Article by Jeff Lagerquist, BNN.ca staff
The people behind GroundTruth Exploration Inc. are the Navy SEALS of prospecting. They use innovative technologies to gather precise intelligence. They can work under the harshest conditions deep in the wilderness, almost anywhere in the world, leaving behind virtually no trace. The data they gather can literally be worth millions. And they get the job done with a level of speed and efficiency that threatens to upend the way mineral deposits are found.
Shawn Ryan, principal at GroundTruth relishes the comparison to the elite U.S. fighting force, and says his Yukon Territory-based company’s potent combination of existing technologies newly applied to the prospecting industry can cut exploration costs by 80 percent.
“What would normally cost us two field seasons in the Yukon, and $500,000 to $700,000, we do it in two weeks, any time of the year, for under $100,000,” he said.
That should be music to the ears of producers struggling to rein in costs to survive the major downturn in mining. The prospect of quickly gathering reliable and actionable data should play well given the industry-wide trend towards doing more with less. While coaxing capital from Bay Street isn’t as easy as it once was, Ryan says the “big money” guys are still willing to gamble, just on more sensible bets.
“When you show them this kind of data in this format, they know the probability when they go diamond drill on this. They are going to hit stuff. But prospecting with a diamond drill has come to an end. That’s where we blew a lot of money in this business. The amount of money that was pushed into the business, it was like a drunken party,” he said.
Ryan’s case for a fundamental shift in prospecting is made stronger by his track record. He’s known worldwide within the mineral exploration industry for discovering the multi-million ounce White Gold deposit near Dawson City that was acquired by Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO -0.67%) in 2010.
The usual method of finding gold deposits starts with time-tested soil sampling techniques. If an anomaly is found, the labour and capital intensive process of digging trenches and drilling holes to discover what lies beneath begins.
“We’ve been banging our heads the same old way for the last 30 years. We decided in 2012 when the downturn started to hit. We said, couldn’t we do this a better way? Is there a better way,” he said.
Ryan uses a modified military grade drone from Switzerland to generate a 3-D blueprint of the worksite that geologies can use to identify structures that can’t be seen from the ground, and lets them overlay addition data.
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