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Prospecting and exploration strategies

Discuss about the Methods in Mineral Exploration and Mining.

Prospecting is ideally the initial stage of geological analysis and involves searching for mineral, special metals, fossils or even mineral specimens physically.  It is a form of mineral exploration that is done on a small scale and is an organized large-scale effort that is done by mineral companies in a bid to establish the commercial viability of ore deposits. Mineral exploration is the step by step process by which information on the mineral potential of a region is collected (Böhmer, 2013, p.189). The sequence begins with an idea or a geologic model that identifies land that can be further explored after which the appropriate target areas are stakes as mineral claims before mineral rights are secured.

Improve the comprehension of the effects of widespread igneous activity on the surface of the earth
  • Provide a framework for the exploitation of viable mineral sites and deposits
  • Find out regional scale vectors for mineralization(Marjoribanks, 2014, p.166)
  • Map geochemical and alteration footprints under mineral cover

Planning: Involves collecting and analyzing the information that is available in the public domain on the potential exploration areas. This is aimed at identifying the areas that have explorable potential interest.

Recording of Mineral Claims: This involves securing of mineral rights which are done by staking and recording mineral claims with the necessary authorities (Revuelta, 2017, p.152).

Reconnaissance: This is a strategy to identify the possible anomalies that show the presence of mineralization in the identified areas during the stages of planning. These anomalies are used as the targets for further exploration.

Sampling and Assaying: Sampling involves collecting part of the mineral deposit while assaying dealing with the tests aimed at determining the metallic contents of a rock sample. This strategy is done at different stages.

Economic Evaluation: This estimates the operating costs and the capital needed for a mine. It also establishes the expected revenue returns from the ore deposits, the lifespan of the mine and the costs of post-closure rehabilitation (Hinze, 2013, p.162).


Name of mine site/ Geographical locality of the mine site

Principal shareholding company

Mode of formation

ore-bearing rock type

commercial use



Castle Maine Goldfield

Transformation of the common metals of the earth by sun rays

Veins and reefs

Making jewelry and other decorative items


Omya Australia Pty Ltd/ Rock Hampton

Nuplex Industries Limited

Occur in rocks of shelf origin


Manufacture of cement, glass

New South Wales

Glandell Coal Mine/ Glandell

Yanzhou Coal Mining Company

Conversion of dead plant matter to peat


Generation of electricity

Western Australia

Agnew Gold Mine/Leinster

Gold Fields

Gold-bearing fluids on sites

Veins and reefs

Making jewelry and other decorative items

South Australia

Angas Zinc Mine/Adelaide

Terramin Australia Ltd

Occurs as a primary ore


Manufacture of a range of products including paint, cosmetics, rubber etc

Following the impact of mining n the environment, environmental authorizations are a fundamental requirement in all the stages of development in the operations of mining. There are standards approvals that are always offered at the beginning of the early stages of operations in order to ensure that there are minimal disturbances caused to the land. Still more sophisticated approval is a need in cases where more invasive operations areas or in very sensitive environments (Marjoribanks, 2010, p.147).

Prospection and exploration projects that call for sophisticated environmental issues need statements on environmental impact which will be elaborate studies, community consultation, assessments as well as an extensive environmental management plan. The authority in charge of the environment is granted the powers to make such approvals which are normally issued depending on the conditions surrounding the environmental management plan that has been built.


The provision of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is a legislation that the explorer must be aware of and comply with during the various phases of exploration and prospecting (Hoover, 2017, p.202). This act provides an outline for protection of the Australian environment such as it natural and culturally important places and its biodiversity. It offers a framework for the protection of the nationally and internationally significant fauna, fauna and heritage placed and ecological communities as outlined in the act as matters that constitute national environmental significance. The act provides for a range of processes that are meant to promote and protect the recovery and conservation of the threatened ecological communities and species as well as conserve important places on the verge of declining.  The acts outline seven matters that are considered to be of national environmental significance:

  • Migratory species
  • World Heritage properties
  • Wetlands of international importance
  • National heritage places
  • Commonwealth marine areas(Rogers, 2014, p.110)
  • Nuclear actions; and
  • Threatened species and ecological communities
Exploration Results refer to clear and concise diagrams and maps that are geared towards the representation of the geological context. Included on these maps are the plan view of the drill hole collar location as well as the appropriate views of the sections. There are minimum standards that are provided by the Australian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (Revuelta, 2017, p.177). These standards are aimed at ensuring that the investors and their advisers have at their disposal information that they would need to help them come up with a reliable opinion on the approximations and results that are being reported. Through the JORC code, decision making among the investors and their advisers is highly enhanced and transparency in investment in the mineral sector highly facilitated.

