Exploration typically involves a staged processed whereby an area is selected for its exploration merit, based on:
Once an area is selected, an application for a mineral exploration licence (EL) is made to the relevant state department. Once this EL is granted then the holder of the EL proceeds to conducts field-based exploration, for example, local scale mapping, ground-based geophysical surveys, and drilling.
Typically, for mineral sands exploration drill targets are best defined through a review of previous air core drilling in the EL combined with a review of geophysics. The first stage of drilling often involves roadside air core drilling to depths of less than 50-60m to help test the proposed area of interest.
The next step might typically involve completing a more structured grid pattern of air core drill holes to define the general dimensions of the mineral sands system and provide necessary samples for further testing.
Each subsequent step in the exploration of an area is designed to test various aspects of the deposit – size, mineralogy, grade. In doing so, these tests provide the necessary data for the classification of a deposit, according to the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) code.