Deep-dive projects Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian

Broken Hill NSW, Australia

This project is delivering new data and knowledge to assess mineral and groundwater potential and support water management across western New South Wales and Victoria, eastern South Australia and northwest Tasmania.

The Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project is one of 3 deep-dive projects under the Exploring for the Future program. By gathering and analysing geological and geophysical data and making the results publicly available, the program supports regional development and informed decision-making across Australia, resulting in jobs and growth.

The Curnamona Province is a roughly circular block of ancient (Paleo-Mesoproterozoic) rocks that underlies the NSW-SA border, with many similarities to other geological regions with rich mineral wealth like the Gawler Craton and Mount Isa Block. The Curnamona Province hosts the world-class Broken Hill lead-zinc-silver-gold mine that has operated continually since 1885, underpinning much of the local economy, and numerous smaller ore deposits, including gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and critical minerals like cobalt. A geological province is a term used by geologists to describe a large area that encompasses a natural geological feature where the rocks have a common geological history, such as a sedimentary basin, a fold belt or a mountain range.

Map showing the mineral potential of the Curnamona Province and Delamerian Orogen in eastern South Australia, western New South Wales, western Victoria and western Tasmania. It will investigate the mineral and groundwater potential of overlying basins including the Murray-Darling Basin and the upper Darling River floodplain.

The Darling-Curnamona-Delamerian project area

The Delamerian Orogen wraps around the eastern Curnamona Province in New South Wales and South Australia, and extends through Victoria into Tasmania. This is a slightly younger (Neoproterozoic to Early Paleozoic) continental collision zone that was a region of volcanism and mountain building, which has now eroded down and lies mostly under cover of younger sedimentary basins on the Australian mainland. The Delamerian Orogen also hosts high quality mineral deposits, including gold, copper, lead and zinc within igneous (volcanic and granitic) and more weakly metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. This project is assessing the mineral potential undercover in the Curnamona Province and Delamerian Orogen. Orogen is a term used by geologists to describe a group of rocks with a common geological history, formed by geological mountain building events, which may now be eroded flat and buried. 

The pastoral and agricultural sectors are important contributors to communities and the local economy in the region. In support of these, the project is also investigating the groundwater potential of overlying basins, including the Murray-Darling Basin, with a focus on the upper Darling River floodplain. In the Darling region, potable water supply to some towns is threatened during dry periods, and shallow saline groundwater threatens the ecosystem health of the Darling River. The project seeks to identify new groundwater resources and assess the potential for groundwater storage in the region to support groundwater management and improve drought resilience in communities.

Proposed project activities may include:

  • new multi-scale geophysical data acquisition, stratigraphic and groundwater drilling
  • sampling, geochemical analysis and age dating of groundwater, rock and sediment
  • integration of these new data with historical and state data to deliver geological framework understanding and resource potential assessments.

The project will involve extensive stakeholder engagement, including state and local government agencies, landholders and Traditional Owner groups. Aerial data acquisition activities commenced in early 2021 with the  eastern corridor AusAEM survey, and further  aerial and on-ground acquisition activities are planned to continue to late 2023 as outlined below. Read more about the  Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project [PDF 328 KB].

Community information 

What we are doing

The project incorporates a number of study areas and proposed activities, including:


Close-up of young aboriginal people sitting around a table together outdoors in the sun in Australia.

Geoscience Knowledge Sharing

Important community information

All data produced by Geoscience Australia, including the data from this project, will be made publicly available. We will work with communities to return the data in a useful format, through the Geoscience Knowledge Sharing project.

Acquisition activities are not being undertaken on behalf of any exploration companies. All Geoscience Australia staff and contractors will comply with Geoscience Australia’s COVID-19 protocols, available upon request.


Current program

The current Exploring for the Future program (2020–24) focuses on 8 interrelated projects, united in growing our understanding of Australia's geology.

Three deep-dive projects in potentially resource-rich corridors identified in the east and west of Australia: Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian, Officer–Musgrave and Barkly–Isa–Georgetown projects. 

Three national projects with a focus on southern Australia: Australia’s Resources Framework, National Groundwater Systems and Australia’s Future Energy Resources projects.

Program support
Two program support projects: Enhanced Data Delivery and Geoscience Knowledge Sharing projects.