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The Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) is collaborating with the MinEx Cooperative Research Centre as part of an ongoing pre-competitive geoscience program.

The program, called the National Drilling Initiative (NDI), is expected to address declining mineral discovery rates by mapping and defining potential mineral systems in remote and underexplored regions of WA.

It will also aim to reduce financial and technical risks associated with exploration and increase industry investment by providing high-quality precompetitive geoscience data. However, the initiative is not considered to be an exploration program.

The NDI’s phase one is currently underway at the Nifty copper operation, which is wholly owned by Cyprium Metals after it acquired the mine from Metals X in March 2021.

It is located in the north-eastern Pilbara region of WA, approximately 350km southeast of Port Hedland, and is currently under care and maintenance.

Phase one of the work will drill multiple holes to depths of up to 500m to understand the geological factors controlling the sedimentary-hosted copper system. This will be done by using novel coiled tube technology to access bedrock in a faster, cheaper and environmentally cleaner manner.

It is expected that the Nifty drilling program will be completed in four to six weeks, with preliminary data being released later this year through the GSWA and MinEx data portals.

“Despite copper’s importance in driving net zero emissions, very little is understood geologically about sedimentary copper systems,” GSWA executive director Michele Spencer said.

“The Paterson Province is an important exploration frontier and the geoscience data we collect at the Nifty site will play an important role in driving exploration across the region and WA.”

GSWA’s participation in the NDI is being funded by the WA Government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme.