Western Mineral Resources

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2007-1434
Version 1.0

Short Course Introduction to Quantitative Mineral Resource Assessments

By Donald A. Singer


diagram showing three steps to doing an assessment

This is an abbreviated text supplementing the content of three sets of slides used in a short course that has been presented by the author at several workshops. The slides should be viewed in the order of (1) Introduction and models, (2) Delineation and estimation, and (3) Combining estimates and summary. References cited in the slides are listed at the end of this text.

The purpose of the three-part form of mineral resource assessments discussed in the accompanying slides is to make unbiased quantitative assessments in a format needed in decision-support systems so that consequences of alternative courses of action can be examined. The three-part form of mineral resource assessments was developed to assist policy makers evaluate the consequences of alternative courses of action with respect to land use and mineral-resource development. The audience for three-part assessments is a governmental or industrial policy maker, a manager of exploration, a planner of regional development, or similar decision-maker. Some of the tools and models presented here will be useful for selection of exploration sites, but that is a side benefit, not the goal.

To provide unbiased information, we recommend the three-part form of mineral resource assessments where general locations of undiscovered deposits are delineated from a deposit type's geologic setting, frequency distributions of tonnages and grades of well-explored deposits serve as models of grades and tonnages of undiscovered deposits, and number of undiscovered deposits are estimated probabilistically by type. The internally consistent descriptive, grade and tonnage, deposit density, and economic models used in the design of the three-part form of assessments reduce the chances of biased estimates of the undiscovered resources.

What and why quantitative resource assessments: The kind of assessment recommended here is founded in decision analysis in order to provide a framework for making decisions concerning mineral resources under conditions of uncertainty. What this means is that we start with the question of what kinds of questions is the decision maker trying to resolve and what forms of information would aid in resolving these questions.

Some applications of mineral resource assessments: To plan and guide exploration programs, to assist in land use planning, to plan the location of infrastructure, to estimate mineral endowment, and to identify deposits that present special environmental challenges.

Why not just rank prospects / areas? Need for financial analysis, need for comparison with other land uses, need for comparison with distant tracts of land, need to know how uncertain the estimates are, need for consideration of economic and environmental consequences of possible development.

Our goal is to provide unbiased information useful to decision-makers.


Download the text of this report as a 13-page PDF file (of2007-1434.pdf; 296 kB).


Download the Introduction and Models slide set as a 122-page PDF file (1_Introduction_and_models.pdf; 9.3 MB).

Download the Delineation and Estimation slide set as a 105-page PDF file (2_Delineation_and_estimation.pdf; 6.7 MB).

Download the Combining Estimates and Summary slide set as a 58-page PDF file (3_Combining_estimates_and_summary.pdf; 1.3 MB).

For questions about the content of this report, contact Don Singer.

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