors. There are four main sponsors.

Geoscience Australia, SA NSW and GSWA they all have substantial drilling programmes. All of the money that they put in as sponsorship for the CRC goes back to them in those drilling programmes. We also have Victoria will have a small drilling programme and Queensland, NT and Tasmania are affiliates. We have one project but five sub projects and I'll go into that bit later. Ohh yes, we also have a range of opportunity funds so when we set up this or when the CRC was set up because I wasn't involved in that.

Um, we set aside around about two and a half million dollars, so that would have some flexibility in starting up new short term projects and a bunch of those have been run and completed and some are underway now. I will touch on just a few of those as I'll go. Okay getting to our sponsors. The major sponsors are shown here the we have a range of companies, mostly in mining and exploration, but also in the services. And as I mentioned earlier, the four main

Geological Survey sponsors. Our affiliate sponsors are listed here. Also our research, sorry, there are also the four affiliate geological surveys and also the researchers who I've put a box around those who are involved in programme 3. So that's University of Adelaide, Australia National University, CSIRO, Curtin University, Newcastle, Uni of Newcastle, Uni of SA and the University of NSW.

Um. I guess this is a good point to mention that. At anyone time in Programme 3, given people come in and out amongst the geological surveys and the researchers, we have over 100 or so people contributing. Today I. Cannot get into much detail unfortunately, about the range of things that the CRC does, so I want to point you to where you can find information as well as coming to ask me any further questions. Firstly, the MinEx CRC website is and we also have YouTube channel. Each quarter we put up

a we call it a v-news video news and we've amassed a few of those over time. Now so check those out if you can. To move straight on to drilling technologies. I'll spend a bit of time trying to explain to you what coil tube drilling is. First thing to point out is that coil tube drilling is not new. It's developed in the oil and gas industry. But what we're

doing is miniaturising it and hopefully that includes miniaturising the price tag. So some distinguishing things about this rig compared to conventional rig. Firstly, we have a continuous tube, conventional rigs use rods in three to six metre lengths and as they they they spin and as they progress the hole they've put a new new rod on, push that down etcetera and reverse coming out. So every time they need to do a bit change or no, just even as they drill there there they will drill that rod length. Stop put a new one in.

Continue drilling. Stop. Put a new one in, continue drilling. Coil tube drilling is continuous Now being continuous has a real advantage in that we can insert a fibre optic cable and a power cable, and that lets us do things like logging while drilling or steerable drilling. So that's that is quite unique and as far as we know, it hasn't that sort of downhole tooling and sensing is not available in any other method. Um. This RoXplorer 500 was developed in a previous CRC, the deeply exploration technology CRC, and it's was commercialised to Barrick and they took it to Nevada and did some field trials and there were some substantial changes to that company and luckily for us the rights reverted to MinEx CRC so we got it back.

Which has been good. Now some other things to point out. firstly This here is a section of coil tube, so it's called 500 because it has a 500 metre reach and this is a part of it. Come up and have a look at this afterwards and tell me if you believe me that this thing can be coiled onto. The coil as it is so. An essential part of the rig is I can get my.

Pointer showing up here. As this coil comes as the tube comes off the coil. It needs to be straightened so there are straighteners in here. To get it to go down the hole, there are injectors and these are clamps on a chain. So to push it down these clamps rotate

that way to bring it up, they rotate that way. So that's how. This thing works. This also the mast also slides up and down and we also have a rotating unit. So being having that that rotation unit and the mask sliding up and down means we can actually drill conventionally, which is necessary for starting the hole doing the pre-collar, but also means that we can push casing into the hole. So it is actually a hybrid rig Now.

Mud drilling fluid gets pumped through the hub of this wheel and into a coupling, and then it it gets circulated throughout the entire length, 500 metres of this coil. And it's under pressure and it is that fluid pressures actually what drives the downhead drilling motors. So we can use blade bits. hammer bits. We can also do diamond cut Diamond core. So that's the fluid pressure which drives that. So the fluid goes through the motor at the bottom of hole, it cuts and then it circulates up between the the drill string and the hole.

Who floats the pieces of or the rock chips back to surface, and so that fluid then comes out at the at the top of the hole. What else that I need to tell you about it? This is a lightweight rig or light. It weighs about 15 tonnes, which is quite small for such a depth capability. It's quite low powered as well the. And it has about a 200 or so kilowatt motor, which you know many of your cars are gonna be more powerful than that.

