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Natural Resources
July 28, 2010

Geological Mapping Program Results in Greater Mineral Knowledge and Information

As part of its summer field program designed to increase knowledge of Newfoundland and Labrador's mineral resource potential, the Department of Natural Resources' geological mapping program will provide earth sciences and geography students with valuable field experience. Existing full-time field projects will continue and two new projects will commence this summer, including a six-week detailed geochemistry study of rare metals.

"Increased geoscience will help us to identify possible prospective areas in Newfoundland and Labrador that contain significant mineralization," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources. "This information will in turn assist mineral exploration companies to make informed investment decisions that will guide future exploration and development activity."

Enhanced funding for the program's expansion is part of a three-year, $3 million dollar geological mapping initiative announced in Budget 2008. This funding is part of government's commitment to attract further exploration and investment into the province while improving the sector's ability to compete locally and globally.

Twenty-seven Memorial University Earth Sciences and Geography degree program students have been hired this summer to participate in a variety of field and office-based geoscience projects.

"The twenty-seven students hired will gain significant hands-on experience in several key areas including field geology and logistics, data management and statistical analysis," said Minister Dunderdale. "These students will have an opportunity to work and train closely with the department's experienced field staff and gain knowledge and skills that they can apply later down the road in their chosen discipline."

A growing trend within the mining sector is interest in rare metals and rare earth elements. These non-traditional metals have numerous applications in new and developing technologies, and there has been an increased demand for the exploration of new deposits. A six-week detailed geochemistry study of rare metals in central Newfoundland will begin this summer.

Also this summer, significant changes and updates to the department's web-based Geoscience Online Atlas will occur. This is a major source of information for the mineral exploration industry and makes digital data collected by the department and industry field mapping crews available over the internet. The update will enhance the consistency and usability of the data for map production and analysis.

Funding for the Geological Mapping Program has allowed the Department of Natural Resources to increase work on several regional mapping projects in the province. It has also enabled the initiation of two bedrock-mapping projects, which will show the distribution of various rock types and lead to a better understanding of geology and mineral potential.

A detailed lake-sediment geochemistry project in the area north of the Smallwood Reservoir and a study of uranium mineralization in Labrador's Central Mineral Belt has also been completed. The department will also pursue other aspects of Labrador's mineral potential, including the assessment of gold, copper and rare-earth elements.

Last fall, in partnership with Nalcor Energy, the Geological Survey division published a series of high-resolution aeromagnetic maps of the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador at an approximate cost of $1 million. Forty-six maps were produced as part of the surveys, covering over 11,000 square kilometres between Bay St. George and St. Anthony, and were well received by both the mineral industry and petroleum exploration companies.

The mining industry is a significant contributor to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially in rural communities. The gross value of mineral shipments for 2010 is forecast at $2.6 billion with exploration expenditures anticipated to be $59 million.


Media contact:

Ken Morrissey
Director of Communications
Department of Natural Resources
709-729-5282, 685-6612

2010 07 28                                                    11:55 a.m.


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