Mineral exploration is the initial stage of the mining cycle. It is a sequential process of information gathering that assesses the mineral potential of a given area. In simple words it is the search for mineral deposits. The reason of exploration is to trace a new source of metal or useful minerals. This includes industrial minerals like silica or clay minerals, metals like iron, lead, zinc, etc., and precious metals and gemstones like gold and diamonds.
Types of Mineral Exploration
·”Grassroots” exploration involves looking for a deposit in an area where the mineral or metal has never been found till date. ·Brownfield exploration is the search for any traces of additional deposits near an identified mine. ·On-mine-site exploration is about expanding a mineral resource that has been found beforehand and developed on the property of an existing mine.
Mineral Exploration Process
It is the search for mineral deposits and starts with an idea or geologic model that identifies lands worthy of advance exploration. It basically includes prospectors walking the around examining and mapping rock types and collecting rock and soil samples by hand for either mineral or laboratory analysis.
Mining Claim Staking
It is exercised in all the countries as a way of indicating to the government the area that a company wishes to explore further in detail. The license required to stake a claim can be applied for at a mining recorder’s office. Once a claim is staked and approved by the appropriate government agency, it gives the company the exclusive right to explore that section of ground for a specific time.
Once a claim has been staked and based on the results of its initial prospecting work, the company will come to a decision on whether to carry on with more detailed exploration. Many minerals are buried deep beneath soil so to test if minerals are present advanced techniques are used such as geophysical and geochemical surveys, and diamond drilling programs are also used.
Sampling and Drilling
If earlier stages suggest that there is the probability of a mineral deposit underground, the exploration company now might be able to sample that rock to calculate approximately the extent and form of that mineral deposit. The samples are then sent to laboratories for testing and the company will analyze the results.