The Creating Opportunities for Resource Exploration (CORE) initiative was undertaken by the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS) and was designed to maximise opportunities for the exploration, discovery and development of new mineral and petroleum resources. It included $2 million per annum for an accelerated program to assess the Northern Territory's (NT) shale gas resources.
Flagship components of CORE included the acquisition of new pre-competitive geoscience data designed to stimulate exploration across the Territory, a grants program for greenfields exploration and programs to raise the Territory’s profile as a destination for minerals and energy exploration investment.
During the initiative, there was a substantial improvement in the Territory’s coverage of baseline geophysical data. Around 390,000km2 or 30% of the NT was covered with new gravity geophysical data at 4km spacing or better. A further 112,000km2 was covered with airborne magnetic and radiometric geophysical surveys. Industry contributed almost $800,000 to increase the density of data in these publicly available geophysical surveys.
A significant focus of geoscience work under the initiative was in the greater McArthur Basin, including a 3D geological model, analysis of geochemical and physical characteristics of prospective shales, release of a seismic dataset for the Beetaloo Sub-basin, a rock properties database and regional stratigraphic characterisation of the Wilton Package.
The new data have also been utilised to develop a well constrained understanding of the shale gas resources in the Beetaloo Sub-basin. The data have also been incorporated into a new greater McArthur Basin SEEBASE model that visualises basin thickness across the northern half of the NT.
In east Arnhem Land, mapping of the Arnhem Province completely revised the geological framework of the province and identified correlations with the prospective Pine Creek Orogen.
In the eastern Aileron Province of Central Australia, 1:100 000-scale geological mapping was completed in the Jervois area. A dedicated study of copper mineral systems in the Aileron Province has yielded new insights into the formation of the Jervois copper deposit as well as the regional copper potential of the province.
In the Amadeus Basin in Central Australia, work largely focused on redefining the poorly understood Neoproterozoic stratigraphy of the basin that has substantial petroleum and minerals potential. This improved understanding underpinned new geological mapping of the Henbury area that has been completed in the central part of the basin.
The first-ever seismic survey across the Tennant Creek mineral field was completed in collaboration with industry, resulting in a unique dataset that has provided the first images of the underlying geology related to the formation of gold and copper deposits in the area.
NTGS also co-invested with Geoscience Australia under the Commonwealth’s four-year (2016–2020) $100.5 million Exploring for the Future program, with a focus on the Barkly region. During CORE, this included the 1,100km South Nicholson Basin seismic survey (of which 735km is in the NT), new gravity surveys, regional soil geochemistry and hydrogeochemistry surveys, and the rollout of grids of passive seismic and magnetotelluric surveys.
Through the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations industry grants program, NTGS co-funded 16,000m of industry drilling in greenfields areas during CORE, as well as 14 industry geophysical surveys using seven different techniques.
There were major upgrades in the online availability of industry exploration reports and data. The GEMIS delivery system was upgraded, with all open file mineral exploration reports since 1901 made available for download, and NTGS Products, petroleum well completion reports and core sampling reports added to the system.
NTGS also implemented a new exploration geochemistry and drilling database, and a project was undertaken to capture all data from current titles into the database, with capture of all new incoming data from industry now ongoing.
A major program of promotion and investment attraction under CORE included five major industry delegations to China, Japan and Korea; participation in Australia Minerals and Australia Petroleum promotional events in four Asian and two North American markets.
An independent review of NT exploration initiatives between 2007-2017 found that the investment attraction strategy has contributed to $366 million in direct investment into the Territory.