TOMORROW’S DISCOVERIES ARE UNDER COVER
New search spaces provide the greatest returns
Across commodities, early explorers into new search spaces have consistently enjoyed the highest returns. The largest discoveries are generally made early in a search space’s lifecycle because large deposits are associated with larger, easier-to-find footprints. On the other hand, exploration in mature search spaces has historically delivered poor returns because once explorers start to exhaust a search space’s residual endowment (no more low hanging fruit), discoveries flatline. This relationship of exploration effort vs. discoveries over time is known as the creaming curve.
For gold explorers, continued focus on mature search spaces has resulted in higher costs and fewer discoveries, as clearly highlighted during the last cycle from 2003 to 2011, where industry exploration expenditures hit all-time highs while discovery rates fell. To lower exploration costs and increase discovery rates, it is time for explorers to again focus on opportunities to open up new search spaces.
Where are the next new search spaces?
Exposed bedrock terranes across the world’s most productive mining jurisdictions have now been well explored, representing mature search spaces with declining rates of discovery and production. Because the conventional exploration tools used to explore in exposed bedrock terranes are poorly suited to exploring in covered bedrock terranes (where you can’t see the rocks), covered bedrock terranes across these important regions remain underexplored, and represent important new search spaces for new discoveries.
The potential for discovering new deposits in the covered bedrock terranes across the world’s major mining jurisdictions presents an incredible opportunity for explorers to expose their stakeholders to the potentially high returns associated with being early entrants into new search spaces; however, in order to be successful, explorers need new technologies, workflows, and experience to improve the odds and lower the costs of exploring under cover.