Wednesday , 17 October 2018

Gold: Difficulties In Going “Under Cover” To Find Hidden Deposits Are Great BUT So Are the Rewards

Today’s infographic comes to us from Nevada Exploration, and it identifies the problem behind finding  “hidden” deposits of gold that do not leave a helpful trail of clues on the surface.

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…Almost all early-stage prospecting methods are still based on the same key principle: trying to find areas of exposed bedrock, called outcrops, that indicate an orebody is near…[so] what happens when a geological system doesn’t come in contact directly with the surface – when deposits are trapped underneath large amounts of soil and gravel in what geologists call a “covered” setting?…They must first find a way to “see through” the cover in order to identify what geological systems really exist below and seeing through cover can be expensive and difficult to do, but it also has big potential upside. [That being said,]…many geologists think that the next game-changing gold deposit could be found under cover.

For every industry problem, there is often a precedent to be found elsewhere – and an interesting situation that is analogous was faced by the oil exploration industry years ago. They had reached diminishing returns with shallow water deposits, and developed technology to go deeper. Suddenly, monster deposits were being found again. Experts involved in mineral exploration see the same thing happening with cover. In other words: whoever can figure out how to explore under cover could be reaping big benefits.

In the world’s most prolific gold jurisdictions, there are massive amounts of land that have not yet been explored because of cover. In Canada and in Australia, over 70% of land is covered. In Nevada, which produces the most gold ounces per square kilometer, about 55% of land is covered….Imagine what gold could be hidden under soil and gravel within the valleys of the state and global data so far suggests that deposits discovered under cover tend to be 2-4x bigger.

While the idea of unlocking this potential is extremely exciting, it also poses a significant technical challenge. Conventional tools are poorly suited to covered settings, and existing techniques for systematic exploration don’t work. The end result is high-risk, high-cost exploration. To successfully explore through cover, companies need:

  • New technology to see through cover
  • A way to lower the costs of testing targets
  • A way to directly test covered bedrock

So far, a few ideas have been pioneered for seeing through cover – and it will be interesting to see what results they bring in. If any of them are able to unlock the secret of exploring through cover, it could be the catalyst for industrywide change, as well as the discovery of the monster deposits that will meet our mineral needs of the future.

[Below is an] infographic from Nevada Exploration that identifies the problem behind finding these “hidden” deposits that do not leave a helpful trail of clues on the surface…

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