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Discovery of the West Musgraves Ni-Cu-PGE District

Coffee with Samso Episode 113: A Samso Exploration Discovery Series

This is the first of the Samso Exploration Discovery Series that shares great discovery stories. These series share the thoughts that made the discoveries and the stories that followed.

In this first of the series, we have Jon Hronsky OAM, of Western Mining Services telling us about the discovery of the West Musgraves Ni-Cu-PGE district.

The West Musgrave Ni-Cu-PGE is more than a discovery as Jon Hronsky OAM puts it, this is a shift in understanding. A paradigm shift in the understanding of mineral exploration.

This is a great story of how thinking outside the box brought about a change in looking at discoveries. I loved the idea that it was during this significant time that culminated in a whole new way of looking a finding major deposits.

Western Mining was and is still the only company that was a world class explorer who dared to look for the Tier 1 deposits. Funding was not for mining the market but rather for the discoveries that was to be delivered by the geoscientists who were valued and cherished.

Another take away from this episode is that the release of geophysical data had helped in the discovery. The whole concept of understanding deep seated structures being a source of mineralisation was only possible with the availability of government released datasets.

Jon shared a lot of compelling thoughts on the subject and I got a lot more out of this conversation than I had first thought.

One of the most impactful comments was that this discovery was really about creating a paradigm shift in how we look at finding deposits. The shift in world affairs and the major development in Mabo, was the catalyst that had sifted how geoscientist were allowed to think far and wide and was the beginning of how we currently work in mineral exploration.

I have included time stamps for the video below:


00:00 Start

01:06 The story begins.

01:23 What the discovery meant for mineral exploration.

02:10 Setting the scene for the story.

03:32 A shift in thinking about Nickel Exploration.

04:19 The start of exploring for a Norilsk type deposit.

05:27 The discovery of Voisey Bay Nickel deposit.

06:00 The birth of the new concept of Exploration Exploration.

08:50 The changing of old to new exploration thinking.

11:21 Why the Musgrave was still available.

13:24 The moment West Musgrave became live.

15:05 Was this a Nickel or an Exploration moment.

16:29 What we know now was not in the old days...

17:27 The emergence of digital geophysical database.

19:30 Missing out on Tropicana.

20:36 Exploration activities at the West Musgraves.

21:54 The Rob Waugh Story.

23:17 West Musgrave discovery was the beginning of more discoveries.

25:03 The reasons why good meticulous mineral exploration is valuable.

26:29 Julimar is a product of this early thinking process.

27:55 Where is the next frontier in Australia?

28:24 The greater McArthur Basin, Northern Territory.

30:11 Discovery is all about applying data knowledge.

31:46 The South Australian potential.

33:09 Potential elephants still available.

33:38 Early work is important but commonly not funded.

33:58 The Encounter Story.

34:43 The long gestation period of exploration.

37:28 Conclusion


This is a good time to download the first Ebook (FREE) from Samso as it is all about VMS (Volcanogenic Massive Sulfides).

About Jon Hronsky

Jon Hronsky OAM (BAppSci, PhD)

Chairman of the Board of the Center for Exploration Targeting in Western Australia

Chairman of the Australian Geoscience Council (the peak body for geoscience organisations in Australia)

Adjunct Professor at both the University of WA and Macquarie University.

Jon Hronsky has more than thirty-five years of experience in the global mineral exploration industry, primarily focusing on project generation, technical innovation and exploration strategy development. He has worked across a diverse range of commodities and geographies, and has particular expertise in targeting nickel sulfide and gold deposits. His targeting work led to the discovery of the West Musgrave nickel sulfide province in Western Australia. His experience includes leadership roles in both major mining and junior mining companies, and he has consulted globally for the last 12 years. In January 2019 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the mining industry.

Jon is currently Chairman of the Board of the Center for Exploration Targeting in Western Australia, Chairman of the Australian Geoscience Council (the peak body for geoscience organisations in Australia) and an Adjunct Professor at both the University of WA and Macquarie University. He was the 2009 Society of Economic Geology Distinguished Lecturer. Jon joined WMS in 2007. Prior to that, he was Manager-Strategy & Generative Services for BHP Billiton Mineral Exploration and Global Geoscience Leader for WMC Resources Ltd.

About Western Mining Services

Western Mining Services (WMS) provides the best in geoscientific and risk management advice and services to mineral explorers globally.

WMS offers a range of essential services:

  • Advice on exploration strategy development both brownfield and greenfield

  • Review and critique of mineral exploration strategies, plans and programs

  • Assistance with the organisational structures

  • Metallogenic framework and mineral targeting studies that deliver viable greenfield targets

  • Brownfield and near-mine studies and target generation

  • Support for target validation at all scales

  • Technical due diligence and new opportunity analysis

  • Deal terms review and evaluation

  • Commercial risk analysis

WMS' proven track record:

  • Over the last 12 years, WMS helped more than sixty companies pursue exploration programs and opportunities globally.

  • The resulting rewards include the largest gold-copper skarn discovery in the Americas and major nickel and gold discoveries in Australia.

  • Over 600 students attended their popular Senior Exploration Management (SEM) Course which, by many accounts, ranks as “one of the best”.

  • WMS offers the SEM Course annually in Perth WA and Denver CO, and also offers the course in-house for clients who want a course tailored to their strategy and exploration program.

  • WMS developed an on-line Senior Exploration Management (SEM) course that tracks in-person SEM Course and that will make excellent, experienced training services more available to exploration groups worldwide.

WMS Team is experienced, focused and eager to help achieve the mineral exploration mission. Please contact us, and let’s discuss how we can help.


m/ +61 417992518



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