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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.

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New perspective accelerates exploration at Eaglecrest's San Simon project

President Hans Rasmussen explains how having the right team and technology is contributing to higher success rates for Eaglecrest

Sometimes, simply viewing exploration results from a different perspective can highlight hidden details and change the whole direction of a project. That's what happened when Hans Rasmussen, a former senior geophysicist for Newmont and Rio Tinto, took the helm at Eaglecrest Explorations Ltd. (now Columbia Crest Gold Corp) and brought his appreciation for having the right team, approach and technology to explore projects to the fullest.

Rasmussen's first priority as President of Eaglecrest was to assemble a first-class team, both on the executive and on the ground, to lead and develop the company's advanced gold exploration projects. And his first observation on the ground was that the company needed to update the archaic software being used on drill projects, and bring in technology that enabled deeper, three dimensional insight.

Although Eaglecrest had been exploring the San Simon gold project in northeastern Bolivia for more than a decade, it wasn't until last year, when Rasmussen's team used the Geosoft exploration platform, and specifically their Target exploration geology application, to produce a 3-D model of previous drill sections, that Eaglecrest noticed something it hadn't seen before: the gold was concentrated in vertically-oriented high-grade gold shoots.

Three Dimensional Model of High Grade Gold Shoots

Three Dimensional Model of High Grade Gold Shoots created in Geosoft Target.

Rasmussen immediately revised the drill program to reflect this new understanding of gold distribution and since then, at least a third of the holes on the main ore shoot have hit grades of better than 10 grams gold per tonne. As the company progresses towards establishing an underground resource for San Simon, the original Target model is continuously being updated and used to illustrate drill results to shareholders.

"From a business perspective, this kind of technology is helping tremendously," says Rasmussen, president and
COO of Eaglecrest. "There is no question of the impact a three dimensional presentation makes on the average investor." And no question that during this period of accelerated worldwide exploration, explorers that can manage different data sets quickly and effectively, then convey the results to investors in a manner that is easy to visualize and understand, will have a competitive advantage over those who can't.

The record of the past two decades shows that mineral discovery rates have fallen even as the level of investment in exploration has risen to an all-time high. Companies are spending more than ever, but discovering less. To improve their hit rates, they need a means to manage their bourgeoning data.

Having one platform for working with exploration data and GIS data in three dimensions is where Rasmussen sees greatest advantage. "We can incorporate GIS data and exploration data - from technical information to topographic data - and view it all in three dimensions within our Geosoft platform," says Rasmussen. "That's a core strength for our advanced exploration."

In the earlier phases of exploration, when acquiring prospective ground and selecting targets is important, software like Geosoft Target is able to maximize the value of all available data and enable focused perspective to support drill decisions.

Later, as the company grows and takes on more exploration projects or moves into advanced exploration, their Geosoft platform can grow with them, adapting to larger and more complex datasets as a project or company develops.

As Eaglecrest gathers the information required to produce a resource estimate for San Simon, Target continues to unlock the mysteries of the subsurface to ensure that the drilling is focused and effective. As testament to the value of the 3-D model, Eaglecrest has recently been intersecting some of the highest grades the San Simon property has ever produced.

There is also the opportunity to gather insight beyond their immediate drilling area. "Target is very good for cross-sections and it's good for planned view maps, so we've also been able to incorporate satellite images with surface geochemistry as a means of exploring our project outside of where we're drilling," says Rasmussen. "That's another capability that Target provides."

"Exploration technology has made huge leaps in how you incorporate data, grid it, and then present it," says Rasmussen. "The Geosoft platform and Target have worked out really well for us, meeting our technical requirements as well as our business need to effectively present our results to investors."