11 years ago SMEDG hosted the last Asia Update mineral exploration symposium. Judging by the quality of the symposium notes and my memories of the venue, times were tough. As testimony to the captivating nature of mineral exploration, all but one of the ten speakers from 11 years ago are still active in the industry. We are grateful to a hopeful explorer from the 5pm session in April 1992 for today’s keynote address. Mike Diemar wrote in his 1992 abstract that:
Success in Thailand will only be achieved by those with great determination and a long term policy.
About ten years before Mike’s comments, I was at a planning meeting of a major Australian exploration and mining company. We were told that Thailand was rated low in terms of prospectivity for gold because it neither had any historical gold production nor known gold occurrences. Fortunately, the geological potential of the Upper Permian and Triassic volcanic arc sequence in Central Thailand was recognised. Due to a paucity of funds, Mike initiated a low cost soil panning reconnaissance program that did not involve expensive assays. This approach to geochemical exploration was rudimentary even by 1988 standards. It led Mike, however, to recognise that an area around a prominent hill in Pichit Province had all the characteristics of an epithermal gold system. A soil survey led to RAB drilling which, in turn, led to drilling and trenching. Production began in mid 2001 and, as at 30 June 2003, there were approximately one million ounces of gold in Ore Reserves below the hill and at the operating Chatree Gold Mine several hundred metres to the south in an area of corn fields with virtually no outcrop. The operation has brought employment to hundreds of local people and has provided shareholders with dividend rates that are unmatched by most other Australian mining companies. We hope this story will inspire you.
Other talks at that 1992 SMEDG symposium have also proved prophetic. Dave Ransom tried to interest us in Mongolia of all places and specifically mentioned the presence of billion tonne porphyry copper resources. Was anyone listening? Simon Davies spoke about the potential of Laos. His pioneering, and relatively unknown, survey up the Nam Kok River in the Sepon District, in February 1990 yielded four samples of silicified metasediments with an average grade of 6.5 g/t gold. These results were followed up by CRA who, fortunately for Oxiana, decided to divest 80% of its equity in what has become known as the Sepon Project. We hope that today’s talks will be similarly prophetic as those in our 1992 symposium and will provide exploration ideas, strategies and a new motivation to engage the varied and fascinating cultures of Asia in the pursuit of exploration success.
This year SMEDG, in association with the NSW branch of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG), decided that we need to re-focus on Asia. In true SMEDG and AIG tradition we aim to provide inexpensive yet high quality technical presentations. SMEDG tries not to make a profit but we use the remaining funds to provide regular meetings at the NSW Rugby Club at no cost. We also subsidise students or unemployed geologists to come to these symposia. Please consult our web site at https://www.smedg.org.au for details of future meetings or how to join our mailing list.
Today’s symposium is only possible by virtue of a dedicated group of volunteers who belong to SMEDG and AIG. In addition to the Organising Committee, I particularly wish to thank Roger Smyth-King from Contour Graphics for computer graphics and Margaret Greentree at Golden Cross Resources Ltd for organisational assistance. Greg Corbett, Russell Fountain and Cay Mims kindly agreed to each chair a session. Ken Maiden, no doubt, will entertain us with his poetic summary. We particularly thank the speakers and acknowledge the time thay have spent preparing their talks in addition to fulfilling their normal responsibilities.
Costs are kept low due to the generous financial assistance given by our Major Sponsors,
Encom Technology, ALS-Chemex and Placer Dome.