Otago data released

Data from a $4 million aerial geophysical survey of Otago - to which the Otago Regional Council (ORC) contributed $1 million - has been released publicly.

The data collation in 2007 was undertaken by Glass Earth Gold, which has spent more than $30 million exploring for gold around the country during the past five years, but under intellectual property rights the data is only now available in the public realm, held by government mining permit agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.

The ORC has had the Otago data for more than two years, but it was embargoed and could not be released.

Glass Earth chief executive Simon Henderson said yesterday he briefed the ORC when the data was initially released to the council, and understood since then the ORC had set up a team, including senior University of Otago staff, GNS scientists and other specialists, to analyse the results.

In mid-2009, ORC chief executive Graeme Martin said the data collation deal was entered into as it would improve the ORC's groundwater knowledge, the ability to identify potential dam sites and for the planning of infrastructure projects, such as roading and land stability.

Mr Martin said yesterday the data had prompted some test drilling for subterranean groundwater around Central Otago valleys.

The ORC's $1 million investment meant small businesses or groups could now access the information, which could help with their own infrastructure work or contracts and would be "useful over a long period of time", he said.

In total, Glass Earth spent about $6 million on two large airborne surveys - one in the central volcanic region of the North Island in 2005 and the Otago survey in 2007.

Glass Earth made $357,000 from its boutique gold production in Central Otago last financial year and hopes to boost production substantially. Exploration within a total permitted 10,800sq km continues, mainly in Otago and central Hauraki.

Glass Earth last month clinched the first half of a $C5 million ($NZ 5.82 million) capital-raising programme, to further fund exploration this coming year.

- simon.hartley@odt.co.nz


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