Aerial surveys are underway in the Pilbara (WA) in order to assess the potential and quality of Australia’s largest water source. The surveys will also help to quantify the potential of the Canning Basin and how it can potentially be used for the Pilbara’s growth.

WA Water Minister and Acting Regional Development  Minister, Mia Davies, said the airborne electromagnetic survey covered an area the size of Belgium to gather information about the quantity, quality and recharge of groundwater resources.

“This survey is the next stage in an investigation to quantify the potential of the Canning Basin, and how it can potentially be used for the Pilbara’s growth,” Ms Davies said.

“The results of this survey will build on drilling data from exploration already under way and provide a more complete picture of the buried geology and groundwater resources of the area.”

The survey is part of a four-year, $12.5 million Royalties for Regions-funded Pilbara Water discovery project that began in 2012.

It has already revealed a potential 100 gigalitres per year resource, 100 kilometres east of Port Hedland, to further secure the long-term water security and growth of the Pilbara towns and regional economy.

The Minister said scientific data revealed the Canning Basin resource was largely undeveloped and had the potential to support future expansion needs in the Pilbara.

“Good quality water access and changes to land tenure via the $40 million Royalties for Regions-funded Water for Food program increases the viability of agricultural enterprises in the Pilbara,” she said.

Fact file

  • Aerial electromagnetic technology sends an electromagnetic pulse into the ground and the return signal provides information about local groundwater systems.
  • The West Canning Basin is located 100km east of Port Hedland and about 300km south-west of Broome.  It is part of one of the biggest sedimentary basins in Australia – the Canning Basin.
  • The quality of the water in the exploration area is expected to be suitable for use as drinking water, and is also in high demand from industry, pastoralism and mining.

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