New tech for mining sweep
WA is investing in new technology to monitor seismic activity.
Curtin University is setting up new technology in a project funded by the WA state government through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia.
Equipment originally developed to identify locations to drill for gold has been re-purposed to detect seismic energy.
Curtin’s distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) seismic-detection system can measure subsurface waves as they pass through rocks and soil.
“This new technology will create new explorative opportunities in Western Australia, where seismic surveying was previously either too expensive or challenging for mineral companies,” says WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.
Mr Johnston says the devices could find the next “big discovery”, allowing the state to open new mines and create new jobs.
“The government is committed to investing in scientific research that supports our mining sector in unlocking our state’s mineral potential,” he said.
“The world-leading work of Western Australian researchers provides a competitive edge to our State’s mining industry.”
The DAS system uses fibre-optic sensors that are many times cheaper than conventional seismic technology, while also being able to deliver higher data density and resolution.
The high-tech solutions developed by Curtin researcher Milovan Urosevic and his team also means that DAS can be rapidly laid out in both 2D and 3D configurations.
Using fibre-optic cable also allows a level of corrosion resistance that makes DAS technology able to operate long-term in saturated and hyper-saline conditions.
“This new technology will create new exploration opportunities in Western Australia where seismic surveying was previously either too expensive or challenging for mineral companies,” the minister said.
The project was announced alongside a policy to tap deeper into WA’s resources and energy riches, which is being pushed by the federal LNP as part of its election campaign.