Early Phase of Mineral Exploration: Developing a solid foundation

Generating potential targets for geological evaluation is the critical first stage in the mineral exploration process. Initially, review of existing geological data and other relevant source is performed, including information from depleted mines and previous exploration work. This process will provide important guidance for a more cost effective exploratory program.


Figure 1: Usage of GIS mapping as  tool for prospecting

Prospecting is the systematic process of searching for a mineral deposit by narrowing down areas of promising enhanced mineral potential. In other words, prospecting involves searching a district for mineral deposits with the view to mine it at a profit (Adapted from Hartman, 2002 and Fernberg, 2010).


Figure 2: Reviewing geological data

During the stages of prospecting and exploration of a mining project, there is usually great potential for value creation. A mining project may change hands during these stages, with exploration and junior mining companies often owning projects in the initial exploration stages, and with medium and larger mining companies acquiring projects and developing them further into the post feasibility stages. Typically, exploration and junior mining companies do not generate any cash flow or earnings. These companies often consist of a management team, one to several properties and some cash. They raise risk capital by selling shares for exploring potential mineral deposits (Adapted from Hohn, 2009 and Smit, 2008).


Figure 3: Mineral exploration in remote locations

Traditionally, prospecting was the search for simple visual surface indications of mineralization. Nowadays the range of surface indications expanded significantly by the use of sophisticated geophysical and geo-chemical techniques. However, the skills and abilities involved in successful prospecting are common to all techniques. They involve hands on approach, communication skills, knowledge, insight, opportunism, persistence, lateral thinking and luck (Adapted from Marjoribanks, 1997).


Figure 4: Usage of electrical resistivity as prospecting tool

Once a prospect has been identified, and the right to explore it acquired, assessing it involves advancing through a progressive series of definable exploration stages. Positive results in any stage will lead to advance to the next stage and an escalation of the exploration effort. Negative results mean that the prospect will be discarded, sold or joint ventured to another party, or simply put on hold until the acquisition of new data, concepts and/or technology lead to a positive re-evaluation and subsequent reactivation (Adapted from Marjoribanks, 1997).


Figure 5: Prospecting for gold: old tricks of the trade

Early and sustained engagement and partnerships among governments, industry, and communities are critical at each stage of the mineral development sequence. Sustained engagement and partnership help to alleviate some of the issues and concerns that act as barriers to advancing resource projects. Relationships developed through collaboration and dialogue among multiple stakeholders, communities, and governments offer the opportunity to gain a better reciprocal understanding, establish trust, develop respect, and identify mutually beneficial goals in a transparent manner (Adapted from Advisory committee Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference, 2014).


Figure 6: Usage of open house and/or follow up meetings for engaging local community

As identified by The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), sustainable business practices integrate environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic prosperity to ensure the long-term supply of aggregate materials to society.  The long-term viability of the industry is dependent on obtaining and maintaining a social license to operate.

Are you aware of any mining project in your area (e.g. aggregates operations) ? Do you have any suggestion regarding sustainable initiatives?


Marjoribanks, R. W.,” Geological Methods in Mineral Exploration and Mining”, Springer-Verlag Berlin 1997).

Hartman et al, “Introductory to Mining engineering”, SME Mining Engineering Handbook, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (2002).

Hohn, M.,” Investing in Community: Canadian Junior Mining Companies, Corporate Social Responsibility, and the Communication Gap”, thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Professional communication, Royal Roads University (June, 2009).

Smith, L. D.,” Discounted Cash Flow Analysis, Methodology & Discount Rates”, CIM-PDAC Mining Millennium 2000, (March, 2000).

Advisory committee, “Good Practices in Community Engagement and Readiness: Compendium of Case Studies from Canada’s”, Minerals and Metals Sector”, 2014 Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference, Sudbury, Ontario (August, 2014). Last accessed on 06/11/2016 https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/www/pdf/publications/emmc/Good_practice_Compendium_e.pdf

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), ” H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011”, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, (October 25, 2011).

Fernberg, H. “Prospecting and exploration for minerals” Atlas Copco, Talking Technically Series, (July, 2010). Last accessed on 06/11/2016 http://www.atlascopcoexploration.com/



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