The people, science and technology behind discovery

Smart exploration on a shoestring

by Carmela Burns on April 10, 2015 applied

3D Voxel[Click to enlarge]

3D Voxel of inverted 3D IP, with geology and resource outline from Colorado Resources’ North ROK project.


In today’s challenging market, consulting Geophysicist Alex Walcott feels lucky to be working with a company that believes in grassroots exploration. He considers Colorado Resources’ North ROK project a textbook example of the proper approach to exploration: methodical, cost effective and results-oriented. 

“Starting with a 3 hole drill program and a budget of less than $300,000” says Walcott “the company went from discovery to their first inferred resource in just over 9 months.”

The North ROK copper-gold porphyry project lies 15 km northwest of the Red Chris mine development in northern British Columbia. Colorado’s first hole on the property in 2013 tested a chargeability anomaly and hit big: 333 m grading 0.51 % copper and 0.67 g/t gold. Since then, the company has outlined an inferred resource of 142.3 million tonnes averaging 0.22% copper and 0.26 g/t gold in 34 holes.

All along the way, Walcott and Colorado’s in-house GIS specialist, Allan Jacobs, have used the Geosoft platform to integrate data and build knowledge: from creating maps and simple survey grids in the early stages, to analyzing geochemistry and building geophysical models as the project advanced, to finally preparing the resource wireframes.

Behind the rapid progress at North ROK was Colorado’s simple yet smart approach: don’t waste money but use every penny, and every available resource; look at your data from every angle, and when you’re ready, get out there and drill.

“We make careful, diligent geologic maps, alteration maps, IP inversions, and we work as a team to comb through every layer of data,” says Chief Geoscientist Jim Oliver, who spends 80% of his workdays in the field.

Smarter exploration means squeezing more value from the available data. And doing so in real time. During the drill program, the team plotted results nightly and communicated daily to ensure nothing was missed. More than 80% of the data analysis was done using Geosoft Oasis montaj and Target 3D geology program.

“We had a lot of data,” says Walcott, “and with Geosoft we were able to visualize it quickly and overlay anything on top – geophysics, geochemistry, block models. We could also import it to Surpac and other mining software.” 

Using a single software platform to integrate the North ROK project data kept the datasets consistent and updated. “It meant we could reliably generate custom products for presentations, analysis and drill planning.”

Walcott was equally impressed with the 3D inversion modelling results generated with Geosoft’s cloud-powered VOXI Earth Modelling. “VOXI has come a long way, and cloud computing is definitely the way of the future,” he says. “You can run inversions and integrate them back into the geology. You can run a lot of models and run multiple inversions at once. The speed is really impressive, and you’re able to experiment and try more things in tighter time frames.” 

North ROK will require more drilling and other evaluation to determine if the growing resource has mining potential. In the meantime, Colorado is using the same methodical and cost-effective exploration approach to delineate high grade gold in veins and bulk tonnage copper-gold mineralization at its KSP project to the south.

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