The overall aim of West Africa Exploration Initiative (WAXI) is to enhance the opportunities for exploration success in the highly-prospective Leo-Man Shield through an integrated program of research and data gathering and interpretation. There are three interdependent and overarching aims in undertaking this initiative; to assist exploration companies in focusing their activities in areas of maximum prospectivity, assist local Geological Surveys in their role of providing pre-competitive data and to help the local higher education institutions build a sustainable capacity for the future.
The WAXI project will directly fund a number of capacity building activities, but will also work with other organisations and networks to help reinforce capacity wherever possible. The CB program will be led by researchers from two institutions (namely the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France) which both have the development of research and training capacity in Africa as priority activities.
The CB activities directly funded by WAXI are aimed at young geoscientists, university departments and geological surveys according to their primary roles and will support these different groups according to their developmental requirements.
- Student Scholarships and Research Support
The WAXI project will directly support a number ofMasters/PhD projects and these postgraduate students will carry out a portion of the research with eventual publication in research theses. It is highly unlikely, however, that the PhD projects will be completed within the life of this project.
In addition, several students and postdocs are already in projects running in parallel with the WAXI project in West Africa, funded either by individual companies or by government scholarships. The research team will continue to build on this list. Whilst not accessing funds directly from the WAXI project, they will benefit from the intellectual support provided by the WAXI network of researchers.
- Research Training Courses
This project will develop and deliver at least six seven-day training courses over the life of the project (supplied at cost to company sponsors). Typically these courses will be held in Ouagadougou, however field excursions and training requiring specific equipment may be held elsewhere. The topics for these training courses will be defined in collaboration with the company sponsors, however topics that were highlighted by the gaps analysis include:
- Advanced structural analysis & Interpretation of regional geophysical datasets (regional field scale)
- Applied mining geology, held on mine sites
- Remote sensing
- Exploration geochemistry (field)
- Exploration geochemistry (laboratory techniques)
- Ore deposit geology
- Techniques in the study of ore deposits
- Fluid Inclusion techniques in the study of ore deposits
- Exploration geophysics
- 3D modelling
- Field geotraverses
- Mine visits
- Basin analysis within sedimentary and volcanic successions
- Dating of magmatic, metamorphic, deformation and mineralisation events
- Structural Geophysics Manual
The research partners have drawn upon their extensive background in the geological interpretation of regional geophysical datasets to write a Manual entitled “Structural Geophysics: the geological interpretation of regional geophysical datasets”. The content will first be delivered as a course to sponsors, surveys, and selected students, and will include examples from cratonic datasets in Africa and Australia and will explore both theoretical and applied aspects of data collection, processing, interpretation and modelling (Appendix A). The Manual will be a deliverable to all Sponsors in year three of the project.
- Access to Data Metallogenica
AMIRA International will offer free access to Researchers to utilise Data Metallogenica (see Appendix B for details), the world’s premier encyclopaedia of ore deposits, for both research and training purposes. Local government Institutions will also be offered free access to Data Metallogenica for the duration of the project. In lieu of this offer, it is expected that if mine-based studies are carried out within the auspices of this project access to representative rock and ore samples and other non-confidential generic data could be included in Data Metallogenica at the conclusion of the project.
- Research management training
As part of the WAXI project, the Research team will work with West Africa universities and government geoscience agencies to build capacity in attracting company sponsorship for development programs, for realizing student bursary schemes, and for developing service-delivery capability to the exploration and mining sector. Currently there is a short-fall in the numbers of well trained geoscience and engineering graduates available to the exploration and mining sector in West African (and Africa), and building capacity in this area could provide a key to opening the door to growth in other areas in the physical sciences and engineering.