Exploration activity within a region or within a mining organization is controlled by an economic pattern based upon changing conditions in mining practice, processing technology, and marketing opportunities. Exploration programs and new developments in exploration science must be viewed in the context of the rapidly changing concept of an ore body.Any exploration effort, whether based upon a prospect examination, a programmed regional evaluation, or a task force charged with the replacement of a depleting ore body, is essentially a profit-versus-risk affair. Each decision to abandon or to continue and each budget allocation uses the accumulated experience from failures and successes. Quantification of the risk and of the expected ore body at each stage in the effort requires the skill of a well-informed and competent exploration team within a parent organization which provides specific guidelines regarding its goals and capabilities. A successful exploration program under modern competitive conditions requires a long-term commitment in which the risk factors, geology, politics, and economics for the selected region or commodity have been fully investigated.In evaluating potential profit versus risk, consideration should be given to evidence that the largest financial losses are often not in exploration but rather in the abandonment of an unprofitable mining operation after the commitment of a capital investment on the basis of incomplete geologic investigation. The decision as to when an anomaly is to be considered a target may be less critical than the decision as to when an investigated target is to be considered an ore body.

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