by Dan Oancea

A superb initiative of the Australian Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources and the Minister for Education, Science and Training materialized on August 10, 2006 with the launching of the first offshore mineral map.

The immense Australian water frontier (pending an approval for an extended jurisdiction could total 14.4 million square kilometers, which is greater than its land mass) was detailed mapped for the first time on the whole breadth of the 200 nautical miles representing the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Australian Offshore Mineral Locations map is a result of a fruitful co-operation between Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship and division of Exploration and Mining, with input from many more state and territory agencies.

Bathymetry of the seafloor provides the context for understanding depositional processes that lead to the accumulation of heavy mineral sands, manganese nodules, phosphorites, copper, tin, gold and of course diamonds.

Images on the map show mineral finds and provide information regarding the marine exploration and exploitation process.

The map can be viewed online by using the Australian Marine Spatial Information System (AMSIS) or could be downloaded from here as a pdf file.

I don’t know if it is a result of the map getting published, but the latest news coming from down under point to an emerging marine diamond staking rush in the Sea of Timor.

Oil companies drilled what seem to be kimberlites (similar with Ellendale mine’s diamond host rock) in the ocean floor west of Melville and Bathurst Islands. Geologists suppose that the same geological structure which hosts the Argyle mine (the world’s largest diamond mine) stretches to north of Darwin. Elkedra Diamonds considers that the structural feature could extend on the land and it has already applied for exploration licenses for the above mentioned islands.

Sincere congratulations to our Australian colleagues.