The Geological Survey of New South Wales (NSW) is re-mapping
its industrial mineral deposits, updating the exiting 11-year
old edition, with the aim of raising awareness about mining
opportunities in the eastern Australian state.
The map, "Industrial Mineral Opportunities in New South
Wales", highlights the region’s diverse industrial
mineral wealth. NSW is a globally renowned mining region, with
an economy driven by large and varied mineral and coal
deposits, exploration projects and a burgeoning renewable
The 1:1,500,000 map, which is due to be published in late
2015, showcases numerous current and recently opened industrial
minerals mines, along with opportunities for a wide range of
commodities. Also included are some of the state’s
largest construction materials operations.
The NSW industrial minerals industry currently produces
heavy mineral sands, magnesite, magnetite, limestone, gypsum
and silica in moderate to large quantities. The state is also a
significant producer of bentonite, kaolin, sodium salt,
dimension stone, plus zeolites and construction materials.
In the 2013-14 financial year, NSW produced over 600,000
tonnes heavy mineral sands from the Murray Basin, valued at
over Australian dollar (A$) 290m ($211.7m**). The NSW portion
of the Murray Basin hosts over 113m tonnes contained heavy
minerals (zircon, ilmenite and rutile), and two operating
mines. There are several new projects under development and
ongoing exploration activity.
NSW also produced around 357,000 tonnes agricultural lime
and 3.6m tonnes limestone in 2013-14, valued at over A$24m.
The state is famous for gemstones, such as the black opal,
unique to the state, and has also been a significant producer
of industrial diamonds, corundum (sapphire and ruby), rhodonite
and topaz (silexite). Many stunning mineral specimens have been
produced from the Broken Hill line of lode, where the world
famous Broken Hill silver-lead-zinc mine is based.
The Ginkgo heavy mineral sands mine at
NSW, is one of a number of significant mineral
in the state. (Source: Cristal Mining
The new map, which includes high quality images, updates and
improves upon the last edition, produced in 2004, and
highlights the distribution and critical significance of
industrial minerals in NSW to investors, geologists and the
It distinguishes the primary commodity for each site, the
operation status (where production was recorded at some stage
between July 2009 and July 2014) and key state-wide and
regional statistical data, such as production trends for heavy
mineral sands and limestone.
The state’s key infrastructure is shown,
including ports, roads, railways, transmission lines, gas
pipelines and existing processing plants relevant to industrial
minerals. New map features include selected areas of
prospectivity, such as buried and typically mineralised heavy
mineral strand lines in the Murray Basin and opal fields,
including Lightning Ridge, the source of NSW’s
unique black opal.
NSW also has the potential to produce commercial quantities
of rare earths, vermiculite, and bauxite.
Other industrial mineral projects
The Mineral Systems group of the Geological Survey of NSW is
currently undertaking a Murray Basin heavy mineral sands
project. The Murray Basin is an intracratonic sedimentary
basin known for its high quality coarse-grained rutile, zircon
and ilmenite. It covers 300,000km2 of NSW, Victoria
and South Australia.
The Loxton–Parilla Sands, which extend over much of
this area, hosts major heavy mineral sand deposits and remains
highly prospective for new discoveries. Existing data is being
compiled for graphical display and data export. This work aims
to improve understanding of the potential for, and genesis of,
heavy mineral sand deposits throughout the basin.
*Cameron Perks is a geoscientist and David Forster
is a senior geoscientist at the Geological Survey of New
South Wales, Australia.
** Conversion made October 2015