Completed 2024 Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian

Broken Hill NSW, Australia

The Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project delivered 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.

By gathering, analysing and providing precompetitive geoscience data and information, we are building a national picture of Australia’s geology and resource potential to support our transition to net zero and ensure strong economy and sustainable resources and agriculture sectors for the benefit of all Australians.

The Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project was designed to help ensure mineral discovery and water resource sustainability into the future, and support the viability of the mining, agricultural and pastoral communities in southeastern Australia.

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 Curnamona Province* is an ancient (Paleo-Mesoproterozoic) geological region that underlies the New South Wales-South Australian border region with rich mineral wealth potential similar to the Gawler Craton (South Australia) and Mount Isa Block (Queensland). The Curnamona Province hosts the world-class Broken Hill lead-zinc-silver-gold mine that has operated continuously since 1885, underpinning much of the local economy, and numerous smaller ore deposits, including gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and critical minerals like cobalt.   

The Delamerian Orogen** wraps around the eastern Curnamona Province in New South Wales and South Australia and extends through Victoria into Tasmania. This younger (Neoproterozoic to early Paleozoic) continental collision zone lies mostly under cover of younger Australian sedimentary basins. The Delamerian Orogen hosts high quality mineral deposits, including gold, copper, lead and zinc. This project is assessing the mineral potential undercover in the Curnamona Province and Delamerian Orogen.  

The pastoral and agricultural sectors are important contributors to communities and the local economy in the region. In support of these sectors, the project also investigated the groundwater potential of overlying basins, including the Murray–Darling Basin, with a focus on the upper Darling-Baaka 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-Baaka River.  The Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project sought 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.

Project activities included:

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

The Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian project involved extensive stakeholder engagement, including state and local government agencies, landholders and Traditional Owner groups. Data acquisition activities commenced in early 2021 with the eastern corridor AusAEM survey followed by further aerial and on-ground acquisition activities concluded in 2023 as outlined below. 

* 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.

** 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.
 

What we did 

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

Outputs 

Geoscience Australia staff engaging with communities

Important community information

Geoscience Australia is committed to land, air and marine access best practice and to protecting cultural heritage and the environment. 

We thank the people and communities who collaborate with us to ensure the success of the Exploring for the Future program. 

Geoscience Australia activities are not undertaken on behalf of any exploration company; we work for the benefit of all Australians.

All data produced by Geoscience Australia, including the data from this project, is publicly available after quality assurance has been performed. 

For more information or general enquiries, please email clientservices@ga.gov.au

Groundwater

Program 2020-24

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

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

National
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.