And really important thing is that this is a a very safe rig. So because the conventional rig, as I mentioned, spins rods and it spins them at high speed and there's a lot of potential for injury, doing that also moving those rods, 6 metre steel rods, it can be very, very quiet. Yeah, really heavy even with mechanical aids, they're swinging around, there's plenty of potential for injury doing that. So one other thing is that

this can be crewed by three people. So there are a few people on site, there's less chance of injury so. It's quite a safe rig in comparison to a conventional rig. To move on to ohh sorry, there's also we do also have CT 1000 and Geoscience Australia utilised that in the last hole of the programme, which we just completed near Wentworth in Western NSW, we drilled to 700 metres and that's the deepest that this rig has drilled to.

Um to start to talk about the fluid system, because that's another really important part of how this drilling technology works. This is an early site, might have actually been part of the DET CRC. But what I'm trying to show or illustrate here is that there's quite a range of separate vehicles that are involved in handling the drilling fluid.

One of the first things that the Minutes CRC developed was a single unit to do all of that, our hydraulic processing system. It's mounted on a single truck. So any mud system for any drilling does three things that provides clean fluid to the motor at the bottom of the hole, and unless it's a spinning rig. The clean fluid is needed to avoid excessive wear and it provides a power for these fluid motors. Return samples to surface it needs to float those rock chips back up to surface, and so it needs to have a certain viscosity. If it was just water, you can't do that, you'll get very fine mud, but none of the actual rock chips would return to surface, so it has to be viscous.

And also that viscosity helps to keep the drill hole from collapsing as its drilled. So in the CRC we use what is called leaky Ctrol Um. I don't quite know where that name comes from. I think it means liquid CT and I don't know what the rol is, but anyway it's it's somewhat unique. It's a food based polymer, so it's very safe. In fact, the little critters down the hole love to eat it. So it's it's very biodegradable.

It has a property of being shear thinning or fixer tropic. So what that means is as you force it, it becomes less viscous as you let it relax over time it becomes more viscous so stickier. So what that does is. as you're drilling and as as this as you're forcing the fluid, you know as you're pumping the fluid, it's actually able to go into the the rock formations and as it goes into there, it slows down and sort of sets a little bit. So that's

what helps to keep the hole open. And we use this. This is the only additive that we use in drilling. Conventional drilling might use a variety of things like Bentonite and KCL, which is has its advantages because you can tailor the mud mix according to the formation that you're drilling. So I'm not saying it's, they're different things, but that both do the job Um. So.

We can change the concentration of the polymer in the fluid as we need to change the viscosity of the drilling fluid of as we drill Now, in a really important part about this, is of this unit is that we recycle the drilling fluid. So as the fluid comes back from the drill rig with all of the rock chips flighting in the fluid and the first thing it gets pushed through is the centrifuge that starts the separation or that separates most of the fluid from the rock chips. And then the remaining rock chips with bit of fluid gets put over this shake table. And that pretty much completes the the removal. It's not

perfect, but it it. Does most of the removal of rock material from the drilling fluid. So the sample gets this character here is actually handling the sampling of the rock chips as they come through the shoot here and then the rest of the drilling fluid is held in a tank here 4000 litres of storage and ready to be pumped back through the centre of the coil and all the way through the coil and back down to the bottom of the hole. An important consideration in all of the CT drilling and the and the fluid handling is understanding Making sure that you can be confident that when you take a sample from the sample return sheet here you actually know what depth that came from, cause you will have you will know what depth the drillstring is at, but you don't necessarily know how long it takes for the sample to rise through the drill hole and pass through all of the machinery on here. So there's

actually a fair bit of Computation which goes on I'm here to do that, that, What do they call it? It's, you know, it's it's in our sample return algorithm or depth algorithm. It actually is what they call it. And a lot of the early work in DT CRC and we've continued it in the CRC is to do twin holes. So we've drilled CT hole against a unknown hole or diamond hole where we have continuous core for example. And we've been able to verify that this equipment is actually very good at that depth fidelity. The case so the CT Rig has been used in a number of outings.

Including the South Australian Delamerian and then also the Geoscience Australia Delamerian margins. It has also been used in an Anglo American trial up in Queensland, all of those Um field deployments have seen both CT drilling and also conventional drilling. So this is all added to the database of understanding the relative performance of the CT versus conventional and I guess it's useful to say at this point as well that we're not actually trying to suggest that CT drilling is a replacement for conventional drilling rather it's a new tool and it's niche will be found in time.

