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March 12, 2013
On Tuesday March 26, 2013 the TGDG will host a selection of speakers for a mini-symposium at Hart House on ‘Laterites or Laterwrongs: Making the Pieces Fit’. Speakers include Ravi Anand (CSIRO), Peter Winterbourne (Vale), and Ron Schonewille (Xstrata)...
March 11, 2013
Hailing from industry, government and academia, high profile Australian and internationally-based researchers will join the CET fortnightly to share their experience on a wide variety of geoscience topics.These seminars are FREE and all interested Geologists are welcome to attend...
February 25, 2013Is regulation robbing exploration properties of their worth?
You can’t get chickens if you don’t allow the eggs to develop. Joe Hinzer, president of geological consulting firm Watts, Griffiths and McOuat (WGM), uses this analogy to illustrate how many early-stage exploration projects are being stifled by current mineral valuation regulations before they have a shot at becoming mines...
February 04, 2013
It has been a busy 24 hours as the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) kicked off its Mineral Exploration Roundup 2013...
January 29, 2013Where do I meet the geologists of Africa?
Africa is more than 20 per cent of the world’s land area, is home to 15 per cent of human population but still earns its label as the Dark Continent through generating only 2 per cent of the world’s electricity. Where can you find the geologists exploring this sleeping giant with its inevitable future in the resources sector?
January 28, 2013
As exploration programs focus on remote and concealed targets, the ability to recognize large ore-forming systems – from the most distal margins to high-grade cores – becomes increasingly important. Efforts are therefore under way to generate sophisticated “footprint” or “signature” models of high-value deposits.
December 2, 2012
The December 4th Greenland Day, taking place in Perth, will feature industry and geoscience experts from across the globe, discussing Greenland’s burgeoning exploration opportunities and recent research advances...
November 1, 2012
Some of the sector's leading minds will be looking into their crystal balls on November 8th, trying to summon a picture of what the future might hold for exploration and mining in Canada...
September 11, 2012
Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, said Tuesday that it had started oil production at the Baleia Azul presalt field in the offshore Campos Basin...
September 11, 2012
Barrick Gold CEO Jamie Sokalsky speaks with Carl Quintanilla on CNBC about Barrick's strategy to drive shareholder value...
September 10, 2012
The tie between energy supply, population, and the economy goes back to the hunter-gatherer period...
July 12, 2012
A massive two thirds of Western Australia remains unexplored for minerals and geologists say the territory presents huge potential...
July 12, 2012
Shale and other unconventional resources are being called the biggest game changer in a generation - and as land and other costs escalate, the industry continues to apply lessons gleaned from the early successes...
July 11, 2012
In this exclusive interview with Professor David Thiel, Director at the Centre for Wireless Monitoring and Applications at Griffith University, he discusses how electromagnetic geophysics can help those who are conducting a feasibility study and opens up on the real cost benefits of this technology...
July 11, 2012
Improved security has started to open up new areas for mineral exploration in Latin America....
For juniors constrained by limited resources, usable and inexpensive government survey data is often the key to stimulating and advancing greenfields projects.
by Dan Zlotnikov on June 4, 2012 applied
A junior exploration company’s path to success is fraught with risks and upsets; and opportunities are constrained by their limited resources. With each diamond drill hole costing $50,000 or more, a junior can only have so many miscalculations before it will find itself with no money, no promising discovery, and no way to continue the work.
Given the risks a junior must already accept, anything that serves to relieve the risk and reduce unnecessary expenditure of limited funds is welcome. What if, to pick a not very random example, some of the large-scale, regional sampling and surveying was already done? Better yet, what if the resulting data were made available for free?
This is exactly what happened in the case of Bowgan Minerals, an Australian exploration company working on two joint-venture properties with Mega Hindmarsh. Gary Price, Bowgan’s chairman and Manager of Geology, explains that the data gathered by the Geoscience Australia has proven very helpful to the partners.
“The bulk of our targets have been generated after in-house analysis of government data,” he says.Some of the targets being worked on were identified during the company’s own exploration activities, but the majority were recommended by “a very good geophysicist at Mega Hindmarsh,” gleaned from the government data.
Price adds that the database includes not only data gathered directly through government-funded programs, but also results of previous exploration work done in the area by private firms.
“Once tenements are surrendered or work is discontinued, within a period of time that data is collated into a usable format and also made available to the public,” he says.
Bowgan, in turn, has to report its exploration results annually to the government, closing the information-sharing cycle.
Overall, Price says the company has benefited significantly from being able to access the government’s repository of information.
“We're very happy with that amount of data, being able to access that information. We're talking a variety of formats, a variety of different methodologies, and a large amount of usable data. To access that at minimal expense is a tremendous benefit.”
