Prospecting is carried out for finding of minerals within the already known and potential ore (productive) fields, zones, basins, localized promising areas of subsurface resources contoured by preceding geological surveying, prognostic and other works.
Scales of prospecting works and respective grid intervals for prospecting observations, measurements and sampling are governed by sizes of expected mineral targets and geological structure of an area, varying 1:25,000 to 1:5,000.
Prospecting operations include prospecting/geological routes, special-purpose detailed geological mapping with drilling of holes and cutting of surface workings, as well as utilization of conventional reasonable set of geological, geophysical, geochemical and other prospecting methods.
Detailed surveys based on more dense grids tailored to sizes of productive bodies of the given geological-commercial type of mineralization shall be performed on a selective basis in the areas with the most high-contrast and comprehensive manifestation of prospecting indicators and mineral (ore) occurrences. Revealed mineral occurrences shall be subjected to detailed sampling, in-depth study of their material composition and assessment of their processing characteristics. Deep holes surveyed with a set of appropriate hole and interhole geophysical measurements shall be drilled for prospecting of minerals forecasted in considerable depths.
Based on the carried out prospecting works, geologically grounded evaluation of prospective resources shall be accomplished, initial geological-economic evaluation (GEE-3) of areas of potential deposits and ore occurrences shall be performed, as well as technical/economic considerations (ТЕC) regarding their possible commercial value and advisability of carrying out further exploration shall be developed.
Target areas for prospecting-evaluation operations include: potential mineral deposits, promising sites of subsurface resources and mineral (ore) occurrences recommended for further geological exploration based on GEE-3.
Main objectives of the prospecting-evaluation operations are rejection of mineral (ore) occurrences unsuitable for commercial mining, preliminary geological-economic evaluation (GEE-2) of commercial value of the discovered mineral deposits and advisability of their commercial mining, preparation of high-priority targets for exploration operations.
Deposits (areas, deposit clusters) which degree of geological and technical/economic certainty secures possibility of determination of all minerals and constituents, prognosticated sizes of mineral bodies, their geological structure, conditions of occurrence, mining and processing of mineral commodity, conditions of marketable products sale with detail level sufficient for correct assessment of their commercial value, shall be regarded as prepared for exploration.
Methodology for prospecting-evaluation works shall be chosen based on features of geological structure and conditions of promising target occurrence, as well as notion about geological-commercial type of the revealed mineralization.
Number of evaluation sections shall be sufficient for determining of general deposit size, as well as dimensions, internal geological structure and occurrence conditions of main bodies of minerals, their quality and properties, content and forms of occurrence of accompanying components.
Metallurgical testwork shall be carried out using laboratory and semi-industrial samples taken from main natural kinds of minerals, considering possible integrated use of the mineral raw materials.
Geological, mining, hydrogeological and other conditions of mineral occurrence and mining shall be studied to a level allowing substantiation (in a quality/quantity manner) of the former design solutions as to deposit opening and development.
Forms and dimensions of ore bodies, mineralization continuity, content inconsistency of main and accompanying valuable components, processing characteristics of minerals and their qualitative indicators shall be evaluated mainly within blocks of detailed surveys singled out at the deposit areas having the most representative mineral manifestations, which occur in geological and mining conditions most favorable for development. Grid intervals for evaluation workings (drillholes) within blocks of detailed surveys shall be sufficient for calculation of commercial reserve categories in the amount of up to 20-30% of the total explored reserves.
Prospecting-evaluation works at small deposits of very common minerals, which geological structures are not very complicated (Groups no. 1-2) shall be combined with exploration, which is carried out in accordance with requirements of the Instruction on Application of the Classification of Mineral Reserves and Resources of the State Fund of Subsurface Resources to Relevant Kind of Minerals. At such deposits, data of detailed geological-economic evaluation (GEE-1) of commercial value of the explored reserves shall be processed and submitted to the State Commission on Mineral Reserves for approval.
At large deposits and deposits of very complicated geological structures (Groups no. 3-4), GEE-2 of commercial value of the explored and preliminarily explored mineral reserves shall be fulfilled based on results of prospecting-evaluation works and feasibility report (FR) on advisability of their commercial development and carrying out of further exploration shall be drawn up.
At deposits of valuable minerals having the most complicated geological structures, FR on advisability of further exploration, including pilot-commercial mining of a deposit (accumulation) shall be drawn up based on preliminarily explored reserves and prospective resources. Materials of a GEE-2 of the discovered mineral deposit in the form of FR shall be submitted to a Customer (who ordered the geological exploration) for consideration or to the State Commission on Mineral Reserves for approbation and inclusion to the reserve of the State Fund of Mineral Resources.
Exploration of mineral deposits
Target areas for exploration may be preliminarily studied mineral deposits (areas) recommended for exploration based on positive results of prospecting-evaluation works, preliminarily explored areas at mineral deposits, which are mined, mineral deposits (areas) explored earlier but not subjected to commercial development for various reasons. Exploration operation in the target areas explored earlier can be carried out many times – pursuant to a justified demand for additional study of available mineral reserves.
Parts of mineral deposits planned for mining by individual business entities, shall be considered as separate targets of exploration operations.
Exploration carried out at the expense of state budget is being curtailed and performed only at the target areas included in the State Program of the Country’s Mineral Raw Material Base Development for the Nearest Future. Economic efficiency of commercial development of mineral deposits (areas) subjected to exploration shall be substantiated by the FR materials.
As in recent years, exploration of mineral deposits in future will be carried out by orders and at the expense of interested companies, which possess exploration or mining licenses.
Exploration is carried out with the aim of mineral deposits (areas) preparation for commercial development in accordance with requirements of the Classification of Mineral Reserves and Resources of the State Fund of Mineral Resources and determination of starting data for elaboration of designs for construction of minerals mining and processing facilities established or renovated based on the explored reserves.