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Earth Explorer is an online source of news, expertise and applied knowledge for resource explorers and earth scientists. Sponsored by Geosoft.

News & Views

News Archive

December 7, 2016

Geosoft introduces IP and resistivity inversion in VOXI Earth Modelling

Geosoft has added induced polarization and resistivity data inversion to its VOXI Earth Modelling 3D inversion software service. Geoscientists are now able to create detailed 3D models of conductivity and chargeability from IP and resistivity survey data with VOXI. The resulting models can assist in interpreting and targeting regions for mineral and environmental applications...

December 5, 2016

Mexico's Deepwater Round Exceeds Expectations

Some of the world's biggest oil companies showed up Dec. 5 and agreed to invest on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico, proving that deepwater exploration still has a pulse despite challenging market conditions...

November 30, 2016

Magnetic inversion results for Ngamiland available for download

A regional-scale geophysical inversion of magnetic field data in the Ngamiland region of northwestern Botswana is now available for download from the Botswana Geoscience Portal, a partnership initiative of the Botswana Geoscience Institute, industry sponsors and Geosoft...

November 30, 2016

LIGO Resumes Search for Gravitational Waves

After a series of upgrades, the twin detectors of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, have turned back on and resumed their search for ripples in the fabric of space and time known as gravitational waves. LIGO transitioned from their engineering test runs to full science observations at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 30...

November 9, 2016

International Volcano Scientists Unite

For the first time, the United States will host the international Volcano Observatory Best Practices workshop, previously held only in Italy. The workshop will take place this month in Vancouver, Washington. It is designed specifically for volcano observatories around the world and their staff to exchange ideas and best practices with each other...

October 4, 2016

USGS Assesses Mineral Potential for Sagebrush Habitats in Six Western States

USGS has completed a comprehensive assessment and inventory of potential mineral resources covering approximately 10 million acres of Federal and adjacent lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming...

October 3, 2016

Uganda Targets Up to U.S.$100 Million for Mineral Exploration

Uganda is well endowed with mineral resources and, like many naturally-gifted African countries, is becoming keen on ensuring that these resources play a transformative role in its long-term structural transformation dream - the Vision 2040...

September 9, 2016

Small-Scale Fishers Get A Big Boost With First-Of-Its Kind Impact Investment Fund

Conservation organization Rare announces the Meloy Fund for Small-Scale Fisheries at Our Ocean Conference. The Global Environment Facility, one of the largest funders of conservation worldwide, will be investing $6 million into the fund...

September 1, 2016

Scientists take to the skies to track West African pollution

Scientists operating research aircraft over West Africa have detected organic materials in the atmosphere over a number of urban areas, contributing to concerns of the rise in pollution across the region...

August 17, 2016

New IGS Xplore prospectivity maps for Botswana

International Geoscience Services have released a series of base metal prospectivity maps for the Ngamiland District of northwestern Botswana using free geodata available on the recently-launched Botswana Geoscience Portal, hosted by Geosoft. The maps identify favorable areas for copper, zinc and lead mineralization using geological, geochemical and geophysical datasets downloaded directly from the portal.

August 11, 2016

NexGen Makes New High Grade Discovery

NexGen Energy reported the discovery of a new high grade zone of mineralization 4.7 km northeast of the Arrow Deposit as part of an on-going summer drilling program on its 100% owned, Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

August 10, 2016

Rampion UXO Disposal to Take Place This Week

E.ON has confirmed that the two unexploded devices, detected along the Rampion offshore cable route will be safely disposed this week following the consultation with the Marine Management Organisation...

August 9, 2016

Diamonds In The Rough: E&Ps Find New Reserves In Mature Basins

The oil industry’s history demonstrates clearly that new plays and prospects have long been found in mature basins that were thought to be well on the way to being squeezed dry. Through the acquisition of new data, developing new concepts and coming up with fresh interpretations, long-producing basins around the world from the North Sea to Malaysia have continued to reveal new riches...

August 8, 2016

Northern Shield Identifies High Quality VTEM Targets at Séquoi

Northern Shield Resources announced the results of the interpretation and modelling of the VTEM survey from the Séquoi Property in the Labrador Trough of Quebec . Séquoi is owned 100% by Northern Shield and is being explored for Noril'sk style Ni-Cu-PGE massive sulphides. After geophysical modelling and interpretation of the VTEM data from Séquoi, six VTEM anomalies of significant interest have been identified...

