Advances in mineral exploration are needed to support discoveries.
Citi Research takes a stab at so-called disruptive technologies concerning metals and mining in a recent research report. It’s a nice overview on a number of fronts especially as far as solar and silver, lab-grown diamonds and metal-use in cars go. In short: silver’s there to stay, lab-grown diamonds could disrupt the industry in the years to come (but consumers will decide), and PGMs look solid.
But the report misses, or doesn’t treat, a few areas that deserve some attention. In particular, there was scarce mention of exploration technology, seabed mining and mineral processing.
I won’t go into all these areas here. As it stands, I have some questions out to mineral processing specialists for their thoughts on what technologies or processes stand to have revolutionary (or at least pretty meaningful) impacts on the mining sector. That is, like the impact of heap leaching, what technologies might unlock hitherto uneconomic deposits or cheapen the conventional flow sheet? Seabed mining, I’ve recently touched on, so I won’t go back there right now.
Which leaves us exploration technology to consider.
First, recall why technology that makes it easier or cheaper to find economic metal and mineral deposits is revolutionary stuff: mineral exploration is increasingly expensive and less effective. It’s a subject we’ve touched on before after conversations with researchers on the cutting edge of exploration technology and also in the know when it comes to exploration costs.
There’s some debate over the extent of the decline in mineral discoveries. But suffice it to say it is happening and they are trending deeper, especially in more mature exploration districts. The easy – and cheaper – stuff at surface (but certainly not all of it) has been found.
So discoveries increasingly require more expert geological knowledge featuring, I would emphasize, creativity – along with geophysics, geochemistry and drilling. That drilling is now more an act of faith – or educated gamble – than ever before. Companies have to drill blind beneath cover to test geophysical anomalies they deem prospective or into alteration halos, for example, that they hope might lead to a discovery.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.mineweb.com/regions/canada/what-citi-misses-about-mining-revolutions/