In Australia, geologists are posed with increasing challenges in exploring for mineral resources under deeper and deeper soil cover. To reduce drilling costs and explore smarter, companies look to advancements in technology and geoscience to gather the most information possible from drilling and other sampling techniques. Consultants are often required for this specialised work.
A pilot program at the Australian National University (ANU) seeks to utilize a win-win-win opportunity by offering internships for students to complete the needed analysis and interpretation on behalf of the host mining company. The benefit goes three ways:
- Students practice field work and lab analysis, gaining invaluable technical and work experience, as well as course credit.
- The mining industry gets access to the University’s cutting-edge technology and emerging talent.
- The ANU Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) forms closer ties with industry, potentially providing pathways for new research and technology to reach industry faster.
The first internship to test this potential is currently underway. Reuben Parige, an undergraduate studying geoscience, travelled to Cannington Mine in North Queensland to complete an internship with South 32. Parige visited Cannington’s exploration program as well as the mine site for eight days to sample drill core, learn about regional geology and visit the active underground mine. Parige will use high precision in situ analytical techniques at the Centre for Advanced Microscopy at ANU to search for chemical signatures in specific minerals that will help inform South32 of the prospective potential of different exploration targets.
According to Parige, “Coming away not only with lab experience at ANU, but also first-hand, meaningful industry work with South 32 is a huge opportunity. To meet and work with the variety of people on site is even better.”
If the program proves successful, RSES will seek other opportunities for students at the Honours or Masters level to conduct real-world projects on behalf of Australian industries.