The GSSA has partnered with CSIRO on this joint project to develop a robust model and understanding of the basin architecture of the Stuart Shelf to guide exploration for sedimentary copper in this area.

Project summary

Sedimentary-hosted copper deposits are the second most important source of copper in the world and the Stuart Shelf has long been considered as having considerable potential for sedimentary-hosted Cu resources due to similarities with the world-class African Copperbelt.

The project will improve knowledge of the basin architecture and distribution, thickness and depth of key lithostratigraphic units within the Neoproterozoic and older underlying basin deposits, which provide key control on the likely location of sedimentary copper mineralisation. This study will provide fundamental datasets and understanding to help explorers more readily explore for sedimentary copper deposits in South Australia.

25 drillholes from across the Stuart Shelf have been selected by a comprehensive screening process as the foundation for regional interpretation and the basin analysis. Liaising with exploration companies throughout the project will provide opportunities to access and include recent industry drill cores into this project.

Map of project area

Project diary

March 2023

As part of Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future’s 'Geochemistry for Basin Prospectivity' module, a study containing new geochemical data and associated sample metadata has been released. The data is from samples collected by the Baas Becking laboratories in the 1970s from deposits and surrounding areas in the Stuart Shelf. The legacy samples were reanalysed using modern analytical techniques and include potential source and host rocks.

Download the data

December 2022

At Discovery Day 2022 Dr Susanne Schmid, one of our CSIRO partners, gave an update on our collaborative research in this project, including showcasing how facies analysis, diagenesis and geophysics improve our understanding of the Stuart Shelf basin evolution and copper mineralisation.

November 2022

Dr Susanne Schmid, CSIRO’s project leader of our joint sedimentary copper project, presented Copper exploration in sedimentary basins - reducing the search space using a mineral systems approach at a recent Mineral Exploration Group of Western Australia meeting. The talk also showcased the Stuart Shelf work currently being jointly undertaken.

September 2022

Dr Carmen Krapf gave a presentation on the project, including an updated stratigraphy and sequence stratigraphic interpretation for the Stuart Shelf at the Central Australian Basin Symposium in Darwin.

Download the CABS 2022 presentation (PDF, 15.6 MB)

August 2022

The sedimentary copper project has released two big updates, a 3D model and an interactive South Australian Neoproterozoic Sediment-hosted Copper Occurrence map.

Stuart Shelf Sedimentary Copper 3D model

This new dataset provides important stratigraphic surfaces in 3D for the project area within the Stuart Shelf.

These areas include:

  1. Top of the Pandurra Formation
  2. Top of Beda Basalt
  3. Top of Tapley Hill Formation
  4. Base of Whyalla Sandstone.

Access the 3D model

South Australian Neoproterozoic Sediment-hosted Copper Occurrence

For the first time, users are able to interact with this GSSA map using links to the MINDEP database. The map highlights 662 copper occurrences identified as being hosted in Neoproterozoic sediments and further classified as either dominantly stratabound or structurally controlled.

The majority of occurrences are located within the Adelaide Rift Complex, Torrens Hinge Zone and Stuart Shelf, and include the historic copper mines of Kapunda, Blinman and Mt Gunson.

Access the map

May 2022

This month Dr Carmen Krapf presented to the Society of Economic Geologists on early results from the recently completed logging of 10,570 metres of drill core from the Stuart Shelf. This has included collecting thousands of points of gamma data, pXRF and core photography.

The presentation entitled Applying a Petroleum Systems Approach to re-evaluate South Australia’s sedimentary copper potential, was made in conjunction with Indrani Mukherjee from the University of Tasmania, who began the session with a talk on pyrite as an exploration tool for sediment-hosted copper, and Bert De Waele of Fortescue Metal Group, who is principal geologist for the Global Project Generation unit.

View the presentation video

Data collection on this project is now complete, the final number are set out below.

Drillholes logged (May 2022) 25
Drill core logged (metres) 10570
Drillholes Hylogged 25
Gamma data 9245
pXRF data 4722
Detailed core photos 3540
Whole rock samples
(Geoscience Australia – EFTF2)
695 samples taken from 16 drillholes, with an additional 196 samples selected from a further 7 drillholes representing 42 distinct units

March 2022

The project has progressed with an additional two drillholes logged since the last update. The project continues to collect additional samples, with additional results expected mid-year.

Drillholes logged (March 2022) 22 (of 25 for the project)
Drill core logged (metres) 9530
Additional drillholes Hylogged 7
Gamma data 8630
pXRF data 4370
Whole rock samples
(Geoscience Australia – EFTF2)
396 samples taken from 7 drillholes, with an additional 250 samples selected from a further 5 drillholes representing 42 distinct units

November 2021

This month the Geological Survey of South Australia and CSIRO hosted a hybrid workshop and core viewing session focused on sediment-hosted copper in the Stuart Shelf and Torrens Hinge Zone. The workshop included talks from the project team as well as industry and researchers working in the region. If you missed the workshop you can view it on our YouTube channel.

October 2021

Twenty of the 25 selected drillholes from across the Stuart Shelf have been logged in detail, including the recognition of 18 distinct facies. Drillhole logs have enabled preliminary cross-sections highlighting variation in unit distributions and thickness. Logging is complemented by pXRF, gamma, core photography and select whole rock and petrology samples.

Drillholes logged (October 2021) 20 (of 25 for the project)
Drill core logged (metres) 9154.44
Additional drillholes Hylogged 6
Gamma data 8559
pXRF data 4220
Petrology samples 20
Whole rock samples
(Geoscience Australia – EFTF2)
258 samples taken from 6 drillholes, with an additional 579 samples selected from a further 16 drillholes representing 42 distinct units

August 2021

19 of the 25 selected drillholes across the project area are re-logged with gamma and portable XRF readings taken.

June 2021

GSSA’s Dr Carmen Krapf gives a look at what is coming up in this project with CSIRO including a complete, new analysis of the entire basin.

March 2021

GSSA’s Adrian Fabris presents a talk on sediment-hosted deposits of the Southern Australian Craton as part of the CET online short course on basin-hosted base metal mineral systems.

Project resources

SedCu workshop

The GSSA hosted a one-day workshop in November 2021 to complement the work being done as part of this project. The workshop discussed sedimentary-hosted copper systems in South Australia with a focus on the Stuart Shelf.

View the presentations from the workshop

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