The Science of Discovery – Why are some explorers successful?


Behaving like a successful discover.

As well as being a systems thinker, I have spent the last five years pioneering and promoting the concept of “Discovery Science”, that is treating mineral discovery as a science, rather than expeditious luck. So, what does that mean exactly? It means that there is strong evidence that with the right scientific approach we can move from being simply lucky explorers to consistent discoverers.

Part of this journey has been to interview and research past and current successful discoverers. These include organisations with almost mythical success like WMC Exploration Division and Placer-Dome during their golden years, plus remarkable individuals and discovery entrepreneurs like Robert Friedland and Mark Creasy, neither of whom is a geologist.

So how did a mining engineer turned prospector and meteorite hunter Mark Creasy become Australia’s most successful prospector and richest discoverer of the modern era? A detailed discussion and analysis of this is part of Thinker.Events annual “The Science of Discovery” workshop (register now for the third workshop in this series on 19-21 February, 2024). By way of introduction, Mark’s story is one of two parts. Part one before he discovered Jundee by dry pan prospecting and part two when having banked the cheque from Joe Gutnick’s Great Central Mines for Jundee, he was able to privately fund his own exploration in frontier terranes mostly in his home state of Western Australia.

Private funding is a theme Creasy has in common with Friedland. Independent funding allowed Creasy to think big and take up regional scale first mover tenement position, normally the behaviour of major mining houses. If you wall paper the “roulette board” and hold on, you automatically increase your odds as the bets are laid. Anyone wanting to access the district has to do a deal with you. Creasy’s standard 70:30 earn in joint Venture plus cash payment (usually sub-equal to refund of Creasy’s first pass surface geochemistry work he likes to do to enhance most greenfield projects) leaves Creasy Group with significant 30% free carried to mine, when Creasy commonly converts his 30% to share equity (as happened with Sirius Resources). This 70:30 deal is not often attractive to majors so it is partnering with other juniors and IPOs that is more common. If no partner exists Creasy is not averse to making his own, often placing former employees on the board (eg, Galileo Mining, Fraser Range). Retaining control and influence plus ability to bankroll through lean times during market downturns allows continuity and persistence to play out which are key discovery success factors.

Controlling access to ground and access to funds allowing persistence are two of the “5 answers” to successful discovery. Mark Creasy may not be a geologist but these behaviours underwrite his discovery success.

To hear the rest of the story and the rest of the “5 Answers” come along to the next “the Science of Discovery” workshop. You can register online here. Come join proven ore discoverers and thought leaders in the discovery space, we look forward to seeing you there.