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...

Give them data and they will come

by Virginia Heffernan on AUGUST 4, 2016 Expertise

John Hronsky, principal of Western Mining Services

Jon Hronsky, principal of Western Mining Services, spoke on the future of exploration in his keynote address at this year's PDAC convention.

New hunting grounds

New hunting grounds: exploration will need to focus on greenfields opportunities in covered terranes according to Hronsky.
Photo by Steve Hill, Geological survey of South Australia

“If you are thinking about your exploration strategy for the next 10 to 15 years, the availability of pre-competitive data starts to become a first order factor.” – Jon Hronsky

Geoscience data is to exploration what road systems are to transport: a precompetitive asset that jurisdictions must provide if they hope to foster a viable and sustainable mining industry.

“Pre-competitive geoscience data will be essential as we move into the 21st century because in order to find deposits that really matter, you’ll have you look in areas where they are concealed,” says Jon Hronsky, principal of Western Mining Services and one of the preeminent minds in mineral exploration. “You will need data, especially airborne magnetic and gravity data, you can use to map and interpret the rocks under cover and come up with targets.”

The availability of pre-competitive data varies widely. Countries such as Australia and Canada are ahead of the pack, routinely supplying high level data that helps stimulate exploration. Uganda has released geoscientific research generated by the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) using financing from the World Bank and Nordic Development fund. More recently, Botswana announced it would provide multidisciplinary data and information via an online geoscience portal, a move applauded by key stakeholders and the exploration community. Since the portal launched in April, over 500 datasets have been downloaded from 26 countries.

But many jurisdictions are in danger of being left behind because their geology is hidden under cover and poorly understood. Or, they may have the necessary data, but keep it to themselves.

“Some governments want to ensure cost recovery on their spending, but that defeats the strategic purpose: to encourage investment and reduce the barriers to entry,” said Hronsky in an interview subsequent to his keynote address at the PDAC conference in Toronto on the future of exploration. “Providing geoscience data is one of the best investments a government can make in terms of return.”

Other trends Hronsky expects to emerge from an industry ripe with opportunities to improve:

The definition of prospective will change

The environmental and economic cost of the large, low-grade deposits that represent the bulk of recent development projects will be prohibitive. Instead, deeper higher-grade deposits with smaller ecological footprints will become viable as disruptive technologies such as deep drilling and robotic mining enter the market.

The type of cover will also be a determinant, with relatively thin veneers over stable basement rocks (e.g. Canada’s Superior Province) trumping intramontane covers of varying thicknesses in neotectonic areas such as the Andes.

The explorer skill set will evolve

The technical capabilities required for future exploration will differ from traditional techniques and the tools and skills companies have at hand will need to align with the type of deposits they seek.

Using technology wisely can be part of that solution, says Tim Dobush, CEO of Geosoft. “We should be asking: can we do more with the data before we put the first drill hole in the ground? Mining the vast amounts of existing public geoscience and ancillary data provides us with millions of dollars of realized exploration assets. With the right geological insights and software technologies, it’s an excellent starting point for any project generation programme.”

Exploration will become more collaborative

In countries where most of the landmass is covered in weathered sediments, government, academia and industry (explorers and service providers) are pooling their resources to “uncover” the next generation of economic mineral deposits.

Initiatives such as Australia’s Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET), Canada’s CMIC-Exploration Innovation Consortium (EIC) Footprints Project, and the Frank Arnott Award (a collaborative challenge to encourage new ways of integrating and visualizing exploration data) recognize the requirement for geoscientists to work together to improve exploration outcomes.

Credibility will improve

During a decade marked by high expenditures and few discoveries, investors lost faith in the industry’s ability to allocate exploration capital wisely. In order to rebuild trust, explorers will have to communicate a clear, technically sound exploration strategy to sophisticated risk capital. 

That approach might require a middleman, such as a major company, willing to lend credibility to a group of carefully selected juniors in exchange for the opportunity to participate in discoveries.  Under this type of “project aggregator” model, the ability to manage and present data effectively to prospective investors will be essential.

A new era of prospectivity

Mineral exploration is entering a new era of shifting prospectivity, smarter use of technology, and better collaboration among geoscientists from the public and private sectors.  Jurisdictions willing to provide the data necessary to begin the search for buried deposits will reap the benefits of the next generation of mines.

“The availability of pre-competitive data starts to become a first order factor if we accept that we’ll have to find deposits under cover,” Hronsky says. “If other countries do not start investing in precompetitive research, you’ll see a return of exploration to jurisdictions where the information does exist.”

View all articles »