Exploration - Life of Mine Support

MDA delivers vital support to mine operators throughout the entire life of a mine, from initial exploration and planning through operations, and mine closure.

At the beginning of a mine’s life, MDA provides information critical to successful exploration and planning initial access.

Maximizing limited exploration budgets and obtaining the greatest value from knowing surface topography is key to advancing exploration drilling programs. MDA’s mining exploration services include cost effective products that support the understanding of a region’s geological characteristics for geologists and mine operators.

MDA’s mining exploration support services include:

  • Mineral Mapping Product
  • Land Cover Products
  • Fracture Density Analysis
  • Terrain Complexity Products
  • Relative Elevation Products
  • Soil Texture Products
Risk Reduction

MDA satellite mapping and terrain analysis products are a cost-effective means of reducing exploration risks and establishing a benchmark of critical geospatial information.

Field Exploration Programs

MDA’s proven technologies can provide valuable assistance in deploying more economical field exploration resources and programs, enhancing exploration budgets.

Deposit Location Support

MDA's exploration product helps customers overcome the technical complexity of locating deposits in regions with poor accessibility, in a cost effective manner.

Cost Effective Mapping

MDA provides cost effective mapping solutions that produce the widest available image swaths, minimizing the number of images required.

Secure Data

Maintaining control of data during an exploration program is critical. MDA has a long-standing reputation for data security, and has full control of the data stream from start to finish.

Photogeologic Interpretation 

MDA's team has a ​strong understanding of geologic structures and can assist customers with identifying mineralization models and recognizing potential target areas.

Mineral Products

Mineral_ProductsMDA is an all-source image provider, employing both remote sensing and expert geologic knowledge in its assessments. Processed multispectral high and mid-resolution imagery is used to identify rock types. Early identification of exploration targets through mineral mapping helps to focus field efforts, and increase cost efficiencies.

Fracture Density Analysis
MDA’s Fracture Density analysis provide information on regional lineaments and localized fracture zones, typically indicators of areas where mineralization may occur. The analysis augments client data to identify potential target areas for exploration. MDA staff geologists use processed satellite imagery and Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to generate Rose Diagrams, and Density Maps. Rose Diagrams are charts used to visualize fracture orientation and frequency, and Density Maps show overall fracture orientations, as well as specific orientations that are selected based on Rose Diagrams or field data.

Rose Diagram Density_Map
The image above shows a Rose Diagram, where green indicates the relative number of fractures at each orientation shown on the circular graph. In the Density Map above, the gradation in colour from red to blue represents the highest to lowest density of fractures derived from a variety of images.

Relative Elevation Products
Exploration Geologists refer to Relative Elevation products to locate patterns that provide information on underlying geology. An example of this approach is the use of drainage patterns to map changes in rock type or geologic structures. Steep terrain can indicate outcrops for the collection of field samples, and locations resistant to erosion often suggest a cemented zone with the potential for associated mineralization.
Relative Elevation
The image above is an example of a relative elevation product.
The bright white regions indicate higher, or more resistant
terrain, and drainage patterns are easily identified by the darker
grey and black areas.

Land Cover Products

Land Cover products support field operation planning by identifying and classifying mobility routes for vehicles and equipment, as well as land use patterns that highlight potential conflicts for acquisition in agricultural or developed areas. MDA’s global 30-metre resolution land cover products derived from satellite imagery can be customized to address specific project environmental and field mobility needs.


MDA's global land cover image maps are typically based on 13 standard land classes, but can be customized to
specific customer requirements.

Terrain Complexity Products
Terrain Complexity increases the time, effort, and resulting costs required to travel throughout an area, in addition to the potential investment in surveying and building facilities and roads. MDA’s Terrain Complexity products enable intuitive visualization of the level of terrain and the anticipated level of difficulty traversing routes.

Terrain/Likely-wet image products support operational planning and geohazard assessment by showing slope relative to landform. In addition, the products highlight locations where the water table is likely to be close to the ground surface, indicating the potential for saturated ground and flood risk.

Terrain_Complexity Likely-wet

In the terrain complexity image above, less-complex areas are shown in gray and blue. Higher terrain complexity is shown in orange and red.

The Terrain/Likely-wet image shown above highlights green areas that are likely to be wet. Yellow and blue areas indicate different classes of terrain and slope.

Soil Texture Products
The Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) is the recognized international system of soil engineering properties. MDA generates USCS soil texture products modeled from 90-metre ground resolution or higher satellite imagery to support route and facility planning, geohazard assessment, and hydrologic studies. The USCS map layer provides detail on grain-size distribution, plasticity, organic content, and mineral composition such as marl and evaporates that can affect mobility for field crews and equipment.


The image above shows an example of a 90-metre model of soil texture. Blue indicates water, and each of the other colours represent classes from the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Unified Soil Classification System (USCS).