The people, science and technology behind discovery

Subscribe to the Magazine

Get new articles sent directly to
your mailbox.


Join the network

Twitter Updates Group Forum

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

February 9, 2016

Rio Tinto scales up its big data ambitions

Rio Tinto is opening its "vast troves" of exploration data to junior explorers in the hopes they will help sift for opportunities and supply ideas and labour...

February 8, 2016

Online portal improves access to geoscience data from Africa

The Botswana Geoscience Institute is launching a Geoscience Portal...

February 8, 2016

5 Best Minerals & Fossils To Buy With Your IRS Tax Refund

You just got your IRS tax refund and now you're presented with some cash to go out and buy one of a kind minerals and fossils from your local...

February 5, 2016

World's largest offshore windfarm to be built off Yorkshire coast

Dong Energy makes final investment decision on 1.2-gigawatt project that will power more than a million UK homes...

February 2, 2016

World's top 10 rookie gold mines

These high-grade mines will soon start competing with gold mining's industry leaders ...

January 25, 2016

Exxon Mobil Corp's defiant outlook predicts Canadian and Venezuelan oilsands output will 'quadruple' over next 24 years

In sharp contrast to the grim medium-term prognosis for the Canadian oilsands, Exxon Mobil Corp. is predicting sunnier times for bitumen in the decades ahead...

January 23, 2016

Magnetic Survey Keeps Cost Down

At a contaminated furniture factory site in North Carolina, a reconnaissance magnetic survey was conducted toward the end of a Phase 2 investigation ...

December 18, 2015

Geology Students Are The Happiest On College Campus Study Finds

Geology students are the happiest with their degrees according to the National Student Survey...

November 10, 2015

AGU's First Ask Me Anything: Water Science and Management

AGU's first ever Reddit Ask Me Anything, features Dr. Alberto Montanari, editor in chief of Water Resources Research on 12 November, from 12:00-2:00 P.M. EST, via Reddit's r/science portal ...

November 5, 2015

Massive graphite discovery could be on the cards for NQ

Graphite is a mineral of immense potential and value - its purer forms sought out for use in mobile phone technologies and the batteries that power...

November 1, 2015

Australia's junior sector turns to crowdfunding

Australian junior miners have decided to battle the capital drought afflicting the sector by turning to the Internet to raise funds...

October 28, 2015

Saudi Arabia's mining sector to triple by 2030

Mining contribution to GDP to reach SR260 billion by 2030 and create more than 100,000 jobs for citizens ...

October 26, 2015

Grant enables pioneering research of vast river systems in Great Plains and Asia

It's hard to exaggerate the importance of rivers to sustaining life for animals and people...

October 16, 2015

INFOGRAPHIC: "Gold off to races?"

This week, gold made a significant technical breakthrough ...

October 15, 2015

BHP raising $6.5bn fresh sign of mining turnaround

The mining industry's big players are themselves slowly beginning to change tack...

October 7, 2015

Could rock formations along Alabama highways offer clues to climate change?

Making predictions about climate variability often means looking to the past to find trends...

October 2, 2015

Petrobras' pre-salt drilling confirms high quality oil potential in Carcará

The drilling of the third well in the Carcará area (Block BM-S-8) in the Santos Basin's ultra-deep waters...

October 1, 2015

Eni enters Mexico with the development of three oil fields offshore

Eni won with a 100% share a production sharing contract to appraise, develop and exploit the oil fields...

Etruscan raises the bar at its Youga Mine in Burkina Faso

Project Geologist Geoff Day speaks to Etruscan's expanding exploration portfolio and the difference developing and sharing local knowledge has made.

As the first bars of gold are poured at Etruscan's Youga deposit in Burkina Faso, project geologist Geoff Day reflects on the company's progress in bringing Youga from an exploration project to a producing gold mine - and how they plan to replicate that success.

One thing is for sure. Etruscan's strength in developing and sharing exploration knowledge is an advantage that will continue to play heavily in their developing projects.

From a starting point in Niger 13 years ago, Etruscan is now one of the largest mineral rights holders in Western Africa. With a property portfolio that spans thousands of square kilometres, the new gold producer manages a growing assemblage of exploration programs in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Niger, and South Africa.

