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Drilling companies are being invited to take part in a $3 million program to unearth the mineral resources potential of the state’s farwest as part of South Australia’s Copper Strategy.

The PACE Copper Coompana Drilling Program aims to build up the stock of geoscientific information in the western margins of South Australia’s mineral-rich Gawler Craton.

The open tender calls for high-quality drill core samples from beneath the Nullarbor Plain to be used to interpret the geology, structure, history and mineral potential of the area.

The State Government’s PACE Copper initiative has committed $2 million and Geoscience Australia a further $1 million to fund the program. Tenders close 16 December 2016.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said, "South Australia’s far west remains one of the nation’s great underexplored frontiers. We want to change that by helping geologists unlock the mysteries beneath the Nullarbor Plain.

"By supporting drilling programs we can improve our knowledge of the mineral potential of the western Gawler Craton and excite the next generation of explorers to target South Australia.

"Copper demand will boom over the coming years as the appetite for the commodity from Asian markets continues to surge, and South Australia is perfectly positioned to capitalise on that demand. That’s why we are partnering with industry to explore for and develop this valuable resource, as well as actively seeking to further develop other mineral resources at the same time."

South Australia’s aim to triple its annual production of copper to more than 1 million tonnes by 2030 requires discoveries of new deposits that can add to the state’s already large reserves.

The Coompana drilling program will help to identify targets for explorers by providing new information about the geology of the vast underexplored western Gawler Craton. The drilling program builds on the recent acquisition of extensive regional geophysical data.

Tender documentation is available on and through the Industry Capability Network (ICN) gateway