INDUSTRY INTERACTION, TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND COMMERCIALISATION PROGRAM
GEMOC relies on a vigorous interaction with the mineral exploration industry at both the research and the teaching/training levels. The research results of the Centre's work are transferred to the industry and to the scientific community in several ways:
• collaborative industry-supported Honours, MSc and PhD projects
• short courses relevant to the industry and government sector users, designed to communicate and transfer new technologies, techniques and knowledge in the discipline areas covered by the Key Centre
• one-on-one research collaborations and shorter-term collaborative research on industry problems involving national and international partners
• provision of high quality geochemical analyses with value-added interpretations in collaboration with industry and government organisations, extending our industry interface
• use of AccessMQ consultancies and collaborative industry projects, which employ and disseminate the technological developments carried out by the Centre
• GLITTER, an on-line data-reduction program for Laser Ablation ICPMS analysis, developed by GEMOC and CSIRO GEMOC participants, has been successfully commercialised and is available from GEMOC through AccessMQ (http://www.es.mq.edu.au/GEMOC/); the software is continuously upgraded
• collaborative relationships with technology manufacturers (more detail in the section on Technology Development). GEMOC (Macquarie) is the Australian demonstration site for Agilent Technologies LAM-ICPMS applications
GEMOC industry support includes:
• direct funding of research programs
• "in kind" funding including field support (Australia and overseas), access to proprietary databases, sample collections, digital datasets and support for GIS platforms
• logistic support for fieldwork for postgraduate projects
• collaborative research programs through ARC Linkage Projects and the Macquarie University External Collaborative Grants (MUECRG) and PhD program support
• assistance in the implementation of GIS technology in postgraduate programs
• participation of industry colleagues as guest lecturers in undergraduate units
• extended visits to Macquarie by industry personnel for interaction and research
• ongoing informal provision of advice and formal input as members of the Advisory Board
ACTIVITIES IN 2010
10 major Industry Reports were completed for collaborative industry projects.
TerraneChron® studies (see Research Highlights) have enjoyed continued uptake by a significant segment of the global mineral exploration industry. This methodology, currently unique to GEMOC, requires the integration of data from three instruments (electron microprobe, LAM-ICPMS and LAM-MC-ICPMS) and delivers fast, cost-effective information on the tectonic history (with ages) of regional terranes (www.gemoc.mq.edu.au/TerraneChron.html).
During 2010, GEMOC increased its collaboration with Barrick Gold of Australia, applying the TerraneChron® method to their copper-gold exploration programs in Papua New Guinea and South America.
The ARC Linkage Project titled "Global Lithosphere Architecture Mapping" (GLAM) continued with full industry partner support following the takeover of WMC Resources by BHP Billiton.
A successful bid for an ARC Linkage grant in 2008 ensured the continuation of the project despite key players leaving BHP Billiton. A sub-licencing agreement was executed with Minerals Targeting International to accommodate Dr Graham Begg's new role (in relationship to Macquarie, BHP Billiton and the GLAM project) as Director of this company. Planning and workshop sessions at Macquarie with participants from BHP Billiton and GEMOC were key activities in 2010. Dr Begg spent significant research time at GEMOC through 2010 as part of the close collaborative working pattern for this project.
GEMOC's development of a methodology for analysis of trace elements in diamond has opened up potential further developments and applications relevant to industry, ranging from diamond fingerprinting for a range of purposes to improving the knowledge framework for diamond exploration. This work is continuing, with a focus on understanding the growth and chemical history of individual diamonds and diamond populations; it was supported in 2010 by an ARC Discovery Project, on which Dr Dan Howell is employed as a Research Associate.
In 2007-2008 GEMOC developed a technique for dating the intrusion of kimberlites and lamproites using LAM-ICPMS U-Pb analysis of groundmass perovskite (see GEMOC Publication #505). This rapid, low-cost application has proven very attractive to the diamond exploration industry, and has led to several small collaborative projects; it also is being applied in an ARC Linkage project sponsored by De Beers.
A new initiative in 2009, continued in 2010, was the application of U-series isotopes to groundwater studies for both exploration and investigation of palaeoclimate. Collaboration with Heathgate Resources at the Beverley Uranium mine in South Australia is investigating these processes using a well-constrained aquifer system in both a mining and exploration context (Melissa Murphy's PhD project).
