Governments around the world are using next-generation public geoscience to meet many of the same challenges and opportunities, including meeting increased demand for critical minerals, clean energy supply and disaster risk reduction.
As such, many national and regional geological survey organisations (GSOs) and related associations are banding together under the banner of the World Community of Geological Surveys (WCOGS) with the aim of connecting people and organisations, generating synergies and providing mutual support through a global dialogue.
In a Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) session, hosted virtually on June 28, geoscientific research organisation Geological Survey of Canada director-general Daniel Lebel explained that the WCOGS shares best practices on how geoscience can address some of the most pressing national and global issues, now and into the future.
He believes a vital ingredient for making a mineral discovery is the availability of public access to geoscience data.
Not only does publicly available geoscience data de-risk private-sector-led economic development, it also enhances national and international institutional relationships through scientific cooperation and informs public decisions at local, regional and national levels.
The WCOGS offers a window into 130 GSOs globally, including those of Australia, Indonesia, Portugal, Ireland, Japan, Spain, the UK, the US, South Korea, Croatia, Malaysia, Thailand, Czech Republic, Philippines, Ecuador and Poland.
In Canada’s case, its 15 federal, provincial and territorial GSOs are aligning geoscience activities to enhance public geoscience for economic, social and environmental benefits, including inclusivity, public safety, competitiveness and more informed land-use decisions.
Meanwhile, Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS) secretariat David Khoza noted that his organisation had been representing GSOs on the African continent since 2007, with the aim of being the leading geoscientific voice advising the different governments in the African Union (AU).
The organisation has a particular focus on socioeconomic development, poverty alleviation, sustainable land use and hazard mitigation, in line with the AU Agenda 2063 strategy and with a view to map “minerals of the future” such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, rare earths, silver, molybdenum, aluminium, copper and manganese.
In the last few years, OAGS produced a seismotectonic map of Africa, a geological and mineral map of Africa and a compilation of African geosites.
Khoza said geological surveys must be responsible to national priorities.
The OAGS continues to conduct a regional geotectonic study of the African continent, to understand its composition and structure, and make this information available for decision-makers.
In the US, the Association of Geological and Mining Surveys of Iberoamerica (ASGMI) comprises 22 geological surveys from Central America, the Caribbean, South America and Europe, which incorporates more than 2 000 professionals including geologists, chemists, physicists and engineers.
ASGMI president Eduardo Zappettini says the organisation is updating a metallogenic map of South America, which was first published in 2005. It provides information on more than 20 000 deposits, delineation of metallurgic belts, deposit models and analysis of mineral resources.
The Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programs in East and Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok, comprises 16 member countries, and its representatives said the WCOGS could provide a step forward in global geoscience collaboration, with more decent and wider disciplines.
Further, 37 European geological surveys comprise the European Geoscience for Society organisation. More than 500 experts are drawn from the geological surveys of Europe and regularly engage on issues of common interest, in the form of expert groups such as marine geology, geo-energy, mineral resources and urban geology.
As an example of the WCOGS’s collaboration, Geological Survey of Canada central division director Dr Geneviève Marquis highlighted how her organisation has been working with geoscientific geoscience agencies Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey on a critical minerals mapping initiative (CMMI).
The initiative was launched at the end of 2019 to establish priority research streams, models, methods and communication or data-sharing.
To this end, the WCOGS has helped to set up workshops and virtual conferences to create a larger geoscience network, acting as a catalyst for research capabilities.
The partners have been able to share information on global critical minerals mapping with thousands of geoscientific participants globally.
CMMI’s mapping and information is accessible on www.criticalminerals.org and https://portal.ga.gov.au/persona/cmmi, which helps stakeholders to make sense of the economic feasibility of mining projects and discover new potential deposits.