Editor’s note: The aim of the Geology and Mining series is to introduce early career professionals and students to various aspects of mineral exploration, development, and mining in order to share the experiences and insight of each author on the myriad of topics involved with the mineral industry and the ways in which geoscientists contribute to each.


This paper describes the potential value that can be gained when exploration geologists, early in the project life cycle, contribute to aspects of project development that have historically been outside of their purview. Increasingly strong societal pressures are being directed toward exploration and mining to ensure (1) an enduring social license to operate is in place and (2) closure and postclosure mine liabilities are fully addressed and funded. These actions are consistent with the professional and ethical obligation of caring for human and ecological well-being over both the short and long term. The roles and responsibilities of exploration geologists are evolving as a result. A singular focus on searching for and assessing the nature of ore deposits from a technical perspective has expanded to include (1) contributing to building the foundation for a social license to operate and (2) capturing increasing amounts of data and information relevant to the full mine life cycle, up to and including the closure and postclosure phases of activity. These activities are additional to the traditional geologic role of the exploration geologist and will further enhance the value of an exploration project, despite the rare transition of an exploration target to an operating mine. This expanded role is critical for aligning industry and social values, strengthening trust in the mining industry, and enhancing the appeal of the mining industry as a desirable career option.

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