Mineral Commodities Ltd (ASX:MRC) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Horizon 2020 Smart Exploration Project to form a geoscientific collaboration focused on mineral exploration, including the exchange of technology applications, education and training.
The Smart Exploration’s primary aim is to develop geophysical methods and instruments to be used separately and/or jointly for exploration in near-mine environments at deeper exploitation depths (eg 300-1500m) with common Earth 3D geo-models.
The Smart Exploration Project will develop:
- new and more environmentally sensitive exploration technologies (new prototypes); and
- algorithms (2D and 3D) and how-to solutions for innovative multi-method approaches to model/reprocess existing or new geophysical/geological data, that are capable of identifying deep targets for detailed exploration.
The EU-funded Smart Exploration is a three-year €5.3 million project primarily focused on developing new, innovative methods and technologies for deep exploration targets.
The Smart Exploration consortium consists of 27 partners from nine different countries, with six exploration test sites to date. Most of the work is considered near-mine or brownfields exploration, which has provided extensive legacy datasets to test new geophysical algorithms and integrate the various data into new interpretations.
The Smart Exploration Project has resulted in five new prototypes and six new solutions for deep deposit characterisation and imaging.
MRC, through its 90% owned subsidiary, Skaland Graphite AS, operates the largest producing graphite mine in Europe and the highest-grade flake graphite project in the world. Skaland is located on the island of Senja, in northern Norway, about 50km south-west of Tromsø, the third-largest city north of the Arctic Circle.
In July 2020, as a part of a broader strategy to secure new graphite deposits and expand future production at Senja, MRC entered into a binding agreement to explore the Bukken prospect, the largest known continuous graphite anomaly in Norway.
In January 2021, MRC added a further two landowner agreements to explore the Hesten and Vardfjellet graphite prospects, which are situated 2.5km apart and located 4km to the west of the Bukken prospect.
All three prospects were identified by the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) through regional helicopter-borne geophysical surveys (NGU, 2017). Detailed geological mapping, including structural mapping, sampling and assaying, was undertaken in 2003, 2016 and again in 2018 for all prospects.
The graphite mineralisation is hosted by early Proterozoic schists and gneisses of the Western Troms Basement Complex. Graphite mineralisation occurs as strongly folded bands of enriched graphitic schist/gneiss within a host of non-graphitic schist/gneiss. The geology and mineralogy of the graphite-bearing rock is similar to that observed at the Skaland Graphite Operation.
The company intends to commence an exploration programme in the June quarter 2021, comprising further ground-based geological mapping and sampling to determine higher grade locations to target drilling.
MRC and the Smart Exploration consortium will initially collaborate to apply a high-resolution 2D surface seismic and UAV mag-EM survey (a technology developed by the Smart Exploration Project) for drilling target delineation over the Bukken, Hesten and Vardfjellet graphite prospects. MRC will initially make an in-kind contribution and work with Smart Exploration to improve exploration outcomes and expand knowledge on existing ore deposits.