- Category: Preparation of standard Geological Procedures Manuals
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PREPARATION OF STANDARD GEOLOGICAL PROCEDURES MANUALS
Eric Roodt Pr. Sci. Nat
The purpose of the formulation of Geological Procedures Manuals is to ensure that the data collected is compliant with the codes of practice.
Compliance with what?
JSE, TSE, ASX, etc.
Because these are the rules of the game… and the Dollar rules.
Typical Problem areas:
Level of geological logging
Geological interpretation & geological models
Inaccurate survey (collars & down-hole)
Inadequate geological reporting
Broken audit trail
Not representative (geology, analyses, sampling)
Lack of QA/QC
Verification of data
Definitive master copy
Up to date
You must be able to demonstrate clearly that none of the problems above exist, and that you comply with the applicable codes and regulations.
Now, how do we ensure that we comply in the field, and demonstrate our compliance?
Step by step... and by doing the paperwork.
When does compliance start?
The moment you start gathering any factual data that will be used to value the mineral property (this may include a sale, Joint Venture, or fund raising for further work), or you have to report to shareholders (if the mineral project belongs to a listed company).
If we consider this carefully, it becomes very clear that compliance starts right at the beginning of an exploration project. In fact, to ensure we get it right, we should build compliance into all mineral projects at the planning stage, before any exploration work is done.
In terms of data quality, the most exacting stage of a mineral project is a full feasibility to bankable standards. Even though we all know that very few mineral projects progress that far, it is proper to plan and carry out all technical work to the standards required for a feasibility study. By keeping the project “bankable” throughout its lifespan, we not only ensure an eventual trouble-free feasibility, but we also keep the project in a perpetual state of “tradeability”. And by doing so we ensure that the owner (client) can at any time receive maximum value in the event of a business deal.
The items which comprise a feasibility study can be broadly grouped into the following categories:
Country environment (stability, history of mining etc)
Exploration data gathering
Geotechnical and hydrological investigations
Operating cost estimates
Capital cost estimates
Project risk analysis.
All mining projects have inherent risks, which can be broken down into the following:
Technical (Geological) risk
A Standard Geological Procedures Manual documentation concentrates on procedures that can be used to mitigate technical (Geological) risk and discusses the methods of data collection and associated quality control procedures that should be adopted in order to enhance the 'bankability' of the project and minimise the need for expensive and time-consuming remedial work, including multiple audits.
The term 'bankable' is used frequently but is quite imprecise. In general terms, if a project is approved for funding by the credit committee of a bank, then the project is 'bankable'. The term has generally come to mean that a feasibility study is sufficiently detailed and robust such that financial analyses can be made with a relatively high level of confidence, resulting in bank finance becoming available assuming an acceptable IRR. Even a financially extremely robust deposit requires a detailed feasibility study in order to demonstrate the technical parameters relating to project development.
All banks will obtain an independent technical opinion of the project. These technical reviews can result in the banks demanding remedial work such as drilling for geotechnical information, further metallurgical test-work or a re-estimation of the resources, depending on the advice that they receive. It is therefore important that the project economics are based on sound technical data that can be demonstrated to be of low risk.
In simplistic terms, the types of technical data that are required for a successful feasibility study are listed below:-
Drilling and sampling
Many of these data types can and should be collected to international best practice from the start of the project, even if there is no current resource identified. Exploration should be carried out with a view to subsequent resource modelling, mining studies and metallurgical test-work, and all data should be collected and compiled in order to allow easy access and interpretation by third parties who may not be as familiar with the project. This extends from assaying for arsenic or other potentially problematic elements during the initial soil sampling programmes, through to the assessment of potential acid mine drainage during logging and assaying.
Once the project moves into resource status, however, it becomes imperative that sufficient data are collected as soon as possible such that the project advances into pre-feasibility and feasibility status as smoothly as possible.
A successful feasibility study is dependent on sound geological interpretation and a robust and sensible resource model. The resource estimate and the classification of that estimate are in turn dependent on thorough data collection that can be demonstrated to be of high quality.
Many of these data types will represent the most likely outcomes during project development and production. Assay and density data, for instance, can never be absolute precise values, and the way in which these data are collected and compiled will have a material impact on the resource estimate and the ultimate success of the feasibility study.
IGS in conjunction with the Exploration manager, project managers and site geologists can assist in the formulation, compilation and documentation of Geological Procedures Manuals, both broad based to incorporate the majority of projects and manuals and/or amendments specific to each project.
Such Geological Procedures Manuals incorporate the methodologies, techniques, definition, data capture, QA/QC, interpretation, implementation, interrogation, verification, presentation, documentation, reporting and protocols for:-
1. Planning of the Exploration Programme.
2. Relevance to the Codes of Practice for the Estimation of Resources & Reserves.
3. Remote sensing.
4. GIS data capture and formulation of base plans.
5. Field geological mapping.
6. Geochemical surveys, including orientation grids, QA/QC and statistical evaluation.
7. Preparation of Geological Reports – format & recommendations.
8. Drilling Programmes – relevance, gridded, wild cat, types & contractors.
9. Geological Logging of Core or Drill Chips – formats, appropriateness, relevance.
10. Core Recovery, RQD and SG determinations.
11. Core Yard Procedures – storage, cataloguing.
12. Core Sampling Procedures – cutting, contamination, numbering, controls, CRM’s, documentation, sign-off.
13. Sample Dispatch – collation, controls, security, sign-off.
14. Analytical Laboratories – choices, accreditation, procedures, turn-around times, results formats.
15. Referee Laboratory.
16. Certified Reference Material (CRM) – selection, source, certification, material matrix match, insertion regularity.
17. Assay Result handling.
18. Assay Verification –re-submission of blind pulps, percentage.
19. Database Management.
20. Database Management Software – selection, amenability to other software.
21. QA/QC Monitoring – statistics, graphics.
Integrated Geological Solutions (Pty) Ltd
Reg. No. 2006/015684/07
V.A.T. No. 4960230177