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South Australia hopes to unlock mineral deposits in the Gawler region through the results of exploration challenge ExploreSA.

The challenge, run by the South Australian Government and Unearthed Solutions, is supported by an additional $5 million in investment by the state government.

According to South Australia’s Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan, it is becoming harder to find new mineral deposits globally.

But the first winner of the challenge and receiver of $100,000 prize, Per-OZ, was recognised for its methodology that could help geologists “find that needle in the haystack.”

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

“… 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.”

Around 2200 data specialists from more than 100 countries interrogated Geological Survey of South Australia’s holdings of new and historical data across the Gawler Craton.

The analysis took just five months and was described as an “amazing leap forward” in the use of artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and alternative mathematical data analysis.

Unearthed Solutions has compiled all targets generated by the challenge into an interactive map and made this publicly available on its website.

“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,” Unearthed Solutions director Justin Strharsky said.

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