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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...

Russia's Missing Link

Education initiative trains next generation of geoscientists in new exploration technology and data processing

By Virginia Heffernan

The mineral potential is there. The geoscientists are highly educated. For the past few years, exploration spending has been robust. So why isn't Russia further ahead in the discovery of new mineral resources? The answer may come down to technology.

"There is a huge base of geologists, geophysicists and mining engineers in Russia with good professional education," says Victor Ovcharuk, Director of AGT Systems, a geophysical equipment supplier in Moscow. "What’s missing is applied knowledge of modern technology for exploration and mining."

Before the adoption of perestroika in 1987, Russia was one of the leaders in the development of new technologies for exploration. An established infrastructure of research, development and training ensured that exploration technologies were constantly evolving along with the technical expertise to operate them. Though the equipment was often inferior to similar products developed in North America, it served the purpose of supporting exploration for both minerals and oil and gas in the country.

That all changed with the dismantling of the USSR. Funding for research programs, education and technology froze almost instantly. Equipment, while still being manufactured, became outdated and uncompetitive. Between 1990 and 2003, the state spent virtually nothing on exploration for mineral resources. Private companies contributed some expenditures, but many foreign companies stayed clear because of the perceived political risk of operating in Russia.

More recently, exploration spending has been climbing and would have continued to do so had the global economy not headed into a tailspin, affecting exploration everywhere.  According to Halifax-based Metals Economics Group (MEG), spending in Russia - only US$16 million in 2002 - reached US$613 million 2007, making Russia the fourth largest target for exploration expenditures worldwide that year.

But the increased spending has yet to pay off in significant new deposits. The Ministry of Natural Resources has identified the low discovery rate as one of sector's main challenges. Because more than 50% of Russia's revenue stems from natural resources, replacing depleted reserves has become a top priority.   

As a result, the Ministry has agreed to double state spending on resource exploration to US$23 billion from 2010-2020. About half of the money will be spent looking for oil and gas, while the rest will be used to find new mineral reserves including precious metals and diamonds (12%), ferrous, non-ferrous and rare metals (8%) and uranium (7%).

There is much to explore. Russia contains approximately 15-17% of the world's mineral deposits, which have an estimated value of $US340-380 trillion, according to special report on Russia published by London-based Mining Journal in 2007. Approximately 20,000 Russian mineral deposits have been investigated, and more than one third of these have been mined and developed.

"Because we like big mineral deposits we regard Russia as prime exploration territory", said Tom Albanese, CEO of Rio Tinto in a an address to the CIS Metals Summit in 2006, shortly after the global mining leader had signed a join venture agreement with Norilsk Nickel for exploration and development in the country. "Russia is vast, endowed with great resource wealth and under explored using modern methods."

While Rio Tinto is able to import and apply in-house technology and expertise to its Russian exploration program, the state sponsored program will need to incorporate funding for modern technology and training if it is to succeed.

That's where AGT Systems, in cooperation with Geosoft and Perm State University in the Ural Mountains of Central Russia, is making a difference. Under a state-funded program called "Innovation Universities" that is designed to upgrade educational and research facilities at universities, the trio has established three teaching laboratories to train students in new exploration technology and data processing.

AGT Systems has served the Russian natural resource market for more than 10 years, providing modern geophysical technology to both the private and public sector. The company introduced the country to the walking magnetometer, an integrated high sensitivity instrument with automated GPS, the Scintrex Autograv, an automated gravity meter now common throughout Russia, and Oasis montaj, Geosoft's widely-used mapping software.

Now the company is focusing its attention on the next generation of Russian geoscientists. Although Geosoft software is the accepted standard in many research institutes and mining companies in Russia including ALROSA, Norilsk Nickel and Vostokgeologia, the state universities have been slow to adopt the technology, partly because of regulation that requires educational software to be in Russian, partly because the educators themselves have little knowledge of modern processing techniques, and partly because there is reluctance to spend money on software over hardware.

"Most of the universities prefer to buy equipment," says AGT's Ovcharuk. "The software is not considered a necessity by teachers and professors. But we are trying to promote the idea that modern technology without data processing software is not much better than a scrap pile."

As part of the education initiative, they have made introductory presentations for teachers and students, installed educational  licenses for Geosoft’s Oasis montaj earth  mapping platform and Target geology software on
several computers, and provided training for teachers, as well as consulting and technical support. Perm State is the first university in Russia to use the software for education.

In close cooperation with Dr. Vladimir Kostitsyn, Chief of the Geophysical Department of Perm State University’s Geological Faculty. AGT and Geosoft have established three teaching laboratories at Perm State complete with over 20 computer stations, each with Oasis montaj and Target licenses installed.

"Now each graduating class will produce dozens of new experts who will be familiar and experienced with the most advanced mapping and processing tools, and can take these new skills into industry and government,"says Ovcharuk.

AGT and Geosoft plan to replicate the success at Perm State at all the universities throughout Russia. Their next target is the new regional state university in Krasnoyarsk which is purchasing 20 education licenses for Geosoft software this year.

"With over half of Russia’s GDP derived from natural resources, partnerships like this are instrumental in unlocking future potential," says Wayne Higgins, Managing Director, Geosoft Europe Limited. "Ensuring students have the right tools and technology to rapidly hone their skills within academic lab settings is key to building the workforce and skill base required for exploration industries to develop and thrive in Russia."

Although it is too early to tell whether the investment in training and data processing will pay off in new mineral reserves for Russia, it is clear that without the investment in the next generation of geoscientists, maintaining the country’s reserve base will be difficult if not impossible.