Halfway across the world in Ontario, VP of Exploration at Trelawney Mining David Beilhartz tells a similar story. Trelawney recently discovered the almost seven-million-ounce Côté Lake gold deposit, and is now engaged in advanced exploration at the site. Beilhartz says that while previous exploration had taken place on the property, no gold production has ever taken place.
The exploration program Trelawney put together was based on a compilation of historical data available from government websites and that held by companies who’ve explored the property over the past 60 years.
“The majority of previous landowners' data was acquired through the government, though some we purchased directly from the landowners. Most of the government data was from the assessment reports filed with the OGS,” says Beilhartz.
Beilhartz explains that companies engaged in exploration in the province must file the results with the government in order to get assessment credits needed to keep their claim in good standing. These reports are processed by the OGS – the Ontario Geological Survey – and made available to the public at no cost through the OGS website.
Price highlights a second benefit government survey work can bring: Regional surveys, while comparatively low-resolution, can cover vast areas. The individual exploration firms can then use that data to identify promising areas where they can conduct their own, more detailed, work.
Since the government-run programs don’t set the goal of finding a specific deposit, they can also look at less obvious areas, sometimes with unexpected results. Price recently attended a conference where a geologist from the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS) presented the results of a nationwide stream sediment sampling program. “Through this study they’ve identified a number of new provinces for particular elements that haven't been recognized before,” he says.
“They were saying, ‘this province here, near Alice Springs, and this province up here, we didn't realize that this element is occurring in abundance within stream sediments in that area. We would recommend, if you're interested, to have a look in this area.’”
The payoff for the government can be years – or even decades – down the road, in the form of more exploration activity and eventually more producing mines paying taxes and stimulating economic activity.
Admittedly, the data can go stale, over the years and decades: Beilhartz holds up expanded geophysical survey coverage and better understanding of orebodies as a reason for government teams to revisit previously-surveyed areas and update the data.
“In Ontario's case, a lot of old areas that have only seen mapping in the 40s and 50s. There's a lot of updating that can be done in the North-Eastern Ontario region,” he says.
“For gold and other minerals as well, deposit models have changed a lot in the last 40 years. They're finding deposits in areas that 20, 30 years ago people were saying ‘there's nothing in that area. Why should we look there?”.
In a way, Trelawney is a living example of both benefiting from improved understanding of orebodies and of spurring that understanding on. Rather than the high-grade, low-tonnage Archaean gold deposits common the Greenstone Belt of Northern Ontario, Côté Lake is a low-grade, high-tonnage porphyry-style deposit, a deposit type previously not thought to exist in the area. Beilhartz says that Trelawney sought advice from the OGS staff geologists when the company was trying to select the correct deposit model for Côté Lake.
“After the discovery, their more general and academic experience was very useful in helping define what type of deposit we were looking at,” he explains.
Brian Atkinson, a Regional Resident Geologist with the OGS and one of the people Trelawney asked for advice, says that now that there is unequivocal evidence of this type of deposit in the region, explorers will know to include the appropriate model in their analysis and structure their exploration programs accordingly. How will they know? By asking their Resident Geologist, of course.
This access to the government’s experts is a service Beilhartz highlights as very valuable.
The ability to not only use static survey data or look at assessment filings but to also contact the scientists for advice is a benefit Beilhartz greatly appreciates.
“The government geologists are always available to talk to, no matter whether you're exploring in an area or not, they're always very helpful with ideas and theories of where you should explore in Ontario. Even if you're a junior company coming to Ontario and you say you want to look for this particular type of deposit, they'll help you in targeting areas of the province where you can focus your efforts,” he says.
Nor is the geologists’ advice limited to broad, region-sized decisions. Atkinson points to drill hole spacing as one – potentially very expensive – decision that would change based on the deposit model. The challenge of a drill program is to get the maximum amount of information about your deposit while drilling the smallest number of oh-so-expensive drill holes possible. In the case of Côté Lake, Atkinson says, the drill holes were spaced about 100m apart. But try that with an Archaean-type deposit?
“You could hide a mine between these two drill holes. It's very high-grade, but very small.”
Little wonder then that Beilhartz has so much positive to say about the OGS scientists’ help.
If you’re a junior in search of a promising area to explore, or even if you’ve already made a discovery but could use a different perspective on your deposit, the local geological survey office may be a good place to turn to. Atkinson points out that virtually every country has a geological survey office, many of which make survey data available. Atkinson notes that while most charge for the data and consultations, Ontario offers both for free. This strategy that seems to be paying off for the province in the form of exploration activity: According to Atkinson, some 330 companies had spent more than $1 billion on exploration in the province in 2011, a record high.
“As long as prices of metals and commodities remain high, we'll keep seeing lots of exploration and new discoveries,” he says. Which ultimately is the whole point.
Lake Sediment Sampling Program Helps Detect Mineral Potential