The presentation was divided into four sections viz:
- The past 40 years
- "Case futurologies"
- External factors affecting prospecting priorities
- What will shape the future?
1. The past 40 years - to what extent has there been a revolution in prospecting methodology?
Shift from ground truth to remote sensing
Remarkable progress in instrumentation, data capture and handling etc
2. "Case futurologies" (the antithesis of case histories)
As examples, copper, coal and diamond production has doubled in past 40 years and may do so again in the next 40 years. Aluminium production has increased five-fold since 1965 and it is anybody's guess as to what the level will be in 2045.
Nevertheless, future levels of production are not themselves determinants of where exploration budgets will be directed.
Copper production usually proceeds on a limited reserve base and innovative exploration is continuous.
In contrast bauxite (aluminium) reserves are effectively infinite and exploration involves little more than step-out sampling.
The discovery of new diamond deposits owes as much to serendipity as science.
The future of coal exploration is largely determined by geopolitical issues overriding normal economic criteria
3. External factors affecting future prospecting priorities.
Issues around; strategic and vulnerable commodities, cartelisation, competition from new consumers (eg China), the unforeseen appearance of substitutes.
4. What will shape the future?
Technical innovation in exploration methodology.
The ability of exploration geologist to "think laterally"
Innovative locations for mines.
Finale: Where does the Mining Institute of Scotland fit into all this?
. Scotland is a small country
. Apart from hydrocarbons the Scottish economy is very little dependent upon primary mineral production
. BUT Scotland is a part of the UK/EU/World economic order with a heavy dependence upon non-renewable resources
. MIS needs to represent the importance of minerals to a wider Scottish audience
. At most levels of education encourage the addition of relevant material into course curricula.
"If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us" (Coleridge)
(Richard Crockett PhD, MIMMM, CEng, FGS, CGeol - 12 October 2005)
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