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An Economic Perspective on Deep & Under Cover Minerals Exploration

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Conferences, Exploration, Mining


Earlier this year my PhD supervisor, Allan Trench, presented an opening address to a special workshop at the ASEG-PESA (Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists & Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia) 2015 conference, with some co-author assistance from myself and Matthew Kanakis. The workshop was entitled ‘Geophysical signatures of mineral systems: more than bumps’. The workshop addresses the fact that as we deplete surface exposed mineral deposits we will increasingly need to target, discover and then mine covered mineral deposits – those not exposed at the surface and hidden by soil and regolith. Incumbent in this is also a movement to progressively deeper exploration, both in exploring underneath surface exposed mineral deposits and in seeing through increasingly deep cover of soil and regolith. Geophysics clearly has a role in this in being able to see deposits hidden at greater depths and under cover. Similarly mineral systems theory is also important, allowing predictive exploration, with explorers and scientists now aiming to predict where mineral deposits should be at depth and in new terrains, before than going out to find them (likely using some geophysics tools). This of course was the focus of the special workshop, however Allan was asked to kick things of with an economics focused presentation (this is after all an applied area of geophysics, so relating it to industry economics is important) entitled: “An Economic Perspective on Deep & Under Cover Exploration”. The presentation explored what economics had to say about “What we are looking for and how do we get there?”. To extent the answers at a high level are obvious – we are looking for high quality discoveries, however we still don’t really know what ‘high quality’ means, especially when we try to understand the economics of underground mining. We conclude that essentially there is a lot of work to be done on this topic and we are only really at the beginning of our understanding. A copy of the presentation is included below:

Economic perspective on deep and under cover exploration – Trench et al – Mar 2015 – Centre for Exploration Targeting / Curtin University / University of Western Australia from John Sykes