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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...

Exploring deeper with less risk: 3 lessons for mineral explorers from the oil patch

by Kylie Williams on April 23, 2015 expertise

Duncan MacGregor, of MacGeology, is using screening techniques to explore for carbonatites and petroleum in Malawi.

Vibroseis trucks at work during one of Teck’s seismic surveys in 

When mineral exploration companies tighten their belts during a downturn, the first victim is often the research and development division. However the questions they answer - how to do business better, smarter and cheaper - remains and is especially pertinent during tough times. The clever companies are looking to other industries to learn from their successes and mistakes, namely oil and gas.

“One of the key benefits of using oil industry technology is the ability to reduce geological uncertainty and develop a better understanding of subsurface risk,” explains James Etienne, Managing Director with UK-based consultancy, Neftex, and one of the co-chairs of the ‘Adopting tools and techniques from the oil patch’ technical session at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada annual conference this year.

With most targets close to the surface already discovered, and industry dollars spread thin, mineral explorers can no longer rely solely on the proven old methods to find new, deeply buried deposits. The expert panel at PDAC agree that adapting the multi-faceted, broad-scale exploration approach used by the oil and gas industry in recent decades to conquer this challenge of ‘blind’ exploration is the way to go.

We’ve distilled three lessons from the oil patch to inspire mineral explorers to dig deeper with confidence.

1. Seismic is not just for oil and gas

“In mature jurisdictions, our traditional methods of defining targets are becoming less effective.   Our industry is going to have to become more selective with targeting in these scenarios,” says Chad Hewson, Manager, Exploration - Ireland and Principal Geophysicist of Teck Resources Limited.

Seismic reflection surveys are usually associated with oil exploration to identify the layers in sedimentary basins likely to trap oil resources, but their use in mineral exploration has increased in the last 10-20 years, and not just for near-mine exploration, but greenfield jurisdictions to.

“In certain geologic environments, adding seismic reflection to the process at an early stage allows the geoscientist to define key targeting criteria such as depth or structural setting accurately prior to drilling to ensure drill meters are testing the highest priority prospects,” says Hewson. 
Hewson has added seismic reflection surveys to his exploration toolbox in early-stage lead and zinc exploration projects in the Irish Midlands. The data has provided accurate structural and stratigraphic information for smarter, more focused drilling of deep targets.

2. Integrate data for maximum value

Data overload has become a common complaint for explorers in recent years. Another valuable lesson mineral explorers can learn from the oil patch is how to integrate multi-disciplinary data and extract better results.

“We are overloaded with data and some of the most recent discoveries of oil come from reworking of old data, so the same should be true of the mineral industry,” says Duncan MacGregor, Consultant Geologist and Principal of MacGeology.

MacGregor is modifying the tried and true oil patch method of constructing chance-of-occurrence maps in the search for carbonatite and rare earth element in East Africa.

His work has shown that it is possible to identify these mineral deposits by associating known occurrences with specific regional geological criteria and genetic models in the same way as applied in petroleum generation.

“Using screening techniques similar to those used in oil and gas exploration is helping to focus more serious and expensive work in the regions most likely to succeed,” says MacGregor.

3. Look at the big picture

All explorers want to reduce uncertainty and minimize risk when exploring the subsurface. This becomes harder as explorers drive deeper to find ore bodies

“Over the past few decades the oil and gas business has faced this challenge of ‘blind’ exploration head-on, investing hundreds of billions of dollars in data acquisition, tools and techniques to try and characterize and better predict geological risk and uncertainty in subsurface exploration,” says Etienne.

Etienne and his colleagues at Neftex have mirrored the successful integrated approach used by the oil and gas industry by combining multi-disciplinary data with an appreciation of regional geological trends and an understanding of tectonostratigraphy.

“Oil industry exploration concepts effectively channel the process across a range of scales – from global new ventures exploration, to regional understanding, basin scale analysis for making licensing decisions, all the way down to prospect evaluation.  This play-based exploration approach can be applied to genetic models for mineral deposits,” says Etienne.

New horizons and deeper depths

The oil patch session at this year’s PDAC reminded mineral explorers to look beyond individual projects and claims. By modifying the technologies and strategies used in oil and gas to suit mineral exploration situations, and recognizing the value of regional geological understanding, it is possible to extract more value from the data, and make smarter exploration decisions. 


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