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10 August 2020 4 min read

Making the right connections can unlock a gold mine

Kalamazoo Resources is an Australian junior gold and base metal explorer, with interests in the Castlemaine region of Victoria. They have been working with CSIRO for the last two years, gaining access to vital research and development resources and expertise to grow and shape their business, funded by an Australian Government Innovations Connections Grant.

Hayley McGillivray, CSIRO
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Hayley McGillivray, CSIRO Innovation Facilitator ©  © COPYRIGHT 2018 Damien Smith Photography

Hayley is a Facilitator in the Innovation Connections element of the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) Entrepreneurs' Programme.

My work is focussed on connecting small to medium businesses (SMEs) with experts in the research sector. I am based in Perth and work across Western Australia.

The Innovation Connections Grants are designed specifically to help SME's access research expertise to take forward an idea or innovation.

My role is to help SMEs find the right researchers from universities, CSIRO and other research organisations. Finding the right match is a crucial step to success. The Innovations Connections grant provides a dollar-for-dollar funding match to successful R&D projects and collaborations.

Kalamazoo Resources successfully applied and received an Innovations Connections grant in 2019 for work at their Wattle Gully gold mine within the Castlemaine project near Bendigo in Victoria.

I was introduced to Kalamazoo Resources before their Castlemaine project commenced. They were facing a regolith challenge on one of their other project areas. My role was to understand the businesses’ needs and support them in identifying and engaging with the right researchers.

When Kalamazoo's priorities changed it was my job to understand what they were seeking to achieve at Castlemaine and then to connect them to Adam who I knew had the right expertise and tools to address these challenges.

Dr Adam Bath and CSIRO's Mineral Systems Mapping team

CSIRO's Mineral Systems Mapping team, (from left to right) Katie Woodall, John Walshe, Adam Bath and Tina Shelton, sampling drill core from the Wattle Gully deposit, central Victorian goldfields.

Dr Adam Bath and the CSIRO Mineral Systems Mapping team's work focuses on extending the envelope of detection of new resources from a known resource from hundreds of metres to kilometres, to improve the value of Australia's 'mature' mineral provinces. Adam is a mineral systems scientist at CSIRO, specialising in mapping hydrothermal orebodies, particularly gold and copper, using microscopy, mineralogy and geochemistry techniques.

Hayley, familiar with the Mineral Systems team's goals and expertise, made the connection between what Kalamazoo Resources were aiming to achieve and our work.

Kalamazoo were seeking a greater understanding of the alteration footprint of the gold-bearing orebody at Wattle Gully, located in the Castlemaine area.

Kalamazoo had access to ~80,000 metres of historical drill core located in the project area. The team were able to examine diamond drilled cores and, using the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and portable x-ray fluorescence to integrate minerology with lithogeochemistry, in order to map the different alteration zones relative to rock type across the deposit.

Victorian gold systems are quite narrow. The Wattle Creek deposit is characterised by narrow gold shoots emanating throughout the underground geology. We looked for alterations in the soil geology associated with gold mineralisation which could be used to direct future exploration.

Interestingly, the team found an association between white mica chemistry and distance to the gold orebody. They identified that white mica chemistry changed predictably closer to the orebody, forming a detectable 'alteration halo'.

Concentrating on white micas and mapping these alternation haloes is helping unlock new gold mining target. The next stage is taking this knowledge and applying it to a larger scale.

Changes in white mica chemistry are not unique to gold systems. This approach can also be adopted for the discovery of other metals distributed by hydrothermal fluids, such as copper, lithium, zinc, lead and rare earth elements (REE).

Kalamazoo Resources have been a great industry partner to work with. They have been responsive, knowledgeable, provided key information about the area, helped direct the focus of the study and have been keen to see the results of the project at every stage.

For our team, it was a rewarding opportunity to see real world impact between science and business. Our findings have been crucial in determining the next strategic steps Kalamazoo are undertaking to mature their Castlemaine interests.

Luke Mortimer, Kalamazoo Resources
Head and shoulers portrait of a man in blue shirt
Luke Mortimer, Kalamazoo Resources

Luke is Exploration Manager at Kalamazoo Resources; an industry professional and experienced geoscientist.

I was introduced to the Innovations Connections scheme through work contacts. We were about to embark on a new exploration project in Victoria and wanted to involve CSIRO.

The Innovations Connections grant was important to be able to initiate our first project. However, whilst the funding is one helpful part of this process it was the opportunity to collaborate with CSIRO which was more important to us.

We would not normally have access to this level of expertise and resources as a junior company and SME and the funding made it easier for us to commit to the projects.

The connection between Hayley to Adam was crucial in the acquisition of the grant and ultimately to the success of the project.

The outcome of the first project at Wattle Creek was so useful we have initiated a second project.

We have now received a second Innovation Connection grant based on those learnings and are looking on how we can apply it practically in the field of gold exploration here in Victoria.

From our experience, Kalamazoo would recommend working with CSIRO. CSIRO bring a certain level of respect and credibility to the R&D process, which is something we are able to promote to our shareholders and investors.

The Innovation Connections program has been of great benefit and value to us as a junior company and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with the CSIRO.

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