Exploration is a key component of Iluka's resource development activities. The company has been successfully exploring for mineral sands deposits, in Australia and internationally, for over 60 years. 

The exploration programme focuses on finding new deposits to grow its mining and processing business. Iluka currently has active operations in South Australia, Western Australia and in Sierra Leone. If you'd like to learn more about Iluka's operations please visit www.iluka.com/operations-resource-development

The exploration process

Finding mineral sands deposits involves research, license applications, access negotiations, a variety of different surveys (including heritage), drilling, sampling and analysis, resource estimation and financial evaluation. The entire exploration process can take many years to complete, but it is the foundation data on which Iluka’s feasibility studies are considered and initiated. Large economically viable deposits are scarce and in the mineral sands industry, less than one in a thousand targets identified becomes a mine.

Exploration is only undertaken when the relevant legal conditions of the state or country in which the work is to be conducted are fulfilled. Key stages of the exploration process are:

  • Field - review field inspections to identify the most likely districts for the formation of mineral sand deposits.
  • Sensing - remote sensing using aerial geophysical surveys, satellite imagery, Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and topographic images.
  • Drilling - drilling to collect samples from areas Iluka has negotiated access to via exploration licenses or agreements.
  • Laboratory - analysis of samples to assess the mineral content and quality and any other relevant characteristics.
  • Modelling - extensive computer modelling and evaluation of data to establish the physical and commercial viability of each deposit.


A variety of drilling methods are used during exploration depending on the terrain and surface to be drilled. Iluka often uses an aircore drill rig as it is small, mobile off road and designed to cause minimal impact. Typically drill rigs are mounted on a lightweight 4WD, small truck or tracked vehicle. The diameter of each drill hole is usually less than 100mm and the depth varies depending on the location of the mineral deposit. 

Exploration Locations

To see the mining licence areas around your location, visit: Earth Resources - Mining Licences Near Me


1800 305 993

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Who is Iluka?
What is exploration?
What is an exploration license?
How does Iluka secure land access for required drilling?
How are Native Title rights protected?
What happens if Iluka discovers something of potential Aboriginal cultural heritage value?
What are you drilling/looking for?
How long will the drilling take?
What will the drilling look like?
Who is doing the work, Iluka or contractors?
Will it be noisy and dusty?
Will you drill at night?
Will you impact traffic?
Will you leave behind a mess?
What happens if Iluka intersects groundwater during drilling activities?
What are you doing to prevent the spread of Covid-19?
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