We have already touched base concerning the full cycle of a mine and all its elements. Today we will go into heavy detail regarding the exploration phase of a mining cycle.
When mining companies start exploring a potential ‘hot spot’ for minerals, gold, metals and ore they require investments in order to execute the exploration of an area. Therefore, the purpose of mineral exploration is to locate and detect valuable minerals. This phase is a very slow one and usually lasts anywhere between 8-10 years. The most important end result to consider within this phase is the economic value that will potentially come out of the operation.
There are 3 types of exploration namely grassroots, brownfield and on-mine site.
• Grassroots exploration implies trying to locate a deposit of valuable minerals within an area that has not been found before. The success rate for grassroots exploration is highly low.
• Brownfield exploration implies the opposite – it is the exploration of additional deposits near established mines.
• On-mine site exploration reveals the expansion of new resources located at a mine already developed.
Successful exploration of a mine depends on a wide range specialized workers and depending on the size of the operation, the team is generally large and diverse when it comes to skills, knowledge and experience. People are hired not only for the field based roles but also for the project office based roles. The types of specialized employment undertaken by mining companies in order to gather field data include various job titles such as – drilling specialists, geologist, prospectors, geophysicists, assistants to specialists, pilots, who all make use of different technical machinery to retrieve the needed data. Satellite imagery, geophysical surveys and innovative technologies are examples of elements needed to help make critical findings.
Below explains a bit about all the activities included within the exploration stage.
Prospecting is the least disruptive activity and simply means to search for mineral deposits during the summer time.
Geological, geochemical and geophysical assessments are all ways to help locate a mine.
Drilling through soil or rock helps provide a larger and more specific representative sampling of a mineral deposit.
Drilling evaluation means that once there is an indication that there is a potential mineral deposit, the matter now needs to be sampled. This is important as it determines the extent and shape of the mineral deposit located.
Scoping and prefeasibility studies are vital to the determination of the mine and indicates if the mine is feasible.