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Improving mineral exploration: Targeted Geoscience Initiative

If you’re from the mineral exploration industry, our Targeted Geoscience Initiative’s (TGI’s) publicly available geoscience knowledge and data may help inform your exploration activities. Surface discoveries of extractable metals are increasingly rare in Canada. That’s part of the reason we were established in 2000 as a national, collaborative program housed under the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). Our data and knowledge supports industry, academics and provincial and territorial governments working to detect buried mineral deposits. We also offer grants to support research that complements our studies.

A geologist examines a mafic dyke above the Stewart River in central Yukon as part of TGI field research to understand gold mineralization processes.

Program objectives

What we do

  • Help Canada’s mineral exploration industry identify and develop future mines across the country by reducing risk in exploration activities
  • Help attract international and domestic investments in the metals exploration and extraction industry (There is a 7.3x economic return on investment for every dollar invested in our program.)
  • Potentially extend the life of established mines in Canada
  • Develop next-generation geological knowledge, leading-edge tools, innovative techniques and predictive models of Canada’s mineral potential for key commodities, including critical minerals
  • Provide integrated, multi-scale scientific knowledge of source-to-ore formation to guide new exploration approaches and support the sustained discovery of ore resources at depth (often with the help of artificial intelligence applications)
  • Identify and develop novel indicators and parameters to guide exploration in emerging and existing mining areas

How we do it

  • Clarify the processes that formed various ore deposits, including critical minerals, in hydrothermal, magmatic and orogenic ore systems across Canada
  • Develop new and enhanced methods for ore systems and related research (e.g., laboratory, machine learning, artificial intelligence and related methods)
  • Focus on elements that are critical to Canada’s transition to a green and digital economy
  • Increase the pool of next-generation geoscientists available for employment in the mineral exploration industry through training and mentoring
  • Work with the United States Geological Survey and Geoscience Australia on the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative, which enhances our understanding of critical minerals resources and supports the development of a diversified critical minerals industry in all three countries

Featured research and data

Our knowledge products can help you understand ore systems. They’re particularly useful if you’re engaged in your own research into sustainable exploration for critical and economically important minerals in Canada.

TGI booklet
This booklet details how we’ve helped industry target deeply buried mineral deposits more effectively with new knowledge and techniques.

Targeted Geoscience Initiative 5: volcanic- and sediment-hosted massive-sulfide deposit genesis and exploration methods
This publication presents advanced genetic and exploration models for volcanic- and sedimentary-hosted base-metal deposits, together with new laboratory, geophysical, and field techniques.

Targeted Geoscience Initiative 5: contributions to the understanding and exploration of porphyry deposits
This publication summarizes the results of five-year research projects conducted on porphyry deposits in the Canadian Cordillera and the Appalachians of Atlantic Canada. The main objective of these projects was to better define the geological conditions where porphyry deposits form and test techniques to detect buried porphyry deposits in support of mineral exploration.

Targeted Geoscience Initiative 5: Contributions to the understanding of Canadian gold systems
This set of 20 papers contains information that supports the discovery of gold and associated critical mineral exploration in a wider range of geological settings than previously offered.

Targeted Geoscience Initiative 5: Advances in the understanding of Canadian Ni-Cu-PGE and Cr ore systems — Examples from the Midcontinent Rift, the Circum-Superior Belt, the Archean Superior Province, and Cordilleran Alaskan-type intrusions
These nine papers provide research on the geological settings of magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE and Cr ore deposits and the underlying mineral systems. They form the backbone of established and emerging mining camps across Canada.

Targeted Geoscience Initiative 5: Integrated multidisciplinary studies of unconformity-related uranium deposits from the Patterson Lake corridor, northern Saskatchewan
This document summarizes the results of the five-year study on the Patterson Lake corridor, which has high-grade uranium deposits that differ from the traditional Athabasca Basin depositional models. The results of the study support classification of the hydrothermal deposits as related to the role of unconformable granitic intrusions.

Datasets to support prospectivity modelling for sediment-hosted Zn-Pb mineral systems
This study was completed as part of the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative (CMMI) between the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and Geoscience Australia (GA). It reports data from all three countries to support mineral exploration for critical raw materials in sedimentary basins.

Looking for more great resources from TGI and other GSC programs? Search GEOSCAN, a database of more than 85,000 scientific publications from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).


TGI’s accomplishments to date

Our program’s scientific knowledge and innovative methods have helped reduce the risks inherent in mineral exploration, so companies can focus on areas where they’re likely to be successful. Here are some of our recent achievements:

  • Our public geoscience knowledge enhanced the search criteria used to find new deposits in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. That enabled the expansion of its mining district and improved the exploration models used to look for banded iron formation–hosted gold deposits around the globe.
  • Our work has also led to a new model for chromite deposition in the Ring of Fire area of northern Ontario. It provides valuable geological information that informs mineral exploration in one of the largest undeveloped ore-rich regions in the world.
  • TGI studies on the formation of polymetallic base and critical metal deposits in northwestern Canada, and carbonate-hosted zinc-lead deposits in western Canada, have also provided key geological knowledge that guides exploration in these areas.
  • Our analyses of the chemical composition of particular minerals that can indicate the presence of nearby porphyry mineralization are helping industry better target economic mineralization in British Columbia.
  • TGI’s 3D geophysical modelling in the Patterson Lake corridor of northern Saskatchewan has enhanced the understanding of Canada’s uranium resources. Our studies have found links between the uranium deposits and deep crustal-scale features, including the influence of circa 1.8 Ga granitic intrusions on the uranium ore systems.

We’ve collaborated with industry, academia and provincial and territorial governments to generate more than 1,000 public geoscience knowledge publications and 500 science presentations for the public and stakeholders over the past decade. TGI has provided training for more than 150 students and offered 48 grants to Canadian academic institutions. We’ll continue producing highly relevant geoscience to support research and the mining industry in the coming years.

TGI grant program

The deadline for submissions to the TGI grant program (2023-2025) is now closed. The TGI coordination office will contact applicants following the review process and recipients of the TGI grants for 2023-2025 will be listed on the website once available.

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