One of the world’s most advanced drill core reference libraries holding 130 years of mining samples has opened in South Australia. The $32.2 million South Australia Drill Core Reference Library in Adelaide holds 7.5 million m of drill core samples from across South Australia and has the capacity to display up to 2 km of cores for inspection on a series of automated conveyor belts in the main viewing area at any one time.

It also features a 3-D viewing room, which uses virtual reality technology to give geologists a worm’s eye view of geology and mineral deposits under the earth’s surface. South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy President Terry Burgess said the facility is one of the “unique core libraries in the world” and holds cores dating back more than 100 years.

“It’s a huge storage of information that’s waiting to be tapped — there’s a discovery waiting to happen in the core library somewhere and it’s up to the geologists to work out what that is,” Burgess said. “It could be that there’s something that’s been drilled in the past with a core in the library that’s going to end up with a mine going forward because of a different interpretation.”

Exploration companies in South Australia are required by legislation to provide the Department of State Development representative samples of any core and cuttings taken during tenure. Core and cuttings are stored in the Drill Core Reference Library. The library brings together samples previously stored at four separate drill core libraries spread across South Australia.

They are now kept in a massive storage warehouse featuring eight aisles that reach to the high ceiling. Hi-tech forklifts are used to fetch requested core samples to be brought to the main viewing area for inspection.