Richard Lilly

Dr Richard Lilly

University Research Fellow

School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Richard Lilly is currently the Mount Isa Mines embedded research fellow at the University of Adelaide. The role involves coordinating a range of minerals industry related research projects, supervision and teaching. In 2016 Richard co-founded the National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS), a Minerals Council of Australia-funded 3-week summer school, which aims to assist and train the next generation of mineral exploration geoscientists. Richard completed his PhD on the northern Oman ophiolite at Cardiff University (UK) and worked with Rio Tinto and Chevron before joining Mount Isa Mines (formally Xstrata Copper) exploration in 2007 based in Mount Isa, North West Queensland. In his role as Senior Exploration Geologist he instigated and co-supervised a range of applied research projects with the aim of improving exploration targeting, before returning to an industry funded academic role in 2015.

Overview: Dr. Richard Lilly is currently the Mount Isa Mines Embedded Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. His research interests aim to understand how ore deposits are formed and to assist in the geochemical exploration for new resources. Richard has 8 years of experience working as a Senior Exploration Geologist (Mount Isa Mines) and brings an industry perspective to his applied research projects and teaching of undergraduate economic geology courses. Richard also serves as an industry-academic boundary spanner; assisting the engagement between the university sector and the minerals industry.

Dr. Richard Lilly in the field with the 2017 NExUS group.
Dr. Richard Lilly teaching mineral identification in the field with the 2017 NExUS group. 

The Embedded Research Fellow project is an industry (Mount Isa Mines) funded academic position within the Department of Earth Science (School of Physical Sciences) at the University of Adelaide. The role involves coordinating and supervising a range of applied economic geology research projects at Universities across Australia and Europe and to establish strong industry-academic links. Additionally, Dr. Richard Lilly teaches economic geology courses to undergraduates and co-ordinates the National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS). Research is completed through numerous projects including Honours, Masters and PhD level studies which are coordinated to directly address specific geological questions at Mount Isa Mines operations in NW Queensland. The five core research themes are:

  1. Exploration Through Cover; aims to establish innovative geochemical exploration techniques including the use of a soil gas technique and biogeochemistry to generate new drill targets under cover.
  2. Deposit Scale Characterisation; detailed geological, geochemical and geophysical modelling and structural studies of current ore bodies (Mount Isa Cu and Ernest Henry IOCG) and advanced exploration targets to maximise near-mine and brown-fields exploration targeting.
  3. District Scale Ore Systems; studies of temporal and spatial variations of ore systems and the implications for district and regional prospectivity for improved exploration targeting and ground evaluation.
  4. Production Challenges; identification of key geological and metallurgical questions to overcome technical challenges across different MIM business units.
  5. Emerging Projects; identification and assessment of applicability of advanced and emerging technologies and to maintain flexibility of research studies to meet changing business needs and maximise knowledge transfer for MIM staff.

National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS): In 2016 Dr. Richard Lilly co-founded the National Exploration Undercover School and is integral to the organising and running of the course as lead coordinator. The 3 week summer school aims to provide exploration and geoscience training for some of Australia’s top graduates and undergraduates and to assist them with their careers. The NExUS summer school has received media interest and considerable positive feedback from the minerals industry as an innovative and forward thinking initiative.


Community engagement: Dr. Richard Lilly regularly gives geoscience and exploration focused talks in local schools and at outreach events. He is the University of Adelaide geology representative for the South Australian Society of Economic Geologists (SA SEG), Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), Adelaide University Geology Society (AUGS) and am a member of the national AIG mentoring program.

Richard is a passionate geologist and through his proactive teaching and mentoring roles at the University of Adelaide, is helping to teach and inspire the next generation of geoscientists and exploration geologists.

NExUS 2017 group on fieldwork in the Adelaide Hills
The 2017 NExUS group on fieldwork in the Adelaide Hills (December 2017)


  • Current (3 year) project is fully funded by Mount Isa Mines.
  • Awarded $100k research funding by Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Geological Survey of Queensland) for successful 'Geochemistry Through Cover' project trialling different surface regolith geochemical methods.
  • Currently member of ARC Linkage (Source to Spectrum) with collaborators from University of South Australia and Monash University (From Jan 2017)
  • Teach 2nd year undergraduate course 'Economic and Mine Geology' course.
  • Teach practical component of 3rd year undergraduate 'Mineral and Energy Resources' course.
  • Have given presentations and lectures on the full range of exploration geology, geochemistry, ore deposits and mining- and minerals industry-related topics.
  • Position: University Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83130686
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 4380
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Mawson Laboratories, floor B
  • Room: B 04
  • Org Unit: Earth Sciences

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