By Chantal Hunter
TGI-4 Goals include training highly qualified professionals
It’s hard to imagine modern life without minerals and metals — every day, we all use and rely on an enormous range of products made from them. Yet in keeping up with the constant demand for these resources, discovering major new mineral deposits at or near the earth’s surface has become increasingly challenging. But now, thanks to funding provided by Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) Targeted Geoscience Initiative-4 (TGI-4) and program collaboration with the provincial and territorial geological surveys, industry experts will have access to the specialized geoscientific information they need in order to develop new ways of accessing deeper mineral deposits.
This 3-D geological model is one example of the innovative techniques developed under TGI. Source: E. Schetselaar, S. Pehrsson, D. White and C. Devine 2009.
The fourth phase of a highly successful minerals program that began over a decade ago, TGI-4 will create numerous opportunities in Canada and also help improve our global competitiveness while attracting international investment.
Previous TGI programs focused largely on supporting exploration for base metals in and around established mining communities. TGI-4 has a much broader mandate: to enhance geoscience knowledge in support of exploration for various types of hidden mineral deposits in areas of the highest known mineral potential, including both established and emerging mining camps in Canada.
A Decade of Funding Exploration
Over the last decade, Canada has accounted for the largest single global investment in mineral and metal exploration dollars. But despite intensive industry efforts, there have been no corresponding increases in either discovery rates or levels of Canadian metal production. As a result, there is a real need for new, innovative knowledge and techniques in order to discover the untapped mineral deposits that lie far below the earth’s surface.
Evolving Geoscientific Research
Each of the past and present minerals-related geoscience programs was designed to achieve particular outcomes defined by their specific mandates. Thus, the five-year, $100-million Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program aims to gain a better understanding of resource potential through the regional geological mapping of the North to modern standards. In the case of TGI-4, this five-year, $25-million program is based on a more focused and closely targeted approach, one that centres on ore systems.
Ore System Approach
Importance of Understanding Ore Systems
More effective exploration for buried deposits in established and emerging camps requires a better understanding of the processes that create the physical markers that surround these hidden resources. An ore system as a whole is developed though the circulation of hot, metal-bearing fluids through the earth’s crust. This fluid migration and collection within a trap zone where the metals are deposited leaves a distinctive halo of altered rock many times the size of the deposit. By recognizing and understanding the various features — unique size, morphology, composition and internal zonation — of these halos, industry is better equipped to evaluate the commercial potential of the hidden deposits.
Impact on the Exploration Industry
A more refined knowledge of Canada’s major economic ore systems will have the direct practical results of better exploration techniques, methods and strategies. And more effective exploration in turn will lower the inherent risks associated with deep exploration, thereby reducing discovery costs.
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