Join us in this exciting conversation with Michael Gunning, President and CEO of VR Resources (‘VR’), an established junior exploration company with headquarters in Vancouver (Canada) and projects in the western United States and Canada.
Mike founded VR in 2014 to pursue value creation via blue-sky discoveries in greenfields exploration on underexplored or unexplored, large footprint mineral systems in the western United States, focused on copper. In 2019, Mike expanded their strategy and reach to explore the Kapuskasing Shear Zone in Northern Ontario for copper-gold hydrothermal breccia systems, which led to their REE discovery at the Hecla Kilmer alkaline complex with carbonatite in 2020, and the Northway kimberlite diatreme breccia complex in 2022.
The management team at VR is multigenerational and focused on the application of new exploration technologies and modern mineral deposit models to evaluate mature geological districts from a whole new perspective, as no one has looked at them before, to seed the badly-needed discoveries at the front end of the mining industry as the Green Economy emerges, and resource demands shift.
”You do not go into an old district with an old idea and make a new discovery; mature districts require innovation for breakthroughs. We look for discoveries whether it's through applying a new drone technology or whether it's through working with Mira Geoscience on a 3D inversion using magnetic amplitude to provide insight on a complex like Hecla-Kilmer that simply could not be achieved ten years ago.-Mike Gunning, President and CEO of VR Resources
Q: What made you reach out to Mira Geoscience?
Mike: At first, it was simply industry word-of-mouth. Hecla-Kilmer is a large and complex, multiphase igneous and hydrothermal system, on one very large crack in the earth! Myself and Justin Daley, my Vice President of Exploration, felt we would benefit from an independent look at our array of data in order to optimize our drilling going forward, following the initial discovery in 2020. We were looking for an integrated approach to relate our magnetic and gravity data to geology, structure and geochemistry in drill core.
At our Northway kimberlite breccia discovery to the north, we have the challenge of cover; not just glacial till, but also a blanket of sedimentary rocks, Devonian-aged sandstone and limestone. This is blind exploration, with nothing but northern Ontario forest and bog at your feet in the field, so the key to success lies in one’s ability to utilize both new exploration technologies and modern computing power to optimize data modelling.
We reached a stage on both projects when we felt our targeting would benefit from a new set of eyes. Further, Mira Geoscience could provide a focus, the time to work exclusively on all of our data, from the geology in drill core to geochemistry and geophysics, leveraged by the power of computer analytics and machine learning that we simply did not have in the past.
The Mira Geoscience team was able to understand our needs and deliver outcomes very quickly, and that was a more efficient use of our time. They helped us process our magnetic intensity data into magnetic amplitude to remove difficult magnetic remanence issues, and then inverted it to create a robust 3D model, while explicitly incorporating the sedimentary cover into the model for more accurate interpretation.
Figure 1: Hecla-Kilmer project. RTP of TMI data (left) and magnetic amplitude data (right) generated from the Pioneer Exploration survey with drill hole locations shown as black dots. © VR Resources Ltd. All rights reserved.
Figure 2: Northway project. Cross-section through the regional 3D cover-constrained effective magnetic susceptibility model from the inversion of magnetic amplitude data. The base of sedimentary cover is shown with a white dashed line. © VR Resources Ltd. All rights reserved.
Q: Were there any challenges that Mira Geoscience helped you overcome that you were not expecting along the way?
Mike: I wouldn’t say challenges, no. I would say it was just the ability to get a different and more focused view on using magnetics and gravity in a way that we weren’t able to. The team at Mira Geoscience was able to integrate all the data, and then use that model specifically to look at the role of structure for REE mineralization, and this simply refined and improved our targeting.
That was not so much a challenge, but I would say an opportunity. We think structure is important. We believe in the quality of our magnetic and gravity data. So, we trusted in the technology and expertise within the Mira Geoscience team to be able to show us things above and beyond our own modelling.
Q: The Mira Geoscience team delivered a 3D compilation in Geoscience ANALYST. How has this solution facilitated the visualization, analysis, and dissemination of the outcomes to the team?
Mike: I will tell you in 3 bullet points:
- The data from Mira was seamlessly integrated into our ArcGIS. So, it was easy for us to work with the structural modelling and the magnetic 3D inversions from Mira Geoscience in our own system immediately.
- We literally designed our drill program this spring based on the integration of what Mira Geoscience’s team were seeing on structure and magnetics with what Justin and I were already seeing in our data.
- Ultimately it is critical to convey something that is very complex into a clear and concise exploration model and drill target, and communicate the outcomes to our audience, both internal and external to our company, and regardless of their level of expertise.
Q: Who are the main users of Geoscience ANALYST within your team?
Mike: Our VP of Exploration is the main user. I convey my exploration experience and views to the process for guidance, but with Geoscience ANALYST, Justin can take the lead on visualization of a complex data set, to understand mineralization in three dimensions, define our exploration targets more accurately, and communicate our outcomes to others more effectively.
Q: How does the future look for VR resources?
Mike: I formed this company in 2014 to explore large footprint mineral systems and achieve blue-sky discovery that has been lagging in our industry during the past 20-25 years. There are very few companies, whether majors or juniors that are actively doing this type of greenfields exploration, the R&D work at the front end of the mining sector. But when it works, this field of work follows a very steep value creation curve that makes it all worth it, and VR has three very different but equally compelling projects and drill programs on the slate this year for our shareholders.
Mira Geoscience thanks VR Resources for their contribution to this Q&A.
We are proud to support mineral exploration and mining companies in their projects to achieve successful discoveries.
For this project, our team of experts leveraged the power of Mira Geoscience’s solutions, including Geoscience ANALYST Pro Geophysics to perform the constrained inversion modelling, data clustering through machine learning using the Python API, and communication of the outcomes, and GOCAD® Mining Suite to perform the integrated 3D geological and structural modelling.
Mike Gunning, President & CEO at VR Resources Ltd.
Dr. Gunning is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience in mineral exploration and geological research. His experience spans work in federal and provincial geological surveys, exploration in North and South America with Cominco (now Teck), and proven executive leadership in the junior exploration sector, including recent success in the sale of two companies on the heels of discovery and mineral deposit delineation. He is extensively published, holds several industry awards, and is past president of numerous industry organizations. Dr. Gunning is currently focused 100% on VR Resources. He has stepped away from all previous directorships held in other public and private companies, and has refrained from any advisory roles or industry organization positions in order to achieve that focus.
Thomas Campagne, P.Geo., Senior Geophysicist at Mira Geoscience
Thomas’ expertise is in geophysical interpretation for mineral exploration. His career initially focused on supervising and conducting ground geophysical surveys, including IP, TDEM, and magnetics. His systematic approach to geophysical data processing and interpretation has evolved into 3D geologically-constrained geophysical inversion and integrated geological interpretation applied from early to late stage exploration. Thomas obtained his MSc in Geophysics from L’Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre of Strasbourg, France. He is currently based in Vancouver, Canada.
Shaun O’Connor, P.Geo., MSc, Senior Geologist at Mira Geoscience
Shaun is an exploration geologist with 10 years of experience in exploration and mineral systems modelling for gold, base metals, lithium, and industrial minerals in varied geological environments, including Cordilleran arcs and intrusions, Archean greenstone belts, and bimodal volcanic systems. Before joining Mira Geoscience, Shaun leveraged his strong geological field experience, software expertise, and talent for modelling and research to help unlock the value of geological data and revolutionize exploration frameworks for clients ranging from independent prospectors to top gold producers worldwide. Shaun obtained his MSc in geological sciences from Queen’s University and is based in Halifax, Canada.