Exploration and Resource Definition of Offshore Titano-Magnetite Iron Sands, on the West Coast of New Zealand

Brown, Matthew Earle Dunlop (Trans Tasman Resources Limited)


Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) was established in September 2007 in New Zealand to explore, assess and develop the off shore titano-magnetite iron sand deposits, located off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
TTR holds exploration permit(s) and a prospecting license granting exclusive mineral rights over 9633 km2 of seabed, within New Zealand's territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters. Subsequent to a large airborne magnetic survey, TTR has undertaken a series of shallow and deep drilling campaigns which have defined an initial JORC1 mineral resource. This JORC compliant mineral resource was defined by Golders Associates on the basis of drilling campaigns that were performed using in house designed and operated drilling units, the first of its kind in the world.
TTR is developing innovative solutions for all aspects of its exploration and feasibility studies. In relation to exploration, TTR are competing in an environment which has offshore contractors and equipment focused on the petroleum industry, therefore it has been essential that TTR remain innovative to ensure cost effectiveness, fit for purpose and industry standards (JORC) are paramount. Exploration to date has enabled TTR to estimate an offshore titano-magnetite iron sand resource, using low cost marine reverse circulatory drilling units developed specifically for this purpose (patent pending) in conjunction with other exploration techniques.
The purpose of this paper will be to discuss some of the main challenges in the exploration and the subsequent engineering studies used in the feasibility studies for the development one of the world's first large off shore mineral resource of iron ore. The key strategic advantage of the envisaged off shore wet mining operation would be its much lower capital cost compared to land based operations, as no deep sea port or heavy gauge rail is required.