August 3, 2016

Rio Tinto tailors big data drive to copper

Rio Tinto will put the weight of an exploration big data push and its newly-formed Growth and Innovation group behind its desire to identify a "tier 1" copper asset. Speaking at the annual Diggers & Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Growth and Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said Australia was "overdue for a tier 1" mineral discovery of any type...

August 1, 2016

Tetra Tech Awarded $200 Million Navy CLEAN Contract

Tetra Tech announced that it has been awarded a $200 million, single-award contract by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic. Through the Comprehensive Long-term Environmental Action Navy (CLEAN) contract, Tetra Tech will provide environmental engineering support services to installations within the NAVFAC Atlantic Area of Responsibility...

May 3, 2016

NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS), MODUM Partners announce "Young Scientist Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons"

This international project cooperates closely with CHEMSEA (Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons) Project for and sharing and knowledge transfer...

April 12, 2016

Monday mad rush for gold stocks

Renewed optimism about the outlook for gold saw investors pile back into gold stocks, pushing many stock to 52-week highs in heavy volumes...

April 11, 2016

Medgold Resources: Continues to Expand the Boticas Gold Project, Portugal; Proposes $200,000 Private Placement

Medgold Resources is pleased to announce new assay results from contiguous rock-chip sampling from the Limarinho South zone at its Boticas gold project in Portugal, which include a highlight of 6.0m @ 5.7 g/t Au...

April 8, 2016

De-carbonizing our energy sector

Nuclear energy currently provides around 11 percent of the world's electricity. China, the European Union, the United States, India, Russia, South Korea, and other nations’ have major existing fleets...

April 1, 2016

Follow-Up Drilling Results Indicate Wide Gold Zones at Hendricks Gold Discovery

Gascoyne Resources Limited announced that it has received the final assay results from the 10,000 metre aircore exploration drilling programme...

March 26, 2016

The Oil Market Is Finally Hitting Its Breaking Point

After a significant reduction in investments over the past two years, oil companies can no longer overcome the production declines from legacy wells...

March 15, 2016

N-Sea Expands into the French Offshore Wind Industry

Subsea IMR provider, N-Sea, has signed a letter of intent with CERES Recherches & Expertise Sous-Marine and TechSub Industrie Environement, to provide subsea survey, installation and remediation services to the French offshore wind industry...

March 9, 2016

PDAC 2016 Convention Exceeds 22,000 Attendees

Optimism and opportunity abounded at the PDAC 2016 Convention of The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in spite of recent industry challenges...

March 3, 2016

6 Alpha Launches EOD Contracting Division

6 Alpha Associates, a specialist risk consultancy practice, with expertise in the assessment and management of unexploded ordnance, has launched a dedicated explosive ordnance disposal division...

Knowledge management closes the data-personnel gap

Virginia Heffernan

Like an earthquake rumbling along a fault line, there is a rift spreading under exploration departments throughout the mining industry. Within a few years, the critical gap between the demand for more exploration data, and the supply of expertise to process it, may widen past the point of no return.

On one side of the rift is the data deluge. As technology becomes more sophisticated, more data is being created. There are growing amounts of data in various formats stored on CDs, hard disks and scribbled in notebooks. Though companies have spent millions to collect and archive their data, much of this information is unavailable to geoscientists because companies don’t have a standard, reliable and easy ways to find and share their data.

On the other side of the fault line is an acute and growing labour shortage. The Canadian mining industry alone will need up to 81,000 new people to meet its current and future needs, according to Prospecting the Future, a recent report on the state of human resources in the mining industry published by MITAC.

Exploration geoscientists, who left the industry in droves during that last industry downturn the late 1990s, are an especially precious resource. Most of those remaining in the business, the traditional gatekeepers of exploration knowledge, are heading for retirement within the next decade or two. And there aren’t nearly enough university graduates to replace them.

The immediate result is that fewer and fewer geoscientists are using more and more data, creating serious bottlenecks within exploration departments. Geoscientists say they spend 50-70% of their time finding, preparing and analyzing data. They have become data specialists instead of doing the job they were hired for: finding orebodies.

The end result is that discovery rates, instead of benefiting from increasing amounts of valuable data, will remain static or even drop. Currently, only one in thousands of grassroots projects becomes a mine. This rate is unsustainable if the industry hopes to feed the growing appetite for metals in countries like China and India.