Exploration results include data and information that have been produced by the programs of mineral exploration and are found to be useful to the investor in a way or another but are not part of the declaration of Mineral Resources (Hinze, 2013, p.138). By complying with JORC code in the reporting of exploration results, it means the companies that may wish to publish the results of its exploration follow the guidelines that are provided in the JORC Code specifically under clause 19. Clause 19 provides that the results of public exploration must bear enough information to permit a considered and stable judgment of their importance. It also states that public reports on exploration results must not be presented in such a way that they unreasonably imply the discovery of a potential economic mineralization (Rogers, 2014, p.124).  In the case of reporting assay or analytical results, either of the following methods must be used in doing the reporting as chosen by a competent person: reporting on the weighted average grades of all the mineralized zones, illustrating how the calculations on the grades were done and listing the results alongside the sample intervals.

In the context of JORC code, one is classified as a Competent Person if the person is a member of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy or any other relevant body. The person must have at least five years of working experience with the deposit type or mineralization style that is under consideration and of very high relevance to the activity that the individual is undertaking. An example is where the Competent Person is making a report on Exploration Results. In such a case, the person must be equipped with the relevance experiences in exploration to be considered competent.

Following the impact of mining n the environment

Engineering geology mainly deals with the application of the knowledge on geology to the engineering study with the aim of ensuring that the geological factors among them design, operation, construction, location and maintenance of the engineering works are acknowledged and accounted for (Gocht, 2012, p.197). Engineering geologists are thus ideally tasked with the presentation of geotechnical and geological analyses, designs and recommendations that are in line with human development and the different types of structures. Engineering geologists that conduct both technical and scientific research analysis of groundwater, soil, rocks among other related conditions and establish the most likely impact that will be caused by any construction developments done on such sites.

These professionals provide information to the technical service on the geological factors that have an impact on the various mining activities. This they achieve through conducting an analysis of the materials of the ground and find out their factors thereby provide advice on the best procedures and practices for mineral prospection and exploration process and the suitability of the mining process (Hinze, 2013, p.112). Engineering geologists achieve ensure this information is availed by:

  • Preparing reports
  • Offering advice and information to the miners on numerous issues among them proposed exploration and prospection of the mines
  • Planning and taking investigations on fieldwork or site through the creation of trial pits and boreholes
  • Ascertaining that the projects are completed within the stipulated timelines and budget
  • Assessing and reporting on the strategies of minimizing results from natural and man-made exposure factors in the environment(Bell, 2013, p.188)
  • Gathering, analyzing and interpreting data
  • Accessing, using and analyzing information about the site before site investigations and exploration kicks off

Engineering geologists use various methods in order to obtain the information that they are to share with the technical services division. Among the method include deformation monitoring which is used as a method of systematic measurement and tracking any changes that might have occurred in the dimensions or shape of an object, sampling, excavation and logging of the rock materials of the earth, review on the geologic maps, engineering plans, geologic literature, remote sensing data, GPRS data, geotechnical reports as well as environmental plans (Böhmer, 2013, p.255). They also use geophysical surveys and geologic field mapping of the geologic formations, hazards, soil units and geologic structures.


Bell, F.G., 2013. Engineering Geology and Geotechnics. 3rd ed. New York: Elsevier.

Böhmer, M., 2013. Prospecting and Exploration of Mineral Deposits. 3rd ed. London: Elsevier.

Gocht, W.R., 2012. International Mineral Economics: Mineral Exploration, Mine Valuation, Mineral Markets, International Mineral Policies. 4th ed. Paris: Springer Science & Business Media.

Hinze, W.J., 2013. Gravity and Magnetic Exploration: Principles, Practices, and Applications. 4th ed. Chicago: Cambridge University Press.

Hoover, H., 2017. Principles of Mining: Valuation, Organization and Administration; Copper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Tin and Zinc. 5th ed. Oxford: CHIZINE PUBN.

Marjoribanks, R., 2010. Geological Methods in Mineral Exploration and Mining. 2nd ed. London: Springer Science & Business Media.

Marjoribanks, R., 2014. Geological Methods in Mineral Exploration and Mining. 7th ed. London: Springer Science & Business Media.

Revuelta, M.B., 2017. Mineral Resources: From Exploration to Sustainability Assessment. 3rd ed. New York: Springe.

Rogers, J., 2014. Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip. 4th ed. Manchester: Wiley.

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