2018 NExUS Program Alumni

Highlights of the 2018 NExUS program

The third annual National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS) took place over three weeks in November-December 2018, and was attended by thirty-two eager and excited geoscience students and early career mining and exploration professionals.

The 2018 NExUS cohort represented every State and Territory and were selected from eleven different universities, together with early career geoscientists from five different exploration and mining companies, Geoscience Australia and the NSW geological survey.

Participants (including geology and geology/engineering undergraduates, honours and masters students, and recent graduates), are encouraged to not only to think critically about the challenges facing mineral explorers today, but also the technology and practices required to overcome these challenges.

NExUS 2018 group photo
  • 2018 program participants

    The 2018 NExUS cohort were, pictured above, from back-row, left to right:

    • Emma Lewis - University of Queensland
    • Irene Koutsoumbis - University of Sydney
    • Bridie Jackson - University of Sydney
    • Hans Dirks - James Cook University/Evolution Mining 
    • Benjamin Kowaluk - University of Tasmania
    • Fontae Franks - University of Adelaide
    • Joshua Denholm - University of Tasmania
    • Nicholas Wauchope - Metals X
    • Katherine Gioseffi - Queensland University of Technology
    • Owen Hackenberg - University of Queensland
    • Dianna Villanueva - Evolution Mining
    • Ben Kimpton - University of Adelaide/Independence Group
    • Ross Chandler - James Cook University
    • Shannon Sloan - University of Adelaide, NExUS Demonstrator
    • Nicole Gardner - Queensland University of Technology
    • Celina Sanso - University of Adelaide
    • Louis Johansson - University of Sydney
    • Anna Birjak - Monash University
    • Eric Zurek-haidamous - James Cook University/Mount Isa Mines
    • Zoe Morgan - KGL Resources
    • Luke Blais - Arrow Minerals
    • Drew Lubiniecki - University of Adelaide, NExUS Demonstrator
    • Caitlin Jarvis - Curtin University
    • Owen 'Yeet' Welsh - University of Queensland

    Front row, left to right:

    • Jiannie Chin - University of Tasmania
    • Thomas Cotter - Queensland University of Technology
    • Andrew Clark - Geoscience Australia
    • Patrick Lane - Western Areas Ltd
    • Ivan Schroder - Geoscience Australia
    • Teagan Romyn - University of Adelaide
    • Megan Hobbs - Geological Survey of NSW
    • Claudia Bowman - Monash University
    • Adrian Machuca - Monash University 
    • Luke Dollar - Curtin University
    • Richard Lilly - University of Adelaide/Mount Isa Mines/NExUS Program Leader, not pictured
  • Week one

    Week one highlights

    Excited and fresh-faced on Monday morning the participants (nicknamed ‘NExFam’) assembled in the state-of-the-art South Australian Drill Core Reference Library in Tonsley, SA; their base for the first week.

    Diving into the core themes the class was given an introduction as to what NExUS is about with presentations from Rohan Cobcroft (Geological Survey of South Australia) and Phil McFadden (UNCOVER) on the challenges facing the exploration and mining sector.

    This was followed by Stephan Thiel and Kate Robertson (GSSA) with an in-depth explanation of the 4D architecture of the Gawler Craton, focusing on the newly acquired AusLamp data.

    This was rounded off by showcasing the potential of Magnetotellurics (MT) for deep crustal imaging in the facilities 3D visualisation suite. Anthony Reid (GSSA) gave an enthusiastic presentation of the history of the GSSA and the lessons we can draw from the past to help us in the future.

    All this in the first day, setting the pattern for the rest of NExUS: a knowledge packed three week journey.

    Week one continued to expand on the UNCOVER themes with a one-day regolith workshop under the expert guidance of Carmen Krapf (pictured above left) and Malcolm Sheard (GSSA), with components of biogeochemistry and hydrology from Anna Petts (GSSA) and Adrian Costar (DEW), followed by a one-day geochemical dispersion workshop by Ravi Anand and Walid Salama from CSIRO.

    Discussions and practical exercises on sampling mediums, regolith interfaces and appropriate geochemical techniques put the new-found knowledge to the test.

