Australia's insects provide clues to new gold deposits

Australian researchers say ants and termites could be key in finding new deposits of gold.

Scientists with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation — Australia's national science agency — have shown that the bugs can carry gold from underground into their mounds.

Dr. Aaron Stewart, the principal investigator, told Phys.org that, instead of spending a lot of money on expensive drilling, the insects' work could be used.

He said both small and large termite and ant mounds, which occur all over Australia, provide indicators for finding new gold deposits.

Research shows the insects bring up evidence from five metres underground.

New mineral resources are more difficult to find now as deposits near the surface have been exhausted.

By using the clues inside the mounds, mining companies could narrow down the area in which they have to drill, thereby reducing their exploration costs.

CSIRO is working with several companies to refine the method.

Stewart's research has been published in the journals GeoChemistry and PLOS ONE.

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