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Cutting Edge Prospects

Miranda Gold uses the third dimension to generate quality prospects and attract partner interest

By Virginia Heffernan

For an exploration company whose business model depends on using data to entice potential joint venture partners, choosing appropriate software to process and display that information in a meaningful way is crucial to success.

“We take a project with no data or very little data and bring it up to joint venture status,” says Brian Cellura, generative manager for B.C.-based Miranda Gold Corp. “The software is the critical link between the data collection and the GIS environment because it allows us to move the data into a 3-D model that is ultimately what you want to present to partners.”

Cellura and his team use Geosoft’s Target for ArcGIS to combine different types of data with historical drill logs to arrive at a visual display that can point to new drill targets on Miranda’s gold projects in Nevada, Alaska and now Colombia. The data is presented in a 3-D format to potential partners willing to spend the money required to take the project to the next level of exploration.

For instance, by using Target to produce a 3-D rendering of drill hole data from the company’s Redlich project in Esmeralda County, Nevada, Miranda’s geologists were able to confirm that the previous project operator had missed the main gold zone because they were drilling in the wrong direction.

Although Miranda has yet to announce a major discovery, the junior has been successful in farming out properties without diluting its share structure or treasury. Currently, the junior has 15 projects on the go and about $10 million in the bank with the goal of generating 1-2 new projects in Nevada every year.

Cellura is methodical in his approach to project generation. The first step is to evaluate land status to determine what ground is open, or coming open, for staking. He then combines ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) data with Digital Elevation Models (DEM) to identify any major structures or alternation associated with gold.
If the area looks intriguing, the next step is to find as much historical data as possible and plug it into the database. “One of the nice things about working in the United Sates is that in almost every area, someone has done something at some point,” says Cellura.

At this point, regional stream sampling can help identify the large arsenic plumes that are often associated with gold deposits in Nevada, and hyperspectral remote sensing surveys provide more detailed information about alteration minerals.

On the ground, Miranda has developed a portable system that can measure the mercury gas associated with some Nevada gold deposits. One metre deep holes drilled by auger are capped and allowed to collect mercury gas for about thirty minutes. Miranda then tests the holes for gas concentrations using a handheld mercury spectrometer that is hooked up to a computer on the back of an ATV. Being able to integrate field data into the office database almost instantaneously is an important component of Miranda’s business model.

“All of our geologists run ArcPad on handheld Trimble/Archer units,” says Cellura. “At the end of the day, they have a series of data and reference points that can be incorporated into a GIS environment so they have a base geologic, structural and alteration map right from the time they get back to the office. The assays then get dumped into the database so that everything is viewable in the GIS environment. We try to automate this as much as possible.”

In Nevada, Cellura says he is aiming to integrate public databases of groundwater geochemistry with Miranda’s own stream sediment assays, then combine these geochemical results with the ASTER and DEM data to come up with profiles of areas where the pediment may be covering undiscovered gold deposits.

In Colombia and Alaska, where ASTER is not as effective due to thick cover of vegetation, he is looking into using botany studies in conjunction with ASTER to determine vegetation types that may point to specific alteration.
“One of the things that Miranda tries to do is stay on the cutting edge of technology,” says Cellura.“There are new technologies that we are still learning about and trying to fit in with what we are doing right now.”