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Infographic: The mineral exploration roadmap

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | March 5, 2018

Infographic The mineral exploration roadmap


There is nothing more exciting than making some type of discovery.

Discoveries can come in many forms—they can be physical, scientific, personal or even philosophical in nature. But while there are different types of discoveries that can be made, perhaps the most tactile kind of discovery is in the field of mineral exploration.

The discovery of a mineral deposit can transform a piece of “moose pasture” into a new economic asset, and it may enable millions or billions of dollars worth of metals and minerals to be used for human purposes.

These minerals get used all around us—they go into our houses, cars, infrastructure, jewelry, electronics and they can even be used to power the green revolution.

From prospecting to production

Making an economic mineral discovery is the goal of many teams around the world, but these efforts can also be extremely difficult, costly and time-consuming, and most companies engaged in exploration end up walking away empty-handed.

This infographic comes to us from Orix Geoscience and it shows the steps of mineral exploration, and how teams can maximize their odds of success by using data to add value throughout the process.

Steps of the mineral exploration process

1. Exploration strategy
Where do you choose to explore? There are two basic strategies:

(a) Working from the known
Some types of deposits tend to form in clusters in prolific belts, and exploration occurs outward from known mineralization.

(b) Working from the unknown
If you review all available information, prospective areas with potential for discoveries can be identified.

2. Prospecting
In this stage, boots are now on the ground—and it’s time to explore the backwoods for showings. Prospectors will stake claims, map outcrops and showings, or search for indicator minerals.

The goal of the prospecting stage is to find the earliest piece of the exploration puzzle: the clue that there is something much bigger beneath.

3. Early-stage exploration
Congrats, you’ve found something interesting—and now it’s time to ramp up exploration efforts!

This is where the amount of data and sophistication picks up. In this stage, companies are using resources and techniques such as existing maps and historical data, geophysics, ground truthing, geochemistry and trenching to try to identify drill targets.

4. The “truth machine”
Geologists don’t call the drill a “truth machine” for nothing. If you hit your target, you’re in business. If you miss, it’s time to go back a step and find new ones.

5. Discovery
Eureka! You’ve found something. Now it’s time to see how far the mineralization goes!

Once you have enough information, you can get an official resource estimate. This data is another puzzle piece that will be crucial as you advance your discovery.

6. De-risking
Even at the best of times, mining can be expensive, risky and tricky.

That’s why your investors and backers will want you to source even more data—it’ll allow you to see a clearer picture of the deposit and help your team see how it might take shape as a mine.

At this stage drilling, metallurgical tests, environmental assessments, 3D models and mine designs are used to increase confidence in the project.

Data starts to get very granular. Your company may do a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) to assess the potential economic outcomes of a mine. Then the company may conduct an in-depth feasibility study to help make a production decision.

Final steps

By this point you may have all the puzzle pieces—a clear vision of the deposit and its potential—to make a decision!

If the puzzle looks good, it’s time to decide whether to construct the mine and start commercial production. But the data doesn’t stop there—at these later stages, even more data gets created and it can help you make better decisions.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

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