Updated: Nov 18, 2020
What is typically created as an afterthought, considered of little value until someone new comes along, is the go-to source for experts and novices alike but the most recent is the most sought after?
An assessment report.
It's that time of year again, where we dust off our writing skills to create a formal report to let the government know we worked our claims and want to push the expiry date forward. All jurisdictions will have a specific set of rules to follow but there is a common theme that resonates across Canadian provinces and territories: location & access, physiography & climate, property status & ownership, exploration history, geological setting and the summary.
*Note: it is plagiarism when sections of an assessment report are copied and pasted into another report without citing the original source, this is a terrible practice as it limits the original author's exposure to future work and increases the risk of further compounding errors.*
In our pursuit to finish the document, sometimes the future value of an assessment report tends to be overlooked. The report is designed to ensure all aspects of mineral exploration are covered. As such, it is an important tool to help secure investors and update new workers. To get the most accurate information, however, it is best to contact the appropriate officials directly. Before you start, you will want to look up the 1:50 K National Topographic System (NTS) map name(s) of the project area as most datasets are stored and/or associated by the area's map sheet name.
Location and Access
The nearest infrastructure, mining jurisdictions, First Nation Territories and how to get to the property are all important considerations when developing a property. This information will help investors determine the cost of tying-in a mine to the nearest power station, how far they would need to transport the ore or concentrate to a rail line or port and on what type of roads as well as how politically stable the area is for mining.
The Terrain Resource Information Management (TRIM) provides the base data for geographical features such as roads, rail lines, watercourses, lakes, etc. in visual or GIS formats: BC Basemap Online Store, Yukon Maps and Digital Data, or Natural Resources Canada Canvec TRIM.
YT Mine Recorder Offices: GIS or visual
YT First Nation Traditional Territories: GIS or visual
Physiography and Climate
This section is useful for giving potential investors and new workers a general idea of how steep or flat the project area is for infrastructure, the types of vegetation and cover density, local wildlife that may affect safety, if exploration can be conducted year-round, if there are any underlying wildlife habitat areas or other special environmental protections that may limit activities or require additional environmental measures as well as any nearby parks.
YT Physiography: GIS or visual
Historical Canadian Weather Averages by Nearest Station: visual
YT Biology-Wildlife Key Areas: GIS or visual
YT Land Use-Parks and Protected Areas: GIS or visual
Property Status and Ownership
The purpose of this section of the report is to clearly state the total size of the claim (usually in hectares), the corner and centre locations (usually in Lat/Log or UTM coordinates), the owners (with percent ownership) and if there are any underlying royalties like a percentage of the NSR (Net Smelter Return). Any underlying agreements will have to be provided by the owners and will help give investors an idea of how much of the project they are buying into and any potential opportunities for buyouts.
YT Mine Recorders Office-Mining Quartz & Placer Claims: GIS or visual
This section is where any previous exploration conducted on the property is described. This helps readers determine how progressed the project has become which, in turn, can affect optioning agreements and help determine the future work needed to get drill or mine ready. This section is also a great place to summarize the best samples collected to-date to let the readers know why the area is still being worked.
Any local exploration, developed prospects or mines can also be mentioned in this section to give the potential investor, or new worker, an idea of what may be the style of mineralization and how active the area has been. BC MINFILE's and YT Mineral Occurrence databases are great resources to start with to help find reports on the area.
YT Geological-Mineral Occurrences-Assessment Report Footprints: GIS or visual
YT Energy Mines and Resources Library: visual
The Geological Setting section can be broken up into two parts: Regional Geology and Property Geology. The Regional Geology section allows the reader to get a general sense of the type of deposit that may be found in the area, whereas the Property Geology consists of more detailed descriptions of the rock types, the mineralization found and the surficial geology such as glacial deposit types and thicknesses. More in-depth regional geology reports can usually be found at Geoscience BC, BC Geological Survey, YT Geological Survey, and the Geological Survey of Canada using the NTS map sheets as a search reference.
The Summary is typically the last section to be written although it is the first page that is read after the title page. The majority of assessment report readers will not continue past the Summary so spending time on this section can really pay off. Ideally this section will consist of two to three sentences from each of the report's sections. One writer's block trick is to copy and paste the first sentence from each paragraph in the report then edit the pasted sentence into a summary of the report's paragraphs.
The Summary should be written in plain language, with enough details, to appeal to readers with different backgrounds who may be interested in the project: investors, management, prospectors and geologists. This section is also where highlights from previous and current exploration activities can be summarized and displayed in table format for easy viewing.
Although the mineral assessment report is mandated by the government to maintain claims, it can also be a great opportunity to consolidate the data needed to advance a project and secure investors.
Other sources of information:
BC Rock Properties Database (2018): rock properties, magnetic susceptibility, density measurement and conductivity measurement.
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About the Author:
Dr. Diana Benz has 24 years of experience working in the mineral exploration industry searching for diamonds and metals in a range of roles: from heavy minerals lab technician to till sampler, rig geologist, project manager and business owner. She has a Bachelor of Science in General Biology, a Master of Science in Earth Sciences researching diamond indicator mineral geochemistry and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies using geochemical multivariate statistical analysis techniques to interpret biogeochemical data for mineral exploration. Diana has conducted field work in Canada (BC, NWT, YT and ON) as well as in Greenland. She has also been involved, remotely through a BC-based office, on mineral exploration projects located in South America, Africa, Eurasia, Australia and the Middle East. Currently, Diana is the owner of Takom Exploration Ltd., a small geological and environmental consulting firm focused on metal exploration in BC and the Yukon.