Modelling capabilities have now been extended to industry related projects. An ongoing collaboration with Granite Power Ltd continues, which has led to important data exchange and ongoing consulting projects through Access MQ. A successful Honours project was carried out in collaboration with Chevron Australia Ltd., developing gravity and thermal models for the Northwest Shelf. An ongoing collaboration between GEMOC, Granite Power Hydrolex Ltd. has led to several upcoming or submitted publications on the thermal structure of the Sydney Basin.
Studies on the controls of fractionation and concentration of platinum-group elements (PGE) in ultramafic magmas continued in 2010 as part of the PhD project of Marek Locmelis, funded by AMIRA Project P710a; Marek submitted his thesis in 2010, and is continuing with the research as a Research Associate. The research goal is to develop reliable geochemical indicators that can guide the exploration for magmatic nickel-sulfide deposits with a particular focus on the role of chromite and olivine in the concentration and fractionation of PGE in komatiites. Industry partners are BHP Billiton, Independence Group NL, Norilsk Nickel, MERIWA and ARC. The project is in collaboration with the Centre for Exploration Targeting / University of Western Australia, CSIRO Exploration and Mining and the Australian National University.
A continuing collaborative research relationship with New South Wales Geological Survey is applying TerraneChron® to investigations of the provenance of targeted sequences in Paleozoic sedimentary terranes of eastern Australia, and the development of the Macquarie Arc.
A collaborative research project continued in 2010 with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, in which GEMOC is carrying out in situ Hf-isotope analyses of previously SHRIMP-dated zircon grains from across the state. This is a part of the WA government's Exploration Incentive Scheme.
Industry visitors spent varying periods at GEMOC in 2010 to discuss our research and technology development (see visitor list, Appendix 3). This face-to-face interaction has proved highly effective both for GEMOC researchers and industry colleagues.
DIATREEM continued to provide LAM-ICPMS analyses of garnets and chromites to the diamond-exploration industry on a collaborative basis.
GEMOC publications, preprints and non-proprietary reports are available on request for industry libraries.
GEMOC was prominent in delivering keynote and invited talks and workshop modules at national and international industry peak conferences in 2010. See Appendix 4 for abstract titles and Appendix 2 for GEMOC Publications.
CURRENT INDUSTRY-FUNDED COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH POJECTS
These are brief descriptions of current gemoc projects that have direct cash support from industry, with either formal ARC or Macquarie University Grant status and timeframes of at least one year. Projects are both national and global. In addition to these formal projects, many shorter projects are directly funded by industry alone, and the results of these feed into our basic research database (with varied confidentiality considerations). Such projects are administered by Access MQ Limited, Macquarie's commercial entity.
GEMOC's industry collaborative projects are designed to develop the strategic and applied aspects of the basic research programs based on understanding the architecture of the lithosphere and the nature of Earth's geodynamic processes that have controlled the evolution of the lithosphere and its important discontinuities. Most of the industry collaborative projects rely on geochemical information from the Geochemical Analysis Unit in GEMOC and especially on novel methodologies developed by (and some unique to) GEMOC.
Geochemical data on crustal and mantle rocks are being integrated with tectonic analyses and large-scale datasets (including geophysical data) to understand the relationship between lithosphere domains and large-scale mineralisation.
The use of mantle sulfides to date mantle events, and the characterisation of crustal terrane development using U-Pb dating and Hf isotopic compositions of zircons provide more information for integration with geophysical modelling. TerraneChron® (see Research Highlights) is an important tool for characterising the tectonic history and crustal evolution of terranes on the scale of 10 – 100 km and delivers a cost-effective exploration tool to the mineral (and potentially petroleum) exploration industry.
The recent breakthrough in developing a robust methodology to analyse the trace elements in diamonds quantitatively is another world-first for GEMOC. In addition to providing unique knowledge about the nature and compositions of deep mantle fluids that has led to a new hypothesis for how diamonds form in the Earth’s mantle (see Research highlights 2007), it has potential practical applications to diamond fingerprinting for forensic applications and to better prediction of targets for diamond exploration.