So here's what the samples look like. This is the the chip samples laid out in chip trays starting from the top in the the top left here. Just read it like you would have the page of text. So I can see it going through a regolith profile, or maybe there's some transported cover goes into a weathering profile and then eventually it's a fresh rock. And I did mention that we

do have the capability of Um drilling diamond core We do this at the bottom of hole. Geologists really love to see continuous diamond core. There is it. It's going to be interesting to see towards the end of the CRC when we get some other logging while drilling tools working and I'll talk more about those the relative need for A geologist to see a piece of diamond core versus have the data from our chemistry tools, our physical tools etcetera. Anyway we can do it, but it is a bit slow. So we do it just at the bottom of hole.

So this graph here is a little bit complicated, so I'll try to explain what it is. Firstly, we're looking at the campaigns in which the CT rig has been utilised, so started with some trials around and around Adelaide, not far from Adelaide. Then it moved to the South Australian Delamarian to campaigns there, the Anglo American trial and then also the geoscience Australia Delamerian margins programme. So what we're looking at here is the shifts, number of shifts along the X axis and they are 12 hour shifts and then the metres drilled per shift. In total we have completed 43 CT holes for a little over 13 1/2 kilometres. So we're starting to get some experience with this.

The vertical white bars showed the number of metres drilled per shift Um where there is no white bar, That's because we're doing things like maintenance or moving the rig from one site to another. A whole lot of activities which are non drilling activities. The numbers In in colour show the depth of each hole which has been drilled So the deepest I think was um, 450 or so metres, 455 metres, 482.

There it is. Um. Other than the 700 metre hole that we drilled at with the CT1000.

Okay the Horizontal red bars show the number of metres drilled Per shift. While only drilling. Per hole, if that makes sense. So it's sort of an average drilling rate per hole while drilling the orange bars show the average metres per shift for all time, including the non drilling time per hole. So there are the.

The good news here is that there's a strong trend of drilling more metres per shift as the drilling crew have gained experience. This is first of a kind equipment. This drill crews. These drill crews are new to this equipment. We've been able to see really good productivity increases as we've learned how to use this equipment. Being first of the kind. We don't have all of the drilling, all of the support that you were having conventional drilling if something goes wrong, it usually means a trip back to Adelaide to get a piece of equipment or something like that. Whereas

conventional drilling, but there's a lot more support for those sorts of things, so. And there's a lot of upside to come from this graph. And then we get to the NSW Delamerian where productivity dropped a lot There are two reasons for that. One is they were difficult

drilling conditions. Their conventional rig also had pretty hard time drilling in the area. Also, most of these holes are really quite shallow.

So there's less time spent drilling and more time spent moving around moving the rig from site to site, stuff like that But overall this is quite fast. Drilling, I mean we are in the right conditions, the rigs capable of drilling more than 200 metres in a shift. And I think in a 24 hour period the crew were able to drill about 380 metres, something like that. So that's that's going. That's really good going. Alright, some of the other advantages, benefits of the CT Rig include that we occupy a small footprint.

20 or 20 so metres compared to a conventional of 40 by 40 metres, so it's about 1/4 of the size. Sort of biassed these photos here cause on the right hand side is a photo that I took of the conventional rig that we're using in the GA Delamarian programme, and it all it shows just about every vehicle that's out there, including the driller's accommodation, whereas this this one doesn't actually show some of the support vehicles. But the fact is that it's a much smaller drill site. There are also fewer people. The equipment is lighter, so their the footprint is lower because of that, not just the size, but because the scale of the equipment is much lighter for the CT rig.

Another aspect of keeping a clean drill site is that we can Where we can, we'll use a small sump, just a single small sump. Um. Where we need to, we can use skips for handling the waste disposal. So these are the the rock material that you don't keep your drill, but you don't keep and also for the fluids this is an important benefit of being able to recycle the fluid is there's much less fluid which is used on site. And it all cleans up really quite nicely. One of the landholders in they, just South of Broken Hill where we were drilling out in May or so.

We drilled both conventional and CT on his on that landowners property and they commented how pleased they were at how clean the CT site was, how Far less disturbed that site was compared to the conventional site, so that's good news. And I think in In future, that's gonna be more and more important for explorers, is being able to reduce their footprint that's important for. Land access.

