Mining IQ recently interview Neil Richardson, P. Geo. Chief Operating Officer. In this interview Neil speaks frankly about new advancements in exploration technology as well as the impact of VTEM on their current projects.
What is your role at VMS and experience?
I am the COO and oversee all the exploration for VMS. I have over 24 years’ experience in the exploration and mining business – in Manitoba as well as Ontario. I have also worked in the volcanic terrain up in Manitoba for the last 18 years.
How and why did you embark on a career in mining?
I started off in a small mining town and got involved in staking claims and helping the guys blaze and cut lines and that got me interested in the geology side of things. From there I went to college and got my geology certificate and my career in the industry.
In terms of exploration – can you comment on insights from your current projects?
With respect to our Reed Copper project – which is our flagship project – we are currently under JV with HudBay Minerals. Percentage wise it splits 70% them and 30% us. We are carried to production in that project, and have recently announced a preliminary feasibility study that came out early earlier in the year. We are delighted to have shown the project is robust, so we are looking forward to production in early 2014 and reaping some of the benefits for the next 6-7 years of production.
Are you using VTEM technology on these projects and why?
The Reed Copper deposit was a VTEM(Versatile Time-domain electromagnetic) anomaly discovery. There are lots of systems out there (we use Geotech’s platform) to choose from so you have to determine which one is right for you. What mattered to us was a good noise to data ratio so you don’t get a lot of noise in the data. We selected on that basis and continue to use it.
What is VTEM technology? And why is it revolutionizing the way you and others are conducting your exploration activities?
It works by using a very low flying and slow flying helicopter that charges a current into the ground and that current generates an electromagnetic field.
The sulphides themselves are conductors and generate their own EM field – and then when the current is cut off the sulphide bodies emit their own electrical current decay field and that’s how anomalies are measured. Where sulphides are not present, no electrical field is present, therefor no anomaly, but when you fly over a sulphide body (or even graphite) they emit their own EM field, so you can detect these EM anomalies.
Massive sulphide bodies are very conductive and have little to no resistance. It’s like having a piece of wire except it’s in a rock mass and that’s how well the EM current will flow.
How does that affect exploration activities?
These anomalies are unusual and when we find them we are then able to plan our drilling. Graphite also is a good conductor and this presents a challenge for a geologist who has to differentiate between graphite and sulphide anomalies. There is no geophysical way to differentiate between the two types of anomalies.. However, there are a number of ways you can assess a target – look at historical drilling in the area, regional geology etc. that might help prioritise some targets.
Also a lot of the deposits are occurring with a magnetic anomaly too and you can also use that as criteria to assist you in deciding which target to drill first. So you can decide to drill where there is EM and Mag or just EM. Chances are that you will go with the EM and Mag target first.
Using this technology you are able to be more focused and targeted with your exploration activities?
Exactly. It also helps to hone in on your property package significantly. If you are looking for VMS (volcanic hosted massive sulphide deposits) in particular areas where there are no anomalies tell you that the top 200 – 300 metres of the rock formations don’t have any EM anomalies, therefore no massive sulphides, so very quickly you can look at just focusing on select regions in your property packages. It helps with efficiency and productivity of exploration.
It tells you that there is something interesting there / something out of the ordinary and something electromagnetically is causing that anomaly and response. It could be a mix of many things – it could be a mixture of sulphide bodies, or sulphide bodies with graphite or mixture of sulphide bodies with ore bearing minerals. If you are above the Paleozoic cover (dolomite) then you can prospect your targets, but if they are below the dolomititic rock you are forced to drill it or apply soil geochemistry over the top of the anomalies to see if you can decipher the responses.
What’s the potential for VTEM in terms of future opportunities?
It’s going to become more widely used. Lots of systems are now out there and they are all really applicable and useful. These guys will be able to generate more powerful instruments and work on the data to noise ratio – and with that in mind we might be able to see a bit deeper with more surveys. Also if we have VTEM anomalies we are able to go over the ground and do ‘time domain EM survey’s – and this means that we can generate even deeper power because you are actually on the ground generating large loops of EM current to detect deposits.
Any final tips and tricks you’d like to share based on your experience of using this type of survey technology?
No tricks but some tips…always match your survey method to your deposit model especially geophysically. If you are looking for massive sulphide you should always use EM. You might even want to look at some frequency EM surveys instead of just time domain EM but match the method to your deposit model. Also be clear on the type of target you are looking for.
Mining IQ thanks Neil.For more information about VMS Ventures please visit: http://www.vmsventures.com/
More about Neil:
Neil has over 24 years’ experience in mineral exploration and mining operations of base metal and precious metal deposits throughout Canada. Neil was most recently the Manager of Exploration for Murgor Resources Inc. where he was responsible for delineation of two projects to National Instrument 43-101 compliant mineral resource estimates, project generation, process discipline and corporate growth strategies. Prior to joining Murgor in 2006, Neil worked for HudBay Minerals Inc as a Senior Exploration Geologist responsible for greenfield and brownfield projects in the Flin Flon – Snow Lake area. He was part of a team that discovered a number of new mineralized zones throughout the belt. He also has past experience as a Senior Mine Geologist with extensive background in resource – reserve estimations and operations. He is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba.