Mineral Exploration

by Ina King (Potgieter) December 12, 2019

As the world’s second largest continent and one with large quantities of mineral endowments, Africa is home to a large proportion of the world’s mined minerals. As such, African countries account for a significant quantity of the world’s reserves of platinum group metals, gold, diamonds, manganese, copper and cobalt, among many others. The location of these mineral deposits is ascertained by mineral exploration, the process of gathering information that assesses the mineral potential of a given area.

What is mineral exploration?

Generally speaking, mineral exploration is an information gathering process that measures or evaluates the mineral potential in a predefined area to find mineral deposits (ore) in commercially viable concentrations. Science Direct defines mineral exploration as an opportunity-based investment venture with high degree of risk associated with each stage of activity*. Key in these two explanations is the use of the words ‘commercially viable’ and ‘investment venture’, both of which point to the primary purpose of exploring where minerals are located – to mine them for profit.

When ore of value is discovered it is known as a mineralised showing and a decision whether or not to proceed with advanced exploration work is made. If so, it is at this stage that ‘exploration’ becomes ‘sampling’, which is more systematic than exploration and has the objective of identifying continuity and consistency in analysis values.

By the time a project is listed on Africa Mining IQ (AMIQ), the bulk of initial mineral exploration has been completed and a mining project plan of action provided. This is not to say that the exploration aspect has been completed. This type of exploration is, by its very nature, an ongoing process.

Why is mineral exploration necessary?

In mining, exploration is the basis of all value creation. It identifies new ore bodies for development; it replenishes reserves depleted through production; and replaces those rendered uneconomic by falling commodity prices. Even companies that choose to grow by acquiring ore reserves rely on the exploration success of other companies**.

According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey – a government agency) in 2018, in order for American’s to maintain their standard of living at today's level of consumption, the average new born infant will need a lifetime supply of: 363 kg of lead, 340 kg of zinc, 680 kg of copper, 1 630 kg of aluminium, 2 000 kg of coal, 14 832 kg of iron, 12 042 kg of clays, 12 797 kg of salt, and 561 593 kg of stone, sand, gravel, and cement.

While these figures are based on Americans’ requirements, they represent (as an example) the astronomical quantities of minerals required for life regardless of where in the world we reside.

Human beings are dependent upon mineral products. Without continued mineral exploration, human kind would quickly deplete its known mineral reserves and life as we know it would cease to exist***. To ensure an adequate supply of required minerals, it stands to reason that new mines and mining sites have to be identified and new mining projects undertaken on a continual basis.

A call to countries and investors

As a mineral rich continent, the respective countries in Africa should be opening their doors to all mining investors, and especially those who are interested in exploring mineral opportunities in undeveloped and under-developed regions.

Mining phases and exploration

The grassroots phase is steeped in exploration studies. Grassroots exploration is used to confirm whether or not the orebody is prospective and it is done in under-explored or previously unexplored areas. Grassroots exploration includes early stage exploration like ‘desk top’ exploration through to perimeter drilling and includes reconnaissance and evaluative forays.

Exploration continues in both the pre-feasibility and feasibility phases, with the former including aeromagnetic/geophysical surveys, mapping, geochemical and soil sampling, first phase drilling, modelling and infill drilling. More often than not, a project will move forward subsequent to completion of the first resource calculation in the prefeasibility phase.

In the feasibility phase, exploration takes the form of improving the identified resource and can include planning of the mine, the required equipment as well as the best mining process methods to use. Environmental impact studies also form part of this exploration process, and their findings will determine the way forward for mining activities.

From 2014 to the end of 2018, Africa Mining IQ had 257 new projects loaded on to its exploration phases. 54 of these were loaded in 2018.

Benefits to Subscribing to AMIQ

AMIQ tracks close to 2,000 projects and mines across Africa. If you want to invest in mining, if you want to invest in Africa, if you provide product or services to mines in Africa, you need AMIQ intel. Subscribers to AMIQ’s mining intelligence database can identify where investor confidence is flourishing.

Africa Mining IQ has created various analysis reports to provide you with an overview of mining projects in Africa by region, mineral type, and plant type. You can use these reports to analyse growth potential in developing commodity markets and better strategically plan your business development efforts. Africa Mining IQ provides a complete project report for each of the over 1 900 African projects we track, including everything from historical and up to the minute commentaries to contact details for suppliers, engineers and mine owners.

AMIQ has 170 company subscriptions, 20% of which are international. It is becoming easier to do business across the globe. AMIQ is for anyone who supplies a product or provides a service to mines. With key contact details, and being in the know in the early stages of project development, you can build meaningful relationships with the right people and position yourself early for a successful bid for mining projects in Africa. Keep a close eye on developing projects aligned to your business and identify projects, with weekly or monthly alerts. Don’t delay, subscribe to AMIQ today and reap the rewards of comprehensive African mining project intelligence.

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