A real big environmental and cost benefit is our much reduced fuel consumption so We use, what's the ratio here? It's about 1/3, I think no 1/5 of the fuel to drill a comparative hole. These figures are compiled from the Delamerian and South Australian Delamarian and Anglo Gold drilling, where both conventional and CT rigs were used, and these are the figures estimated for a comparison comparable 500 metre hub. So 1/5 of the fuel consumption. Around about 1/8 of the water consumption because we recycle our drilling fluid where used far less water. Now look at the number of trucks here The fuel saving From this doesn't include the fuel saving here. OK, so it's

it's actually the the Fuel savings even great and of course fuel equals emissions, right? So it's cheaper, it's less emission intensive to do the same job. And drilling additives as well, we use What about 1/5 of the drilling additives So that's all good news. And I did also mention the safety benefits as well. Alright, other activities in the CRC dealing with conventional drilling were also looking at ways to optimise conventional drilling, which includes the efficiency drilling and also automation.

And I find it A little bit astounding. That the CRC for the first time anywhere is doing some basic. engineering and science work in that we have experimental apparatus which I don't think has been used before, but let's us look at variables, one variable at a time who can control all of the other conditions. So can look at single variables for

example. The machine called Woody that lets us look at the impact strikes for a a hammer bit. Blow by blow does a single blow. Bit of a rotation. Single blade, you know, measures all of those things We can do things like change the weight on bit, so you start to understand The relationship between how much weight on bit you putting on per hammer blow versus whether you take a a soft approach as you drill.

Same for cutting diamond core. We have a different machine that does that. So as I said, there's a lot of laboratory based work. Ohh yeah,

there's field. Ohh. Sensing drilling rigs in the field. Again, that's something which hasn't been done much. Um, so, you know, drillers learn by experience. Where actually turn it back that up with real data. And all of that goes into.

ways of automating the you know providing data while drilling on the actual drilling conditions and the bit performance and things like that. We're also looking at using this leaky Ctrol, the fluid, the polymer based fluid that we use for CT drilling How useful that is in conventional drilling? Including automatic control of the mud mixture. So that's what's being shown on the left hand side of this slide. Is machinery which is designed. Let me put it that way. I don't know whether it's been built or not, but this is certainly something which is actually one of the things which is heading probably most quickly heading towards commercialization from the CRC is an iFluid system. So this

Lets us control the dosing or the viscosity of the drilling fluid. And it's very that depending on the downhole conditions. Dtrol, I think, stands for digital drilling control where again based on these laboratory measurements based on the sensing of drilling rigs or the experience which is learned from that. The steps are to firstly monitor the drilling, secondly, to be able to interpret that information and then to be able to start to make recommendations for a driller and then ultimately the game it the the goal is to start to automate that drilling so that we can make the drilling process more efficient and cheaper. OK, moving on to Programme 2, which is about data from drilling. So we've already talked about fluid management and optimization. We've already talked about safer, cheaper, cleaner drilling. So here we're looking at downhole tools. So

LWD means logging while drilling DAS is distributed I think that means acoustic sensing. So we're looking at seismic, we're looking at downhole geophysics. We're looking at downhole chemistry. And again, a reminder that one of the unique things about having a continuous tube in your drill string is that you can run a fibre optic cable for comms and a power cable for running sensing equipment. On this slide as well. We part of programme 2 is about

3D modelling, the idea being that eventually we'll be able to have all of this data coming in from drilling. We'll actually be able to steer the drill head as well, and NSW government has given us a half million dollar grant as part of their critical minerals activation fund in order to conduct a field trial, probably in May next year. Of.

Again, taking from oil and gas, but miniaturising the ability to steer this drillstring underground. Before I leave this, I wanted to while we're talking about data on the cloud. Um, just pass on a experience I guess while we were drilling in the around Broken Hill, the drillers had a couple of Starlink systems. One was out at the rig and the other one was at camp and it worked brilliantly, And if you have shares in any other satellite broadband, get rid of them. Elon Musk, unfortunately, whichever way you look at it, this system really, really works well and it's cheap. OK, so some of the technologies prototype LIBS downhole geochemical tool.

Geez, I'm gonna have to hurry. Right, libs laser induced breakdown spectrography we need to fit laser and a spectrograph into the annulus of a bottom hole assembly. So there's a packaging issue and then we need to be able to understand the data which is coming out. It's a tiny little spot that gives us full periodic table element composition. We

need to translate that into lithology. Petrophysical logging while drilling tools development includes a gamma tool and a sweep frequency electromagnetic tool. Again, these tools are really important for being able to steer towards the target. If you can sense a geophysical target and steer towards it, that's potentially a game changer in some applications. Also have a fair amount of work going on using fibre optic DAS for rapid seismic acquisition, both inner borehole and at surface.

