Article written by Mr Grant van Heerden, Director and Principal Consultant of Britmindo Australia Pty Ltd.
Coal exploration typically starts with field reconnaissance surveys and outcrop mapping. This is regularly followed up with some form of aerial survey, particularly a topographic survey. The popular topographic survey method is airborne, most commonly adopting the LiDAR (laser) technique.
Once we have established the presence of coal, the next step is to determine the extent and continuity of the coal seam(s). This is best done through exploration drilling, although there are other methods and techniques like 2D and 3D seismics and other non-invasive methods.
Geostatistics in Coal Exploration is a relatively new development although it has been around in precious and base metal exploration for a long time. It is gaining popularity globally and this is very much a direct result of the recently (2014) released “Australian Guidelines for the Estimation and Classification of Coal Resources”. These guidelines are the update and replacement of the classic 2003 “Australian Guidelines for Estimating and Reporting of Inventory Coal, Coal Resources and Coal Reserves“.