The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
A Laurentian University professor will help lead a $12-million research project to develop new ways to discover deep ore and mineral deposits.
Michael Lesher, research chair in mineral exploration and professor of economic geology at Laurentian, and Mark Hannington, Goldcorp chair in economic geology and professor of earth sciences at the University of Ottawa, will co-lead the project, which has been dubbed Footprints.
“It’s certainly the largest mineral exploration project ever run in Canada,” Lesher told The Sudbury Star on Tuesday. Footprints will involve researchers from 24 universities across the country and 27 industry partners, who will provide logistical and technical support. “It’s truly an incredibly consortium of people working together,” Lesher said.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council granted $5.1 million to the project and industry partners contributed an additional $7 million.
Lesher said most new ore discoveries will be deep underground. Deposits like the Ring of Fire (located in northwestern Ontario), which are almost outcropping from the Earth, represent the exception to the rule, he said. Mining exploration companies will need new technologies and methods to discover deeper ore bodies.
Lesher used the analogy of a submarine to describe the difficulties deep ore bodies pose. When it is closer to the surface of the water, it is relatively easy to spot, but as it dives deeper it can get lost in the vast ocean.
As with submarines, the qualities that differentiate an ore body from surrounding rock, such as variations to Earth’s magnetic field, become more subtle and difficult to detect when the ore body is deeper underground.
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