Petroleum and mining companies typically stick to what they know best. But what happens when petroleum drilling uncovers some intriguing mineralised zones?

Canning Basin-focused oil producer Buru Energy (ASX:BRU) is looking to capitalise on the intersection of substantial discrete mineralised zones in a petroleum well that it had previously drilled.

While these zones are too deep (between 2,160m to 2,300m) to be economically mined, their interpreted hydrothermal origin provides a valuable insight into mineralisation in the basin and the location of much shallower targets.

As such Buru has now entered into a binding heads of agreement with Sipa Resources (ASX:SRI) for participation in two mineral exploration tenements in relation to joint exploration for hydrothermal lead/zinc deposits in the central Canning Basin.

The oil producer will fund 100 per cent of the first $250,000 of on-ground exploration expenditure to earn a 50 per cent stake in the Barbwire Terrace project.


Exploring for lead/zinc

Barbwire Terrace covers the southern margin of the Fitzroy Trough where historic drilling confirmed the potential for mineralisation of an identical style to the well-known Lennard Shelf deposits located along the northern margin of the trough.

Notably, Lennard Shelf deposits have historically produced high-purity concentrates that are highly sought after by smelters.

Where the two areas differ is that base metal mineralisation in the Lennard Shelf is hosted in outcropping Devonian-aged carbonate reefs but are obscured in the Barbwire Terrace.

However, petroleum exploration drilling in 1981 resulted in the identification of the giant Admiral Bay lead-zinc deposit in similar carbonate units about 250km west of the Barbwire Terrace project.

While Sipa will act as the operator of the Barbwire Terrace project, Buru will bring its sophisticated basin models and data sets developed over years of petroleum exploration and production from the Ungani oil field to the table.

This includes its modelling of the extensive network of seismic data which is directly applicable to the identification of the carbonate host units and base metals mineralisation of the type being targeted.

The combination of petroleum exploration models and techniques and Sipa’s mineral exploration approach is expected to enable mineralisation at Barbwire Terrace to be efficiently targeted at much shallower depths than that found at Admiral Bay.

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