Canada has been a leader in mineral exploration and extraction for over 50 years. Canada is the largest single exporter of oil to the United States, and Alberta is the #2 oil supplying region in the world. Mines in Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta extract enormous quantities of aluminum, coal, potash, copper, diamond, gold, nickel, uranium, zinc, oil, and natural gas that are shipped throughout the world. Over half of the world’s 2300 mining related companies are listed on Canadian stock exchanges, and 40% of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada. In 2006 over $440 billion dollars worth of mineral and fuel related natural resources were exported throughout the world.
Mineral exploration is the segment of the industry that is responsible for identifying new assets for mining companies to exploit. Staking a claim and moving to production is a process that can take years. Exploration workers face the most rugged terrains and weather conditions in identifying viable assets.
Before any work on the ground is started extensive research of geological reports and surveys is done to determine where the company will stake its claim. Once a promising area is identified a claim is literally staked out by cutting tree posts at the corners and blazing lines between them. Stakes that are drawn up on a map and reported to a governing office must be dated including a starting and finishing date. At this point prospectors can be sent in to examine the surface rocks. Prospectors carry a special tool with a hoe on one end and a hammer on the other. The hoe is important for clearing underbrush. Rock sampling is done by breaking open rocks and examining them for mineral contents with a magnifying glass. Soil samples are collected on a cut grid or with GPS to be later examined in a lab. All findings are catalogued and recorded. A curious nature is the most important characteristic a prospector must have. It is what drives them to keep looking.
If the samples suggest high mineral content below the surface machines may be brought in for further investigation. Surface vegetation is cleared with a backhoe exposing bedrock. Additional samples are cut from the bedrock with a handheld gas powered diamond blade saw. Most exploration companies are small operations that do not possess the financial resources or backing to bring an asset to profitability. Once all the data is compiled these companies pitch the asset to large mining companies, such as Triple Diamond Energy Corp, with deep pockets and extensive financial backing for a fixed price. In some circumstances they may preserve some property rights or small percentage should one day the claim becomes productive.
The industry does not consist solely of prospectors, but also many other individuals all experts in their fields as it relates to mineral exploration. Specialized financial and legal firms assist with financing, and detailing contracts. Coring and drilling operations assist with the collection of samples. Other companies provide supply and transport solutions, geological surveys, feasibility studies, drilling equipment and maintenance. Development of new technologies is always changing the way mining exploration is carried out.
About the Author: Robert Jent is President & CEO of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy is an independent producer of oil and natural gas. Located in the Dallas area, the company specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties