Perth Core

Reporter: Belinda Wilkinson

It's a world class library of a different kind. No books, but hundreds of millions of year old rocks from all over WA, stored right here in the middle of Perth's eastern suburbs of Carlisle.

It's Perth's Core Library - four hundred kilometres of ancient tubes of earth that's enough core samples to run a pipe from Perth to Geraldton.

It was built by the state government to encourage mining and exploration companies from all over the world to invest in WA's rich mineral treasures.

Palaeontologist Kath Grey's been researching fossils for more than forty years. "Some of these petroleum core samples are taken from up to five kilometres below the sea bed and it's hoped one of them could hold the secret to Australia's next big oil and gas discovery."

"Everyone wants a new discovery, in years decades gone by there'd be two or three a year, and now we're lucky to get one or two every three or four years." The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, CEO, Simon Bennison says facilities like this can dramatically cut the costs of exploration which can run into tens of millions of dollars. "There's no question that they're getting harder to find, but we've now got to go out into the more expensive, remote areas if you like, the deeper areas to make those discoveries."

"They are regions that very little drill data is available on so that becomes an important component of this facility." And because the State Government made it compulsory for companies to hand in their petroleum samples after two and a half years, and now Perth's library is almost full. "If they just got rid of this stuff 20 years ago and said like, it's not good, then they would've had to go and re-do all the costs of drilling again." Core Librarian Paul Stephenson says they desperately need more space.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion says the Government is spending millions to make the library even bigger, by fifty percent. "This facility is one of the most important things we have for geologists in WA and also for petroleum and mining companies to do some pre analysis before they do an expensive drill hole." They might just look like tubes of dirt and rock, but it's these samples drilled from WA's earth, that could hold the key to our economic future.

To learn more about Perth's Core Library