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

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...

Sourcing regional data: Government survey data serving greenfields explorers

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.

Regional Impact

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.

Related Articles:
Lake Sediment Sampling Program Helps Detect Mineral Potential