Skip to main content

Passive seismic techniques for environmentally friendly and cost efficient mineral exploration

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PACIFIC (Passive seismic techniques for environmentally friendly and cost efficient mineral exploration)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

"The PACIFIC consortium will develop a new, low-cost and environmentally friendly tool for exploring for mineral deposits beneath the surface. The approach will build on the ""traditional"" passive seismic method, which is capable of providing useful broad-brush background information about the geological and structural setting of mineralised regions, but lacks the resolution needed for reliable identification of ore bodies. Two radically new developments are planned: reflection passive seismic, which is appropriate for greenfields exploration, and the multi-array method, which will typically be deployed during drilling or in brownfields exploration. Both techniques have major advantages over current techniques, namely relatively low cost and minor impact on the environment. Through the participation of two mineral exploration companies in the project, the two techniques will be validated on test sites in Canada and Sweden, thus brought from TRL2 to TRL5. Research on social acceptance and public perception of risk for mining activities will accompany the deployment and testing of the techniques.
The PACIFIC consortium comprises a major university and a research institute which will develop the theoretical background and codes for data treatment, a mid-tier mining company and a junior exploration company which will provide logistics support and access to test sites, two small service companies which will conduct the surveys and analyse the data, a geological survey which will conduct research on public opinion, and a company which will manage the project. The PACIFIC project will thereby transfer the fruits of cutting-edge scientific research to industry and launch the development and deployment of new mineral exploration methods. This will enhance the competitiveness of the European mineral exploration industry, contribute to the discovery of new European ore deposits and decrease the dependence of European industry on imported mineral products."
The PACIFIC project is well on track and activities have been going generally as planned in the first project period:
• Background information was compiled and analysed for use in imaging and data processing during the project.
• New tools related to the extraction of body waves in ambient seismic noise were developed.
• A first survey at the Marathon test site in Canada was conducted: sensors were successfully deployed, data were extracted and are currently being processed.
• A test of ambient seismic noise was performed in Kallak, Sweden, in June 2019. Tests of the multi-array technique will be conducted in the summer of 2020.
• An Environmental, Health, Safety and Risk Management Committee Charter was established and an Environmental and Safety Risk Database has been set up.
• A preliminary study on ways of communicating mining activities was undertaken. A computerised experiment for the survey on public perception of mineral exploration activities was developed and is currently being tested.
• Passive seismic surveys were conducted at the Las Cruces mine jointly with the INFACT project, and at the Kaiserstuhl site jointly with the HiTech AlkCarb project.
PACIFIC has also been very active both in communicating to target audiences, disseminating preliminary results and clustering/planning joint events with other projects, including: development of a detailed plan for dissemination and communication; creation of several communication channels and tools (website, flyer, social media accounts); presentation of PACIFIC activities at international meetings and trade shows.
At a townhall meeting during the workshop in the Marathon area in 12-14 June 2019, representatives of first-nation communities were shown the latest results of the passive seismic survey, as part of dissemination activities. The local TV media and two radio stations covered the workshop.
The project management structure was set up to include collaborative tools, processes for management and quality assurance, establishment of decision-making bodies.
Two consortium meetings were held (kick-off meeting and first General Assembly, including members of the Scientific Advisory Board).
PACIFIC contributed to achieving the expected impacts in the following ways:
• PACIFIC is developing a cutting-edge, cost-effective, environmentally viable technique. Through collaboration between academia and industry, PACIFIC has access to the latest research and industrial development in seismology. PACIFIC members UGA and SISP have licenced the initial codes that govern the application of the technique. Additional licenses will be established by UGA and DIAS on codes being developed for the two new techniques.
• PACIFIC has employed its new techniques at the Marathon pilot site and at the Las Cruces (Spain) and Kaiserstuhl (Germany) sites. At the end of the program, these techniques will be made available to the mineral exploration industry which will employ them to search for new deposits in Europe. The PACIFIC technique can be used to explore for and evaluate deeply buried deposits in a manner that is far less invasive and thus more acceptable to local communities than most alternative techniques. This will contribute to unlocking a greater volume of raw materials within the EU.
• Coordination of industrial initiatives and coordination of Member States and EU initiatives was achieved via efficient communication and cooperation within the PACIFIC consortium which includes members from 5 countries and from universities, government organisations and private industry. Links with other H2020 projects (INFACT and HiTech AlkCarb) led to joint field tests at La Cruces in Spain and Kaiserstuhl in Germany. PACIFIC and INFACT are jointly organising a Winter School in Spain in March 2020.
• PACIFIC have developed techniques to evaluate public perception of the minerals industry. These approaches will be used to inform exploration and mining companies on how best to communicate to national and local stakeholders, the media and with the general public.
PACIFIC Node retrieval after test at Marathon site, Canada