Mining companies could more accurately pinpoint reserves of valuable minerals using a new water-tasting approach developed by the national science agency, CSIRO, in research supported by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA).
CSIRO researcher Dr Nathan Reid led a team of scientists analysing samples of groundwater from the Capricorn region in Western Australia, where layers of sediment and weathering are believed to hide potential ore deposits from view.
The researchers discovered broad 'haloes' of altered water chemistry around known deposits of gold, uranium, and other minerals where interaction with the ore systems had left distinctive traces in the water.
"Groundwater penetrates through covering sediments and interacts directly with the bedrock, dissolving trace amounts of the minerals present into solution," Dr Reid said.
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