    Core logging exercises on core from the recently completed Coompana drilling campaign, led by Rian Dutch and Adrian Fabris (GSSA) were followed by a tour of the Hylogger incorporating a hyperspectral data workshop taught by Alan Mauger (GSSA).

    Week one ended with a stand-out structural geology workshop by Jun Cowan and Brett Davis (Orefind) utilising their new software where students learnt to identify and plot structures using assay data as well as the ‘dos and don’ts’ of collecting structural measurements from drill core.

  • Week two

    Week two highlights

    Week two took the NExFam cohort to Strathalbyn in the Adelaide Hills, where lessons learnt in week one were put into practice in the field at Hillgrove Resources’ Wheal Ellen prospect.

    A wide range of activities took place in a crammed 3 days of intensive field work; while some teams focused on detailed mapping of the prospect under the tutelage of Michael Belperio (Newmont, pictured top right) others conducted geophysical surveys with Mike Hatch (pictured lower right), Derrick Hasterok, Ben Kay (University of Adelaide) and representatives from ZZ Resistivity, Zonge Geophysics and Geoscience Australia.

    Detailed and honest discussions were had whilst acquiring data from induced polarity, magnetics, resistivity, MT and gravity surveys as well as geochemical soil sampling. Evening discussions on each day’s activities and pXRF analysis of the soils proved fruitful in practicing data processing and analysis.

    NExFam also visited the historic Brukunga pyrite mine to learn about rehabilitation from John Mignone (GSSA) and the Boart Longyear drilling research facility, learning how new technology is transforming the drilling industry.

    Returning to Adelaide for the end of the week, NExFam attended the South Australian Exploration and Mining Conference (SA EMC), giving many of the students their first experience attending a conference, and a great chance to test their newly developed networking skills with enthusiasm.

    Inspired by the evening networking talks, an impromptu session was also held by representatives of the of AusIMM Women in Mining Network (WIMnet) and WOMEESA on inclusion and diversity in the mining industry.

    The day was topped off by an inspiring session with senior geoscientists from BHP discussing their career paths and passing on some personal advice for graduates.

  • Week three

    Week three highlights

    Week three was based at Wallaroo on the historic Copper Coast of the beautiful Yorke Peninsula where Richard Lilly taught several workshops on ore textures and breccia systems combined with daily field trips to historical copper mine sites.

    Highlights of the week were paragenetic logging exercises conducted on highly altered drill core from Rex Minerals IOCG-Skarn Hillside deposit, in situ regolith studies courtesy of Colin Conner, as well as numerous opportunities for specimen fossicking (including beautiful atacamite!).

    Week three tied together the knowledge and skills developed during the first two weeks with fun field work and enthusiastic discussions among participants.

    To conclude the course, Gavin Springbett (G&S Resources) presented a workshop on JORC code, resource estimation and a 3D ore body modelling session in Maptek Vulcan software.

    The final morning also included a 'Real World' talk and highlighted the importance of aboriginal cultural heritage, safety systems and effective communication and teamwork.

  • Extra activities

    NExUS was not all work and no play

    Attendance to a test match at the Adelaide Oval, an optional yoga session and wine tours were just some of the activities available to NExFam during free time in Adelaide, as well as daily sports and swimming while in the field.

    An essential component of NExUS is networking; giving participants the confidence, means and contacts to return home and continue learning from those they met during the course.

    Most nights throughout the course finished with an informal talk by industry professionals on a diverse range of subjects from general advice for graduate geologists to different perspectives on exploration methodologies.

    Leading industry professionals such as Kathy Ehrig, Jamie King and Jesse Clarke (BHP), Janine Harzig (President AusIMM), Joel Blake and Alex Richards (Rio Tinto), Glen Little and Anna Olgivie (Minatour Exploration), Kevin Stephens and Christine Thomson (FMG) and Josh Leigh (AIG) all shared their experiences, advice and some great stories. Importantly these informal evening sessions gave participants insights into the different aspects of working for both large and small companies as well as the opportunity to ask a myriad of questions on all aspects of careers and exploration. The cohort also fostered strong ties between themselves with friendships made and experiences swapped: