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NZ Missing Out On Overseas Investment - Geologist


New Zealand is missing out on overseas investment by the minerals industry because of a lack of specialist geological information, according to a minerals geologist.

Tony Christie, of the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS), said that to be competitive with other countries also trying to attract investment, New Zealand needed publicly available aeromagnetic and geochemical information on a regional basis.

Gold, silver, iron, clay and limestone are currently mined in New Zealand for export, and there was potential to substantially increase exports of these and other high value minerals provided there was adequate exploration to pinpoint the resources, Dr Christie said.

New Zealand had all the geological attributes for the occurrence of major mineral deposits, particularly gold and platinum.

“However, in spite of this potential, there has recently been a decline in mineral exploration which, if not reversed, will be reflected for many years by reduced export earnings and lost potential.”

Dr Christie, who recently attended one of the world’s biggest mining conferences in Canada, said New Zealand did not stack up against the competition for attracting exploration investment.

When overseas mining companies were considering exploring a country, high among the factors considered was the level of information available. In particular, this meant modern high quality aeromagnetic and geochemical survey data.

New Zealand’s national aeromagnetic surveys dated back to the 1960s and early 1970s, and were at a scale that provided only limited information. Geochemical surveys were similarly dated and covered only a small fraction of New Zealand.

“It’s not feasible for private companies to do these types of information-gathering surveys over large areas. They invariably rely on public information to identify areas that warrant more investigation, and this type of information is available in many other countries.”

Dr Christie said that countries where the State had funded new surveys invariably found the investment was worthwhile.

In the Australian state of Victoria, a State-funded information gathering project yielded $A8 of private sector investment for each public dollar spent.

A bonus was that the surveys had many applications in addition to mineral exploration. For example, geochemical surveys provide valuable information about the environment. The surveys also help promote more informed decisions about land use.


Tony Christie
Minerals Geologist
Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS)

 Aeromagnetic survey: A survey of the earth’s magnetic field collected by instruments towed behind an aircraft over flat and rolling terrain, or suspended under a helicopter in hilly, broken country. The resultant measurements of magnetic properties of rocks are useful to numerous branches of science and particularly the minerals industry.

 Geochemical survey: Measures the concentration of particular elements in streams and stream beds. Results indicate the likelihood of finding certain minerals upstream and are useful in mineral exploration and environmental studies.

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