And loop 3D Min Ex researchers are part of contributing to that consortium for 3D geological modelling. Another one of the opportunity funds, which is really worth mentioning, is augmented reality core logging and this is run by Tom Raimondo at the University of South Australia. Had the chance to see this in action at the GSWA core library this takes in data from databases including what's it called the Auscope 1 NSVL. And other databases so you can see spectral data. You can see previous people's logging. You can see petrophysical data. And you can see all of this stuff on a tablet or on HoloLens while you're looking at drill cord, but in fact, we'll be able to do it virtually as well. You don't actually have to have the

drill core in front of you, but you will have access to all of these tools, that I think is gonna be a bit of a game changer for all of the The core repositories around Australia. Take for instance, our aim is to increase foreign investment into Australia. System like this will make a lot of easier for companies overseas to see what we've got and to make decisions on investment decisions on that. So watch this space and we've really cool another application is for virtual drilling. I've mentioned the CT rig is new.

We need to be able to train drillers converting from conventional drilling to the CT rig and doing it virtually is going to speed that process. All right, getting on to the national drilling initiative, you've heard me say this and others have said it, of course around about 70% of Australia's prospective rocks are buried beneath barren cover. Hiding the resources we need to transition to a low carbon economy. To uncover these frontier provinces, we need innovative tools for more efficient exploration and new data through reduce risk and form and validate exploration models. And somebody needs to jump in and get started, and that's what we're doing in the national drilling initiative.

So we have completed a number of campaigns in East Tennant and South Nicholson, they were run by Geoscience Australia. Excuse me, in the NT during peak COVID, we actually couldn't make it there. Fortunately, MinEx was able to conduct the drilling for us and they did it safely on time, on budget and they did an awesome job and really, really good results from that. The next campaign was the South Australian Delamarian. That

was a combined CT and conventional. I've should have said the East Tennant and South Nicholson programmes were conventional. The CT rig wasn't ready at that stage. So we've run that one and we've just recently completed the Delamarian margins NSW as well. And on Monday the the rig and crew are heading over to Nifty in West Australia to conduct A 10 hole programme there. And so things that I wanted to mention here is that the MinEx as a company.

Has an ability to operate in ways that the geological surveys can't, which can be, and has been an advantage the The way this is set up is that the geological surveys are the science advisers to a collaborative programme and MinEx is the operator. The individual geological surveys determined the science programme. There is not a national overview of the selection of drilling targets etcetera.

There have been a variety of approaches, from the surveys going about this data acquisition programme. And it's gonna be really interesting at the end of this all to evaluate how useful each approach has been and this will help us understand how we can better support industry. To, open up an area, what makes an area less risky in industry's eyes. Is it the type of precompetitive data or is it just what we actually see in the samples as we drill them out of the ground? Okay programme 3 supports the national drilling initiative. This we're in phase two and we set this up. This is very much all of the geological surveys together thinking about what they want to use this MinEx CRC opportunity for the geological surveys can collaborate in a variety of ways, but the CRC does provide some unique opportunities. So we really

wanted to make sure that we are hitting, making best use of the opportunity, and that includes making sure that the geological surveys. Get value for their money from this research, so the the aim or the the question that we decided that we would aim the research at is as we do this drilling. Are we making sure that we are Doing work that does see whether the region has potential to host significant mineralisation. There are five projects or sub projects. First one is

understanding a mineral system inside out. This is where we're gonna run one or two transects in places like nifty and eventually in Cobar as well. We want to look from near and known deposit work outwards. This is about looking at distant

footprints, but with the new methods that we have available to us now, analytical methods, we can see cryptic signals that we haven't been able to see previously, so Another aspect of it is trying to objectively determine which data sets are most influential and mineral prospectivity analysis. You know, we have lots and lots of geological data Is it possible to be a little bit reductionist in that and and see whether, for example, there are five data sets which provide most of the information that you need? Cause if that is the case, then we can concentrate our precompetitive data or position on those data sets. Mapping and characterising regolith interfaces. If there's 70% of Australia is covered by regoliths we there's still a lot that we need to know about that.

