Exploration for gold is picking up globally and geologists are looking for ways to become more effective in finding deposits. I went to the biannual NewGenGold 2017 held in Perth on November 14-15 to learn more about what exploration companies are up to.
Turnout was strong at the conference, which focusses on discoveries of new deposits of gold. The room was filled with exciting projects and engaged and motivated geologists and representatives from industry. This year attendance was up, roughly doubling the numbers of the previous conference in 2015.
Throughout the talks there were three key themes from the conference this year: getting back to basics in exploration, how leadership matters and the need for collaboration in exploration.
At the conference there was a theme of geologists getting into the field and seeing things first-hand to make better decisions.
Dan Wood, Adjunct Professor at W H Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre and former Executive General Manager Exploration Newcrest Mining Limited, delivered the keynote address on day one where he argued that original observation in the field is where new discoveries will be made in gold.
He said it’s both IQ (the brains) and NQ (the drill bit) that finds the gold, meaning that drilling a lot and thinking a lot about the results will lead to discoveries.
Wood noted there had been few advancements in the way gold is explored for since 2005. He also pointed out new discoveries of gold will come from deeper drilling, which is a challenge for the industry because more than half of discoveries are now made by juniors, which lack the funds to drill deep. A reliance on investor capital rather than cash flow means juniors rely on surface drilling, where a lot of the low hanging fruit has already been picked.
Management committing resources to exploration with a committed team was cited as a success factor at the conference.
Dan Baldwin, Exploration Manager at Dacian Gold Limited discussed how he was involved in taking Dacian Gold’s two plus-one million ounce discoveries into production and to an IPO in five years.
He attributed the success of the project to a few factors including strong management and vision, excellent geological leadership and knowing when to get help. He had a team of disciplined and professional geologists and field staff who were focussed on doing the best possible job.
Gerard de Hert, Senior Vice President Exploration at Endeavour Mining, also reflected the positive sentiment of geologists being hands-on, and walking over the ground was critical to the final success of the Hounde Gold Operation.
The eventual success of the Hounde Gold Operation has come after a long history of exploration by other companies in the area. De Hert acknowledges the good work done by other geologists prior to the recent discoveries.
A common theme through the presentations was the need for a multi-disciplined approach to exploration.
Benn Whistler, from SolGold, spoke about the collaboration of techniques including geochemical soil surveys, spectral analysis as well as channel sampling, trenching, examining the chalcopyrite-to-pyrite ratios and Anaconda-style mapping.
The technology has to support the geologists who are out there collecting original data in the field and keeping it organised to garner information from it.
There was healthy tension around geologists using new technologies and developing intriguing models versus the need to be out in the field actually drilling. There was caution against over-reliance on high technology and beautiful graphical models in favour of geologists working with the fundamentals, using good old colour pencils in mapping, getting hands on the core and drilling deeper.
acQuire sees the opportunity to bring all functions in exploration and mining together, by providing a single source of truth to all people working with geoscientific data.
Whether it is field-based observation or assessment of drilling results in head office, GIM Suite is a place where you can keep your data organised for maximum benefit. When geologists have the right tools at hand, they can spend more time on geology and less time on data management.
If you want to find out more about how GIM Suite can help organise your data for your team and improve overall productivity, get in touch with our team.