An unusually large number of gold and lead-zinc-copper-silver deposits formed on Earth between about 2.8 and 2.6 billion years ago. In 2009, the mining of these deposits contributed about $5.5 billion to Australia's export earnings and provided the financial backbone for many regional communities. However, the future of this valuable industry is threatened by a prolonged decline in production levels and new discoveries. This multi-disciplinary project will re-evaluate the evolution of Earth's crust during this critical episode and use this understanding to establish a new set of criteria for identifying hidden mineral deposits. The results will benefit the Australian mining industry, regional communities and be of international interest.