But what if exploration managers could - despite the shortage of geoscientists - improve their discovery rate, or, at the very least, double or triple the number of projects they process on an annual basis?

It can be done, but only if companies adopt a knowledge management strategy that brings together disparate data, provides a natural workflow for geoscientists and data administrators, and integrates different applications into a seamless method for capturing, processing and analyzing data. This must be done within a framework that clearly integrates the needs of both the company and the geoscientists.

Only then will geoscientists be freed up to look for orebodies instead of wrestling with data.

“By improving the data experience, and making it easer to convert data to knowledge, geoscientists can recapture a good percentage of the time lost to data overhead and get back to their jobs in exploration,” says Tim Dobush, CEO for Geosoft. “Given the human resource bottleneck, getting more productivity from this valuable resource is important.”

Traditionally, there have been three main steps geoscientists must follow before they can convert data into knowledge: data discovery and preparation (reformatting, georeferencing and subsetting), knowledge creation through processing and analysis, and data integration and sharing for insight development that leads to decision-making.

Progressing through these steps is becoming an increasingly time-consuming process partly because there is more data to consume, but mainly because the data resides in disparate locations and is disconnected from data consumers.

Furthermore, there is no strategy to support a shared data experience, where all the data, workflows, applications and systems work together to support effective use of these resources by geoscientists for knowledge development.

A well-defined knowledge management strategy can accelerate these steps, shaving hours, even days off the time geoscientists spend retrieving data.

From a company perspective, this means devising, championing and communicating a knowledge management strategy, investing in IT infrastructure and software as well as HR resources, incentives and training.

From an IT perspective, that may mean introducing a centralized data management system where data is managed and available to all members of the exploration team.

From an HR perspective, it means providing the right incentives and support system (for example, hiring data administrators) to motivate and support geoscientists to contribute to the central system and providing standardized procedures that make uploading and retrieving data to and from the sever a natural part of a geoscientist’s workflow.

Technology enablers also play a role. Middleware that supports several different applications provides data to individual preferences. A standard applications platform takes this integrated approach a step further, making it easier for data users to communicate with each other.

Introducing this type of knowledge management strategy improves efficiency and, and as result, frees up geologists to convert the data into the knowledge needed to pinpoint orebodies or process projects faster.

Another important, though often overlooked, benefit is the ability to retain and share knowledge, a vital competitive advantage in an era when geoscientists are retiring and becoming increasingly difficult to replace.

Companies must incorporate knowledge retention into their IT and HR strategies or risk losing the data, knowledge and experience they need for future exploration. Sharing that knowledge saves time, reduces communication costs and allows mining companies to take on more projects and, ultimately, be more productive and potentially more profitable.

Geoscientists interact with data – numbers and text – to turn it into information and give it meaning. In this way, explicit knowledge that can be articulated and shared easily among individuals in a formal context evolves into tacit knowledge that is personal and shaped from an individual’s experiences and perspectives.

A successful strategy to improve retention and sharing considers both types of knowledge from an IT and HR perspective. To retain explicit knowledge, IT’s role is to provide a reliable, user-friendly system of finding and processing data and information. HR’s role is to standardize procedures and workflows, or best practices, to capture, manage and disseminate that knowledge and then educate staff about these procedures.

In this case, the emphasis is on the company and the significant investment it has made in acquiring explicit knowledge such as data from geochemical and geophysical surveys. From an efficiency and cost efficiency standpoint, a server-based approach is preferable.

To retain tacit knowledge, the IT department must support people within the company to communicate with each other and share information. HR’s role is to motivate those same people to share by setting up multidisciplinary or protégé-mentor teams and/or providing one-on-one training.

In this case, the emphasis is on the individual and how they interact with others, either in one-to-one conversations or team environments. When devising strategy, both IT and HR professionals must recognize that tacit knowledge – while extremely valuable – is time-consuming and expensive to maintain and difficult to systemize.

In both cases, technology enablers that are reliable and simple to use play a crucial role in retaining and sharing knowledge by providing data management repositories and application tools and making it easier for staff to communicate and share their work.

By embracing an effective knowledge management strategy, companies can not only close the widening rift between the volumes of data and the supply of geoscientists needed to process it, but also retain and share knowledge that could lead to the next big discovery.