Refining mining information
Governments and industry team up to provide better mining data analysis

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 08/99) - The GNWT is involved in a project called Extech to improve information on where gold deposits are in the Yellowknife area.

"Governments are not looking for a mine themselves, but they're looking to improve their information in this area so people can find more mines," said Hendrik Falck, who is a mineral deposit geologist with the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.

Falck is working on the Extech project, which is a joint project involving RWED, the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Geological Survey of Canada and private companies, Miramar Mining Corp., and until recently, Royal Oak Mines.

Falck estimates the cost of the four-year effort is about $1 million a year including raw funding and donations in kind from the five contributors.

There are 25 geologists from across Canada who are working on different Extech projects, which combine to provide better analysis as to where gold, lead and zinc finds are.

One researcher, for example, is taking till samples and then determining how a glacier would have moved across the land. With that information, the location of potential kimberlite pipes becomes clearer, according to Falck.

"By using all sorts of layers of information, we can sometimes see patterns that we couldn't see before," he said.

"Some results will be available and we'll present them at a geoscience forum hosted by the Chamber of Mines in November."

Falck said the idea for the project came three years ago, when he was working as an exploration geologist with Royal Oak Mines.

"Basically we came to the conclusion that we could be in serious trouble in the future where both mines are old mines. Fifty-year-old mines are rare in Canada. They usually don't last that long," he said.

Falck said much exploration work within about a 100-kilometre radius of Yellowknife was last done in the 1960s, and since then there have been many changes in how exploration work is done.

"This is not the kind of thing that we'll find a mine tomorrow," Falck said.

"But it will help us find a mine 10 years from now."

Falck said chemical analysis have become more computerized and it is easier to generate a lot of analysis for lower costs.

"While in the 1960s you might analyze one rock for its chemistry, now you would do 100 rocks for the same price and get far more accurate and better results for the money."