The Upper Kobuk Mineral Project holds massive exploration potential. Junior mining company Trilogy Metals has introduced the Seequent Central model management platform to improve collaboration on model development, this will become increasingly valuable as plans for the district evolve and their Joint Venture with Perth based South32 progresses.

The Project

Trilogy Metals is dedicated to advancing exploration at the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (“UKMP”), high-grade copper-zinc-lead-goldsilver-cobalt properties in the Ambler mining district, Northwest Alaska, where they have a land holding of approximately 426,690-acres.

In March 2019 Seequent Central was tested and then introduced to improve collaboration between Project Geologist, Bonnie Broman, based in Fairbanks, Alaska and Exploration Manager, Andy West, based in Juneau, Alaska. Central is a platform for organisations to analyse, track and manage all geoscience data in one place. This single source of truth allows project stakeholders, wherever they’re based, to easily check in with operations, view model progress and assist and collaborate on development.

Bonnie Broman explains, “Central is allowing us to focus on being geologists and do what we do best, rather than laborious data management tasks. But probably the biggest value is the increase in collaboration Central has enabled and our ability to test out and retain theories without being locked into them. The UKMP has massive potential, having Seequent Central will enable us to make the most of exploration and develop multiple deposits.”

Trilogy has recently announced a Joint Venture (JV) with mining and metals company, South32. Each will hold a 50% share in the private company, Ambler Metals, which will actively explore and develop UKMP. Central has already enabled key stakeholders from South32’s Perth head office to view models in development and contribute to decision making. This will become increasingly valuable as plans for the district evolve, potentially including using Central to develop a Regional Model and collaborate on a much wider scale.

“…probably the biggest value is the increase in collaboration Central has enabled and our ability to test out and retain theories without being locked into them.”

Trilogy’s Project Geologist, Bonnie Broman

Situation

The UKMP are located in the highly prospective Ambler Mining District in Alaska which is home to some of the world’s richest known copper-dominant polymetallic deposits. The most advanced projects are Arctic and Bornite.

Arctic is one of the highest-grade undeveloped copper deposits known in the world with an average grade of 5% copper equivalent. The deposit is a polymetallic volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit located approximately 470 kilometres northwest of the City of Fairbanks, Alaska. Arctic is at Pre-Feasibility Stage and current activities are focused on advancing Arctic to Feasibility and permitting.

Bornite is a high-grade copper deposit with significant exploration potential, located in a safe, mining friendly jurisdiction. The deposit is a carbonate hosted copper-cobalt deposit located approximately 25 kilometres southwest of the Company’s Arctic project. Current activities are focussed on exploration, with mineralisation remaining open to the north, northeast and south.

Trilogy has an active drilling programme every year between June and October, with updates done after this field season is over. Geological models had been inherited from a previous manager, who had been the sole creator, with Project Geologist, Bonnie Broman, based in Fairbanks, Alaska, responsible for updating models with this new drilling information using Leapfrog’s dynamic updating feature. Sharing models with Exploration Manager, Andy West, based in Juneau, Alaska, meant either emailing a zip file or sending on a USB flash drive. As the original models were very large, the task could be cumbersome, with potential file conversion issues and difficulty in keeping track of earlier versions, with the potential risk of using a wrong version. As the two geologists were also working on models separately each time they needed to share something of interest they had to take the time out to zip up the model and then export and import.

Project Geologist, Bonnie Broman, pictured with Exploration Manager, Andy West and other members of Trilogy’s exploration team.

Response

After attending Seequent’s Lyceum event in Vancouver, 2017, Bonnie was impressed with the model management platform Seequent Central and saw the opportunity to solve the issues with their current way of working. Central presented the opportunity to bring the two geologists together within the Central platform and streamline collaboration, allowing them to easily share ideas and gain consensus while avoiding any potential version control issues.

Comments Bonnie, “We were a little hesitant to start with, but we quickly found the benefits of being able to share so easily far outweighed our trepidation in trying the new approach.”

Outcome

Since implementing Central it has helped Bonnie and Andy to achieve their modelling goals of collaborating effectively and easily verifying which version of the model they’re working on.

Comments Bonnie, “I’m currently working on a new deposit which I’m modelling pretty much from scratch. Working in this new way we’re able to go back and forth within Central and collaborate. For me a key benefit is my ability to try out different modelling techniques and working theories in different branches of the project. I can, for instance, model a particular unit as a vein instead of intrusive. This allows me to test out new ideas, without being locked into a certain path and also means that I can go back to a previous version of the model if I want to. All of this is increasing my understanding of the deposit and my confidence in the modelling.”

Figure 1: Cross-sectional view of the Sunshine deposit during ore zone modelling. The deposit is a series of folded massive sulfide horizons and while folding can be difficult to depict, the Vein tool was used to adjust each zone accordingly.

Central is also allowing Trilogy to share with other collaborators outside of their organisation, including their recent JV partner South32, who are able to open up the models in Perth and easily share and collaborate. Similarly, their resource work is done by a third party consultant, who is also able to access Central for collaboration.

Explains Bonnie, “If we were to quantify what we’re saving using Central it’s the time aspects regarding upload, compression, no need to zip up, which can take as much as four hours. And all of these of course impact cost. It also mitigates the risk of mistakenly using a wrong version, which could be very costly. It really allows us to do more of what we do best and be geologists.”

“I think data quality is probably the biggest challenge facing the industry, there’s a lot more data, especially from new tech, but there’s the risk of garbage in and garbage out. It’s essential to start with good data and validate with QA/ QC. I can see how Central could help with this in the future. For instance, if we were interested in a new property or deposit, that we have no experience of, or exposure to, we can bring data into Central and share, investigate and validate. We can potentially also produce a quick model and share amongst colleagues. It’s a better way of getting a more accurate feel than going into a data room and looking at unorganised excel files.”

Figure 2: Project Sunshine Model as shown in Central Browser. Here a note has been made next to the thumbnail on the progress of the model while also showing on the far left the different branches created to test different modelling theories.

Trilogy is also planning to review Seequent’s dynamic resource estimation solution, Leapfrog Edge, to further extend the modelling workflow. Similarly they plan to review IMDEXHUB-IQ™ for real-time 3D visualisation of downhole survey and structural geology data. Both Leapfrog Edge and IMDEXHUB-IQ™ are fully integrated with the Seequent Central platform.

Comments Trilogy’s Exploration Manager, Andy West, “We are proud of our long history of exploration success and resource development, and we’re focused on delivering exceptional results to shareholders. By introducing Seequent Central we are improving our modelling techniques and helping us achieve that success.”

Concludes Seequent Central Product Manager, Peter Joynt, “Trilogy is a prime example of a junior company using Seequent Central to improve communication and collaboration, streamline model development, and provide an audit trail of the work. With their new JV with South32 and a global team working on the project the collaboration possible via Central will be a key contributor to their ongoing success.”

Contact Seequent for more information on Central.