The Government of South Australia has awarded an Innovation Voucher from the Innovation Voucher Program, part of the Premier’s Research and Industry Fund, to Minotaur Exploration to find innovative uses for clay minerals “that could benefit local gas drilling programs and potentially create a new supply chain in South Australia.”
“If successful, these minerals will be used to manufacture a lightweight product called ceramic proppant, which is used in the gas drilling process in South Australia. Creating a new, local manufacturing operation could create new opportunities for our State and stimulate job creation in regional communities,” said Science and Information Economy Minister Gail Gago in a media release.
Proppants are spherical beads of silica sand or ceramic sand used by the oil, gas and geothermal sectors to enhance fluid flow in tight reservoirs. High-strength, light-weight ceramic sand manufactured by calcining of kaolin-bauxite admixtures are used where depths (pressures and temperatures) are too great for the use of natural silica sand.
Minotaur Exploration will use the $36,000 grant to advance its Poochera kaolin project at Streaky Bay on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and analyse the properties of two clay minerals, kaolin and halloysite, found in the State’s southwest.
“Many of the Cooper Basin drilling programs source lightweight ceramic proppant from China. Our market research indicates that the quality of Chinese ceramic material is often poor and not optimised for deep Cooper Basin targets. The opportunity to create a local manufacturing base in ceramic proppant will significantly reduce or eliminate the requirement for imported material, saving businesses time and money on shipping and transport. Importantly, it will produce a service that meets Australia’s speciality needs,” said Minotaur Exploration Executive Director Tony Belperio.
Minotaur has extensive minerals exploration tenements in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
According to the ASX Release, the company will match the government grant with equal funding.
“Building a culture of innovation and collaboration is vital to support our State’s strategic priorities and economic future. That’s why we are funding up to $1.2 million for Innovation Vouchers across several government programs to support projects that improve our State’s productivity and competitive advantage,” said Ms Gago.