Not the most traditional prospectors, termites and ants are proving they may be worth their weight in gold in the search for this precious metal.
Efforts to discover what treasures are hidden beneath Australia’s ancient landscape are often frustrated by an eroded surface layer. But ants and termites use below ground material to build their nests. Analysing a site in Western Australia has revealed concentrations of gold in termite mounds that may signal deposits below.
Dr. Aaron Stewart of CSIRO which conducted the research said, “The insects bring up small particles that contain gold from the deposit’s fingerprint, or halo, and effectively stockpile it in their mounds.”
Termites have also shown they excrete excess metals from their bodies, leaving deposits which are invaluable in providing the gold trace.
Mineral resource exports are worth over A$86 billion to the Australian economy. Drilling test sites is expensive and often inaccurate, but this new exploration method is cost effective and environmentally friendly. Ant and termite mounds could soon prove to be more useful than simple majestic features in this unearthly landscape.