On 18th May 2000 a talk was given to SMEDG by Dr. David Lowell titled “How Orebodies are found”. Dr.Lowell has been closely involved in the discovery of several world class mineral deposits but the things he had to say during his talk created a large degree of controversy in the local exploration community. In particular his insistence that modern technological advances in exploration had not led to new discoveries in the same way that “boot leather” had done in the past drew a considerable amount of comment. Many people agreed with his arguments but many also pointed out that the mines discovered by prospecting in the past were often in virgin ground and such ground no longer exists, hence the need for advanced technology for modern exploration.


The aim of the SMEDG/AIG Symposium is to provide a forum for discussion in the mineral exploration community and any topic which spontaneously generates differing opinions is welcome and is likely to be taken up for further development.


In recent years a number of ‘high tech’ developments have appeared in the exploration world. The use of detailed geophysical surveys as a tool in mapping is now widely accepted. We have recently witnessed the in-house development by BHP of their ‘Falcon’ airborne gravity system, the development by Normandy of the ‘Hoistem’ helicopter electromagnetic mapping system and Mount Isa Mines has developed the ‘MIMDAS’ ground geophysical system. Numerous advanced geochemical techniques have appeared over the last few years and even the use of the ‘SHRIMP’ system for dating rocks has had an effect on the way exploration programs are run by providing accurate dating for geological models.


Where do these new developments sit relative to the concepts of systematic prospecting espoused by David Lowell? Are we really wasting our money seeking ‘high tech’ solutions to problems which could more readily be solved by a simple systematic ‘low tech’ approach or are we going to be left behind by ignoring the vast quantities of relatively cheap information which can be obtained using modern technology?


It was consideration of this topic which generated the theme for this year’s SMEDG/AIG Symposium. When the organising committee formed to consider this, a number of sub themes developed including ‘Should companies joint venture into or out of prospects or should they go it alone?’ or ‘ Is it better to prospect steadily with a small long term budget or use large budgets to chase the most obvious targets in the hope of developing a mine quickly?’.  These and other questions were combined into the one overall theme for the Symposium of ‘Exploration Strategies - Which work, Which don’t and Why?’


The speakers invited to contribute at this Symposium consist of people who will advocate both the ‘high tech’ and the ‘boot leather’ approaches. The organising committee have attempted to get a broad range of views on the other sub themes and also views from both small and large corporations. There has also been an effort to have speakers who can give a historical view on exploration strategies that have worked (or not) in the past.  The degree of interest from prospective speakers has been fantastic. Clearly this is a hot topic in these difficult times for the exploration industry.


As with previous SMEDG/AIG Symposia we have had a hardworking organising committee and I take this opportunity to thank them for their efforts. Anyone who has been involved in the organisation of an event such as this will know that there is a considerable amount of work involved and the dedicated teamwork of the committee, who are all volunteers, makes this event possible.


We have had a loose association with the ASEG (NSW branch) in the organisation of the Symposium with a view to running some form of joint conference or symposium in the future.  I also to thank our sponsors for their support, Roger Smyth-King of Contour Graphics for help with the artwork, Golden Cross Resources for administrative assistance and particularly, the speakers for the time and effort they put into making this an interesting and successful Symposium.



Steve Collins – Organising Committee Chairman                                                April 2001