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Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP Minister for Energy and Mining

Multiple multi-billion-dollar mining projects could be ignited following the results of an international challenge to unlock the potential of South Australia’s resource-rich Gawler region.

ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge, run by the South Australian Government and innovation specialists Unearthed Solutions, had a total prize pool of $250,000 and attracted broad domestic and international interest.

Bouyed by its success, the State Government has allocated an additional $5 million from the Economic and Business Growth Fund to the Geological Survey of South Australia (GSSA) to flesh out the winning concepts into prospects for exploration companies to make the next big discovery.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he was pleased to congratulate the first prize winner, Per-OZ, for their innovative entry which brings together traditional geology, machine learning, advancing modelling, and precision drilling.

“Team Per-OZ, short for Peru/Australia, is a collaborative effort by Dr Paul Pearson from Latin Global and Dr John McLellan from GMEX who both specialise in structural geology, prospectivity analysis, data science, machine learning and modelling,” said the Minister.

“The judging panel chose the solution presented by Per-OZ as the best overall submission due to their unique methodology which could help geologists in the field find that needle in the haystack.

“Their unique approach may put us one step closer to uncovering new economic mineral deposits in one of the most significant iron oxide copper-gold regions in the world.

“By looking at traditional geology with techniques from other disciplines, we can peer into the depths of the earth in a new way, and might just uncover the next Olympic Dam or Carrapateena,” he said.

The Minister for Energy and Mining added that the competition drew around 2200 data specialists from more than 100 countries to interrogate massive holdings of new and historical data held by the Geological Survey of South Australia’s (GSSA) across the Gawler Craton.

“Globally, it’s becoming harder to find new mineral deposits, and the next generation of discoveries will need to go beyond traditional geology.

“The analysis of this information treasure trove by data and geoscientists in just five months is an amazing leap forward in the use of artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and alternative mathematical data analysis for the mining sector.

“The GSSA will use this new funding to develop, validate, and deliver publicly available Next Generation Mineral Systems maps for explorers.”

Unearthed Solutions Director Justin Strharsky said ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge is a clear demonstration of the South Australian industry’s commitment to harnessing the power of data.

“The world is more interconnected than ever, and the Gawler Challenge has shown that the future will be shaped by those who embrace innovation and collaboration.

“South Australia is set to reap huge economic benefits and is sending a positive, forward-thinking message to students and international investors that this is where the future lays.

“The Gawler Craton region currently includes BHP's Olympic Dam copper-gold mine and OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold deposits, as well as significant zinc and iron ore deposits.

“All mineral targets, models and data will be made publicly available to encourage companies to explore for new deposits in the Gawler Craton, reinforcing South Australia’s reputation as the centre of mining excellence and innovation in Australia,” he said.

The category winners for ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge are:

  • Overall Winning Submission Per-OZ ($100,000 prize)
  • Runner Up Caldera Analytics ($50,000 prize)
  • Undercover Award DeMIST ($15,000 prize)
  • Rock Licker Award Jack Maughan ($15,000 prize)
  • Future Data Award Sam Bost ($15,000 prize)
  • Breaking New Ground Award Avant Data Solutions ($15,000 prize)
  • Student Prize Sparveon ($20,000 prize)

Unearthed Solutions has compiled all targets generated by the challenge into an interactive map which is sure to excite investors and explorers, alike. This unique asset can be found on the Unearthed website from 16 September 2020.

About ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge
ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge is a major global challenge run by the South Australian Government in partnership with open innovation platform Unearthed Solutions.

Bringing together geologists, data scientists and interested parties from around the world, the challenge tasked participants with identifying or predicting areas of potential mineralisation within South Australia’s mineral-rich Gawler Craton region, using any technique.

A panel of expert judges assessed submissions, and the targets that have been produced will be made public to incentivise exploration across the Gawler Craton, contributing directly to driving new mineral discoveries.

Tuesday 15 September 2020