Innovative exploration technologies
CAMM is providing research on the mineralization potential within Sweden and is contributing to the development of more efficient exploration methods. Proper information on the mineral resource potential is in addition to the significance in the search for mineral deposits also valuable information with respect to decisions related to the establishment of mining activities in specific areas on both a short and long-term time perspective.
Development of efficient mineral exploration strategies is in general characterized by involvement of a cross-disciplinary approach. The research is performed with the aim of providing new and improved solutions for securing the supply of raw materials necessary for the development of the society. Sweden hosts several “world class” mineral deposits and mineral districts and has a very good potential for exploitation of critical metals. The geology and mineral resources of northern Sweden are in focus for the CAMM work package on exploration. In our work we focus on the development of innovative exploration technologies by integrating regional-scale 3D geological and geophysical modelling of mineral belts with ore genetic studies and micro-analytical resource characterization.
One tool to trigger a higher degree of investment in exploration is to enhance our three-dimensional geometrical understanding of the Earth’s crust and its development over time. Within WP1 Exploration in CAMM we generate and integrate four-dimensional geological models from regional to deposit scale. Continuous integration and outward communication of our modelling and visualization expertise supports better targeting of new mineral resources at depth, which leads to a reduction of environmental impacts and costs by enhancing the efficiency of exploration workflows. Specific information about the interior of the Earth comes from three sources – drilling, mining and geophysical data. The latter are used to infer rock types and geological structures at depth and models derived from the geophysical data are often used to plan and guide drilling campaigns. Within CAMM, we specifically investigate how regional scale geophysical data combined with geological observations from northern Sweden can be utilized to provide information on geological environments favourable for hosting mineralisation.
Another way to secure the domestic supply of both main commodities and critical raw materials is to characterize ores, waste rock, and production waste material in a detailed and efficient way. Ore characterization research contributes to the development of analytical methodologies for exploration and mineral processing, through an improved understanding of the rock mass (mineralogy, mineral chemistry, textures etc.). Within the exploration research group in CAMM, methodologies arise from a novel combination of state-of-the-art micro-chemical techniques, e.g. trace element mapping by Laser Ablation ICP-MS and 3D-visulalisation by high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. The LTU micro-analytical laboratory is successfully analysing ore-related minerals. The research encompasses detailed mineralogical studies of different ore types, with the aim to understand the formation of ore deposits, increase mining efficiency and utilize the ores fully.