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4/20/2017 by mdc
Emily Smith reports that geologists have discovered evidence of rare minerals in western Queensland that could be used to develop cutting edge technologies worth trillions of dollars. Experts from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the University of Queensland found the evidence of platinum and gold as well as rare-earth elements used in technologies from hybrid vehicle batteries to super-conducting magnets.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the discovery could open up a whole new frontier for Queensland. Beyond the potential economic boost for Queensland, the discovery brings a new understanding of mineral potential in a previously under-explored area, he said.

The discovery, loosely being referred to as the Diamantina Minerals Province, covers an area from the copper, gold and platinum-rich Fifield in central New South Wales, through Queensland north-west country and up to the Merlin diamond mine in the Northern Territory, where one of Australia largest diamonds was discovered.

University of Queensland emeritus professor Ken Collerson and the geologists found the potential resource when they discovered rare geological pipe structures in a remote area of western Queensland, south-west of Mount Isa and near the Northern Territory border. The rare pipes originate from deep within the earth, when pulses of mineral-rich material are forced to the earth crust. These pipes have previously been found only in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Finland, but those in Queensland could be up to six kilometres in diameter.

Minerals likely to be in the pipes include scandium, cobalt, nickel, copper, light and heavy rare-earth elements, yttrium, niobium, hafnium, zirconium, tantalum, phosphorus, silver, gold and platinum group elements, as well as potential for diamonds. The rare- earth elements are a group of chemical elements that exhibit a range of unique properties which are used in many modern and environmental technologies.

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