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How Systematic and Consistent Data Collection Can Provide Value for your Exploration Project

Matthew Grimshaw, Christopher Lambert
Monday, January 13, 2020
First presented: 
SRK Insights

“Data! Data! Data! - I cannot make bricks without clay”

The quote from Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Adventure of the Copper Beeches’ (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) provides an excellent analogy for the importance of good data when making informed decisions. In mineral exploration, the systematic and consistent collection of data is crucial for the success of any project.

Teams of geologists are often deployed to collect samples or make observations that influence strategic decisions about the development of a project. Data collection, management and interpretation have always been a fundamental aspect of an exploration geologist’s role but with the increasing availability and abundance of data, ensuring consistency and quality can be a major challenge in modern exploration programmes.

SRK Exploration Services (SRK ES) regularly assist clients in planning and implementing sampling programmes. A recent example includes the collection of 1,200 geochemical soil samples in the Clogau Gold Belt of North Wales. Here, SRK ES was commissioned by Alba Mineral Resources, an AIM-listed junior mining company exploring for hard-rock gold deposits in North Wales, to plan and manage the collection of soil geochemical samples.

Following a review of the project and Alba’s needs, SRK ES developed a digital form through ESRI’s Survey 123 application to allow the field teams to capture the relevant information during the geochemical survey. These forms utilised features such as drop-down menus, geopoint locators and validation criteria to ensure the rapid and controlled collection of exploration data by the geologist making the observations. The application was run on ruggedised smartphones, which were able to withstand the changeable Welsh weather. Data was synchronised to the cloud-based ArcOnline portal each evening, eliminating manual data entry and making the data immediately accessible for off-site review and management. 

This workflow streamlined the data collection process, provided rapid data dissemination and reduced errors from manual data entry. In addition, the Survey 123 application was operated simultaneously by multiple teams with data automatically collated into one database upon synchronisation. The implementation of Survey 123 provided Alba Mineral Resources with a data-rich soil sampling survey that was collected rapidly and efficiently. 

The Survey 123 forms are easily adaptable for any project and have recently been deployed by SRK ES to record the results of an alluvial gold sampling project in West Africa. The application isn’t exclusive to exploration and can be applied to numerous other sectors and industries. The forms can be developed to cater for any standalone data point, enabling the user to collect tabulated data forms, georeferenced photographs or provide the option to collect detailed observations as well.

The Survey 123 application is one example of many smartphone or tablet-based applications available for mineral exploration activities. The use of small, ruggedised and powerful handheld devices, connected to cloud-based data solutions during modern exploration has increased productivity and the underlying quality of data collected. When combined with streamlined data collection and rapid data dissemination, field teams can react quickly to changing circumstances and make critical programme decisions based on the best data possible.

For more information on digital data collection methods for mineral exploration or to discuss how SRK Exploration Services can help your exploration project, please contact Matthew Grimshaw or Christopher Lambert.

SRK Africa