Core Skills 2019: Brisbane Exploration Data Centre

  • By Dale Sims, Core Skills course convenor

This year’s joint Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG)/AusIMM ‘Core Skills’ five-day course occurred in late October at the Queensland Government’s Exploration Data Centre (EDC) in Zillmere, Brisbane.

This was the third event in the series to date, following on from the initial two-week event in 2015 and a one-week version in 2018.

Core Skills 2019 group photo with GSQ’s Joe Tang and Dominic Brown.

This year saw 22 attendees at the course, with participating geoscientists travelling from as far as Tasmania, Perth and Mongolia. The EDC is one of two major core storage facilities run by the Queensland state government. It has been the venue for all courses to date, given the extremely strong support and assistance we enjoy from EDC staff who manage all the core retrieval and layout logistics.

The Core Skills course aims to develop introductory-level industry-focused skills for students, recent graduates and early career geoscientists in the areas of core logging, sampling, assaying, quality assurance/quality control (QAQC) and data interpretation.

Through the ongoing and generous support of Evolution Mining, attendees working in pairs log and interpret around 2000 m of core from the Mount Rawdon gold mine. They build up an understanding of the host rock stratigraphy and architecture, as well as the alteration and mineralisation system from a ‘clean-sheet’ approach, based solely on direct observation of core and through assay data. Attendees plot their logs on paper cross sections and interpret the geology on two sections before additional data is added. This builds their appreciation of the full dataset available on both the cross sections and globally within the deposit.

Team logging of Mt Rawdon core at the EDC.

The five-day program also includes guest presenters discussing geotechnical data logging and usage. This year featured:

  • Malcolm Bridges (AMC Consultants)
  • the Tick Hill exploration case study with Dr Bill Perkins
  • career speakers including Ann Ledwidge (Mako Gold); Genna McDonagh (FMG Exploration); Konrad Taylor (BiarriEMI); Mark Musk and Lucy Wittholz
  • volcanic architecture and facies discussions with Dr Carol Simpson (Carol Simpson and Associates)
  • pXRF demonstrations with Joe Tang and Dominic Brown (GSQ)
  • visits to the ALS Global sample preparation and analytical laboratories with Shaun Kenny (ALS Global)
  • inspection of the EDC’s HyLogger and UQ’s GeoTEK XYZ automated loggers
  • and finally, a day on geostatistics and 3D modelling of the Rawdon dataset with James Pocoe (James Pocoe Consulting) and myself (Dale Sims Consulting).
Discussing data collection and usage at UQ’s GeoTEK XYZ logging facility.

Although the week’s program is very full, we also manage to include the Wednesday night GeoPub in the Brisbane Mall and a course dinner at the Port Office Hotel to reinforce the importance of networking!

Feedback from the participants at the end of the course was very positive with 95 per cent of attendees confirming they would strongly be recommending the course to their peers or recent graduates:

  • ‘very good coverage of essential skills’
  • ‘really enjoyed the course and how it was about the whole value chain’
  • ‘the course was great and everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable – I learnt a lot’
  • ‘this course has been a great experience and definitely exceeded my expectations by providing very efficient industry related skills that will help immensely in my personal career development’
  • ‘very good – theory and practical.’

Some attendees with a higher level of experience found aspects of the course too introductory, suggesting that more advanced courses or detailed content could be developed around such topics as collecting and using oriented core, sampling processes and theory, drilling methods and program design, alteration mineral identification and a broader overview of mineralisation systems. These comments are very helpful and additional courses will be investigated although some of these areas are already catered for in existing advertised AIG or AusIMM offerings.

All participants and presenters are sincerely thanked for their support and assistance, including the AIG and AusIMM in their continued support and advertising of the course. In particular we would like to thank Evolution Mining for the Mt Rawdon preliminary site visit, drillcore and data access; the EDC staff of Chris, Berny and Lex for logistical support above and beyond the call of duty; and our helpers for the week Lucy Wittholz, Mark Musk and Carol Simpson. Rio Tinto are thanked again this year for their strong support in sending seven attendees to the course including two geologists from Oyu Tolgoi.

Through these courses AIG and AusIMM hope to support our developing professionals by helping them to gain industry-focused practical training in their chosen fields for a career in exploration and mining geoscience.

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