There's gold in them anthills

ANT and termite mounds have gone from pesky to goldmines.

The CSIRO says the insects are stockpiling gold in their mounds, becoming Australia's smallest and most numerous mining prospectors.

They carry the gold from underground up into their mounds and also accumulate metals in their bodies.

The CSIRO's Aaron Stewart said the mounds could hold the clue to uncovering new gold deposits.

Dr Stewart said although most minerals are buried by a layer of earth, signs of the resource are often close to the surface.

''In some places we have shown that termites and ants can bridge the gap by bringing up evidence from five metres down,'' he said.

He said exploration drilling costs thousands of dollars a hole and ants and termites could save miners fortunes.

Several exploration companies are working with CSIRO to develop and refine the method.