Applying New Methodologies to Ensure the Next Big DiscoveryMon, 10/22/2018 - 16:11
To attract more exploration investment into the country, the Mexican Geological Survey (SGM) strengthened its information provision services and released a consultation system called Geoinfomex. Thanks to these efforts, Ricardo Valls, President of Valls Geoconsultant, believes that Mexico has one of the best geological information systems in the world. “It is a pity that local companies are not taking better advantage of the rich information that exists in the country,” he says.
SGM is in charge of five basic programs that focus on making metallic and nonmetallic mineral resources profitable through geological information infrastructure and research, among other services. Its goal is to generate the most recent and thorough geological information ever published in Mexico. Geoinfomex displays geological information on a single site with over 80 layers of data and is the first of its kind in Latin America.
Along with the advantage of geological information, Valls says that processes in Mexico are not as slow as many companies often say they are. “I have experience working in many countries and I find that Mexico is quite fast in comparison to these,” he says. “In Colombia, we applied for nine licenses four years ago and have not received a response. It can sometimes be slower than Cuba. This forced us to invest our money elsewhere. We would love to work in Mexico if our hands were not tied to a big project in Colombia.”
Valls Geoconsultant specializes in geological research and has innovative solutions to reduce the expenses and time frames of drilling and exploration. According to Valls, the traditional method of exploring sites step by step is outdated. “It may work sometimes to test your luck and cut corners but this approach will be a lot more expensive and time consuming in the long run. We have seen companies use this strategy to jump start a drilling program based on the results of a neighboring license without doing any other exploration work, and of course the results were catastrophic.” He firmly believes it is much better to incorporate a systematic method that thoroughly analyzes the site before drilling.
The company assures that it will not drill a single hole until it is sure that the hole will intersect the target. “We do not drill to explore but to verify,” Valls says. “Our method can help companies save up to 50 percent on exploration programs.”
Valls Geoconsultant calls its methodology “Lineament Analysis” and is working to introduce it to other countries. “It is important to change our mindsets and processes because although it is very easy to extract ore from a mine until the end of its lifecycle, the way the industry thinks needs to be realigned to the reality of the sector to guarantee new projects,” he says. “We need technology and better thinking to discover the next largest projects.”
Despite the need for new projects and the effects of the last downturn, the number of attendees at PDAC 2018 could be a good sign for the industry, Valls says. “PDAC is a great way to measure the well-being of the industry,” he adds. “Metal prices are improving and even though the industry is still in need of capital, people are optimistic. I hope that the public sector learns how to treat the mining industry to reactivate exploration as companies are hungry for new projects.”
One area hindering exploration worldwide is the lack of new projects. “The last downturn caused big companies to focus only on acquiring producing mines,” Valls says. “There was not enough capital for exploration and this means that companies in the industry do not have enough exploration projects to turn into producing mines.” Due to the lack of both supply and new discoveries, he estimates that the price of gold could rise to US$1,800/oz.