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This study focuses on the value of geoscientific information and knowledge, as provided in published government bedrock geological maps, to the mineral exploration sector. An economic model is developed that uses an attribute-ranking approach to convert geological maps into domains of mineral favourability. Information about known deposits in these (or analogous) favourability domains allow the calculation of exploration search statistics that provide input into measures of exploration efficiency, productivity, effectiveness, risk, and cost stemming from the use of the published geological maps.
Two case studies, the Flin Flon Belt (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) and the south Baffin Island area (Nunavut), demonstrate that updated, finer resolution maps can be used to identify more exploration campaign options, and campaigns that are more efficient, more effective, and less risky than old, coarser resolution maps when used as a guide for mineral exploration. The Flin Flon Belt study illustrates that an updated, coarser resolution bedrock map enables improved mineral exploration efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness by locating 60% more targets and supporting an exploration campaign that is 44% more efficient. Refining the map resolution provides an additional 17% reduction in search effort across all favourable domains and a 55% reduction in search effort in the most favourable domain. The south Baffin Island case study projects a 40% increase in expected targets and a 27% reduction in search effort when the updated, finer resolution map is used in lieu of the old, coarser resolution map. On southern Baffin Island, the economic value of the updated map ranges from CAD 2.28 million to CAD 15.21 million, which can be compared to the CAD 1.86 million that it cost to produce the map (a multiplier effect of up to eight).
The authors demonstrate that updated geological information, as contained in maps, can extend the area of exploration interest by assigning more land to the favourable domains (as in the Cape Smith Belt and south Baffin Island case studies) or significantly narrow the search to increase the target density (as in the Flin Flon Belt case study). Either way, exploration risk is reduced and exploration campaign efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness increased, and consequently updated, finer resolution map information is more likely to attract exploration investment to the region than old, coarser resolution map information. This explains why explorations will preferentially invest in jurisdictions with updated public geoscience information. The south Baffin Island case study demonstrates that the stimulated private sector exploration investment can exceed the original government expenditure by as much as a factor of eight.