Panoramic view of the Etruscan's Youga Plant

Panoramic view of the Etruscan's Youga Plant

"Our focus, from the start, has been on developing exploration teams in the countries within which we operate," said Mr. Day. "Key to this is finding local personnel with experience and knowledge of the country, its administrative policies and local geology. There's a lot of value in having people on our team who might have walked over the prospective ground we are exploring."

Based in Etruscan's head office in Nova Scotia, Mr. Day manages the company's data hub, a growing corporate map database that stores and provides not only information but knowledge embedded in plan maps, two dimensional exploration maps, drilling plan maps and drill sections for advanced analysis.

Drilling activity from the feasibility drilling program for Youga

Drilling activity from the feasibility drilling program for Youga

While some explorers are content to move from project to project using the tools at hand, Etruscan has taken care to establish simple corporate guidelines, and a common exploration platform to support its project development. This has ensured it can easily capture and share the rich experience and knowledge being developed.

Etruscan adopted Geosoft as their corporate exploration management platform in 1995, and this is the standard that is maintained to date. "We've found it easy to use Geosoft as our corporate standard because we're able to bring in information from any of the main GIS and resource systems used in exploration," said Mr. Day.

"Geosoft is able to bring in MapInfo files, ArcGIS files, AutoCAD DXF files and a very wide range of remotely sensed data products. It can also bring in files from Surpac and other resource packages. It's very flexible in that respect."

Inherently when you are collecting historical data and obtaining data products from local government agencies you will encounter many different formats. Having software that can import the disparate data formats used in the industry has definitely aided in rapid compilation of information and target generation, according to Mr. Day.

As important, it has also made data sharing between the field and managers faster, easier and more productive.

"It's taken for granted that when someone makes a map at the project site and sends it to one of the local managers or Canada, they're going be able to open it at the other end and see exactly what the geologist sees in the field," said Mr. Day. "They quickly understand what is being presented, as opposed to struggling to recreate a map or section using a different platform."

Youga deposit drill plan, with a soil geochemistry target underlay, created in Geosoft Target

Youga deposit drill plan, with a soil geochemistry target underlay, created in Geosoft Target.

Etruscan has been exploring for gold and diamonds in Africa for more than 13 years. Now the junior has just made the significant leap from explorer to producer first as a JV partner at the Samira gold mine in Niger and now by opening its Youga gold mine in Burkina Faso in March 2008.

Etruscan used Geosoft Target as the principle exploration platform at its Youga gold mine both during the feasibility stage and currently while developing additional resources outside the mine site, to monitor the progress of drilling programs. Now Youga is an 88,000 ounce-per-year producer with an expected mine life of six and a half years.

Mr. Day said Target's most useful features include being able to make clean and informative colour contour images from 2-D geochemical and geophysical data and, by using the map and section modules, visualize deposits during drilling campaigns.

Those features will become increasingly useful as the company continues to expand on African soil. Having just poured its first gold at Youga, Etruscan is working towards mining its Agbaou gold deposit in Côte d'Ivoire, where resources add up to more than one million ounces of gold. A feasibility study is currently underway in preparation for production in 2010.

Gold bars produced at Etruscan's Youga Mine in March, 2008

Gold bars produced at Etruscan's Youga Mine in March, 2008

The company, with JV partner Resolute Mining Limited, is also starting a deep drilling program at the Finkolo gold project in Mali, where resources have increased by 53% to close to 750,000 ounces. And at the Blue Gum diamond project in South Africa, a potential alluvial diamond producer, a prefeasibility study is currently underway.

As Etruscan continues to grow, with the aim of starting a second gold mine in Côte d'Ivoire in 2010, it needs the capability to adapt to the company's larger and increasingly complex datasets.

"As the company builds it's portfolio of exploration projects and the scope of our corporate database increases, we will be migrating towards the integration of ArcGIS," says Mr. Day. "With Target for ArcGIS, we can continue to use Geosoft for drilling data management, 2D interpolation and color contour image visualization in this integrated environment."