Neptune Minerals conducts year round exploration campaigns in its tenements with the goal of identifying and validating future mining deposits.
In order to define JORC compliant minerals resources, Neptune Minerals has adopted a phased approach to resource development detailed below.
Area Selection and Tenement Acquisition
Area selection begins by examining literature and researching the geology of a region of interest. Based on this research and any data that may exist from cruises executed by other parties, an area of interest is identified and the process of acquiring prospecting licenses (PLs) over the area of interest is initiated. This process is concluded by the successful lodgment and award of a prospecting license.
The initial survey campaign is generally conducted using a small, fast and cost effective vessel that is dedicated to the acquisition of bathymetrical data. For example, equipment producing 12 to 30 KHz frequency acoustic signals can map between 1,000 and 2,000 square kilometers per day at a resolution adequate for our needs. The data that is acquired is mainly bathymetric data, but ideally also includes first pass backscatter information and sub-bottom profiling.
This campaign is conducted over numerous tenements and jurisdictions and provides not only data for the selection of targets (areas of interest), but also satisfies the regulatory requirements of the prospecting license.
The exploration phase is the critical part of the process and is used to evaluate the targets identified using the bathymetry and other data acquired during the survey phase. The exploration campaign follows up on areas of the seafloor identified by geologists as being prospective by conducting hydrothermal plume surveys and performing higher resolution mapping.
Hydrothermal plume surveys are tailored to suit our needs and we use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) or suitable remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). By flying at a height of about 20 meters above the seafloor, the sensor payload measures changes in seawater chemistry that requires further investigation.
This is then followed up by ROV survey and sampling, as well as detailed mapping. Should indications of surface massive sulfide be found (i.e., chimneys or black smokers); reconnaissance drilling is undertaken using a scout drill rig. Should this drilling indicate the presence of sub-surface massive sulfide, then other geophysical techniques such as acoustic sub-bottom profiling, magnetic and electromagnetic (EM) surveys are considered.
Planned drilling to determine the extent and depth of mineralization of a prospective area which we have identified as a potential resource is the purpose of the resource drilling phase. Deeper drilling with a dedicated robotic drill that sits on the seafloor is undertaken to better define the volume and grade of massive sulfide and continuity.
This phase is also used to acquire environmental baseline information vital to the process of compiling an environmental impact assessment that is required should a mining license application be submitted.
Resource definition is the final phase in the process and consists of an evaluation of all the geological, chemical, metallurgical and assay data to compile a report defining the geology, extent, volume and mineralization of a resource.