So we have a couple of approaches in that propagating geology and properties from drill holes across scales. As we drill, we acquire samples, we can take petrophysical measurements on that. As we drill, we can run wireline logging, which gives us our geophysical image around the borehole. And of course, we have our very extensive regional geophysical data sets at a different scale. How can we look

between those 3 scales? Their different measurements. How can we get data from all of those and how will that improve our geological modelling, efficiency and effectiveness of NDI borehole data delivery? This is the project run by Matilda Thomas here at Geoscience Australia and off the next slide shows one of the really good outputs from that. And National Drilling initiative support. This is a Works in a couple of ways. One is the continuing development of

novel, particularly geochronological, and also geochemical tools, and the other is knowledge sharing things like where developing a wiki of how to guides for these new analytical methods. That help provide some first information for any potential users of these methods. Also provides the link to the researchers. This is a really important part of helping to make sure that these methods are made sustainable in future beyond the CRC. Um, I've talked about commercialisation and programme one and two. To me, the sort of equivalent is what's gonna be

left behind, what's gonna be sustainable after the CRC. And I think for programme 3, what we're looking at is a workflow to rapidly acquire and distribute new data and knowledge in prospective cover terrains. And that's what the geological surveys want.

I mentioned. Data from drilling, making that available, the CRC. Helped Geoscience Australia like sponsored Geoscience Australia to deliver this borehole reporting tool. A lot of work by Simon van der Wielen especially, and others in developing this, and this is available through both the CRC and a EFTF portals.

This is I'll try to really quickly summarise this this is Looking at field based data sets, so portable XRF. ASD field spec which is a handheld spectrometer. Borehole wireline. These are these are methods that we can acquire data in the field within one or two weeks of having completed hole. We need to have the samples dry. And then we can process that through a software package called Data Mosaic. Again, MinEx CRC had a hand in in

developing that it's owned by CSIRO and That gives us a virtual log which can be equated to a lithological log. So I say that within two weeks of drilling we can have that lithological log available through. The the various portals that we have so Companies do want data quickly because they do make decisions and that's what we want them to do. We want them to look at the

data that we generate and make a decision. Are they going to make investments in that area? So we can speed that up. Um. The NDI analytical programme I wanna pull out these. This is like a summary of some of the methods that we have applied and are applying even ahead of drilling. As we go about these NDI campaigns, there are just a couple of things that I wanted to pull out because they fit the theme of.

Data quickly. So one of them is a University of Adelaide triple quad of same mass isotope laser ablation ICPMS. Covers a much wider range of isotopic pairs and minerals. Then we used to be able to do so, we're now getting better at being able to date sedimentation ages and also things like Lutetium Hafnium. On epidote, it's a very common mineral and alteration zone, so it helps us understand mineralisation ages and Yanbo Cheng is working with the University of Adelaide on that, and then on the other hand, we have methods which are relatively slow, so an argon-argon method by Marnie Forster at the ANU. It's slowly because the samples need to be a radiated and hand picked and all that sort of stuff. It's not done in situ,

but it's fast because From a very small sample, you get an nearly complete range of the thermal history of that rock, not just for the sample, but it shows it provides a regional picture as well, so it's fast in that sense, so Certainly the SRC is delivering building a workflow that more quickly provides information on the geodynamic and Metallogenic history of the areas we drill To finish up, we all CRC's have an education training programme. Our goal is to finish 50 high degree research completions. We have 47 commencements around about 12 completions, a couple in the last weeks. And we have this mix of students, 36 female, 64% sorry percentages. Male-female mix you can see it on screen there from 19 countries.

The supervisors, 92 supervisors involved 23% female, 77% male. Those primary supervisors from academia have this sort of trend. And I think the way you distinguish late from an early career person is the the amount that they talk about the superannuation.

And we it's it's a requirement for our Now students to have government and industry sponsored researchers being involved in their projects, and this shows the distribution of the the on ground projects that are underway. And I got criticised recently for not including rocks in a talk. So here are some. And that's my last slide. Thank you. Thanks, Anthony. I that was fascinating exploration of all things MinEx CRC and there's some really exciting innovations coming out of the CRC. So great to hear about it. Unfortunately,

given the time, we will have to wrap things up there. So thank you everyone for attending today. At this stage, there isn't a scheduled talk for next Wednesday and those in the room. If you do wanna hang around, Anthony has offered to stay and answer questions. If there are some that you'd like to ask. But thank you everyone and have a great day.

2023-08-11 12:07

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