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TitleThe importance of state-funded data gathering in the generation of exploration targets
AuthorSaindi, Troth Ntila
AbstractThis research report is submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Economic Geology, September 2018
AbstractThis research report discusses the importance of state-funded geoscientific data sets (also known as pre-competitive data) in the initial generation of mineral exploration targets. These are data sets that any country may and need to have in their geoscientific database to provide either freely or at a minimal fee to the public or prospective investors. Such data sets may include geochemical data, geophysical data, geological data, maps, technical reports, imagery and are usually made available through the state’s Geological Survey Organisations (GSO’s) or any state – run geoscientific institutions like the Council of Geosciences (CGS) in the Republic of South Africa. The availability or unavailability of such data sets during the initial stages of a particular mineral exploration project for a particular exploration destination has a very important effect in the establishment of any mineral exploration project, and subsequently on the success and benefits of such projects, both to the investors and the state. A case study of the Bushveld Minerals Ltd Mokopane Iron-Vanadium-Titanium Project in Limpopo Province, South Africa is used to demonstrate the importance of pre-competitive data sets. This project acquired data from the Council of Geosciences and such data included regional geochemical data, regional geological data (geological logs, historic drill core and assay data), regional aeromagnetic and radiometric data, geological maps and some technical reports. The data was processed, integrated and was used to establish the initial exploration targets. Any follow up exploration activities were based on this initial data. This project now prides itself with JORC compliant resources and reserves of 298Mt of vanadium ore across three parallel overlying magnetite layers – the MML (Main Magnetite Layer), the MML Hanging Wall and the AB Zone, with grades ranging from 1.6% to over 2% V2O5. Secondly, examples from other parts of the world including Northern Ireland, Canada, Burkina Faso, Namibia, have been discussed to complement the Case Study. In the end, the research report shows that exploration jurisdictions that have pre-competitive data freely available have high inward investment rate as compared to those without any data. It also shows that the availability of such data sets helps to reduce the exploration expenses incurred by the prospective investors in their operations but at the same time boosting returns for the state because of the high number of inward coming investment. Following the concluding statements, the report also emphasizes implementation of procedures that have been used by countries that have been successful in increasing their inward exploration investment. Such procedures as relinquishing of all data to the state by companies that have ceased their operations, and also continual data collection exercises by the state. This means continuation of geological mapping in unmapped areas, continuation of soil geochemical sampling in areas that have not been sampled, and conducting of additional regional geophysical surveys. The conclusion of this research report simply agrees with Hronsky, 2016 who states “Give them data and they will come”.