National Instrument 43-101(6.2) specifies that “before an issuer files a technical report, the issuer must have at least one qualified person (“QP”) who is responsible for preparing or supervising the preparation of all or part of the technical report complete a current inspection on the property that is the subject of the technical report.”
In some technical reports one may see a long list of QP’s but often only one or two have actually made a site visit. I have worked on numerous mining studies and not been involved in the site inspection.
In most cases the limited number of people completing a site visit may be due to the high cost for travel to a remote site, the logistics of travelling around with a large team, and the associated fees for the personnel to attend. In some cases the site visit personnel may be restricted simply because there isn’t much to see at the property. In other instances, only a few persons were able to coordinate schedules given the timing of visit.
Given the logistics of a site inspection, get the best bang for your buck
Site inspections that I have taken part in ranged from simple tours of the property taking photographs to more detailed data room reviews, meeting the owner’s team, meeting with vendors and contractors.
In my opinion the more advanced the study the more important the site visit becomes. This includes optimizing the scope of the visit.
At the feasibility stage it is important that several QP’s complete one or more site visits at the same time if possible. They need to see and hear the same things. Obviously the QP’s will eventually focus on different areas of responsibility, but the over-riding message should be consistent to the entire team.
For an earlier study stage (e.g. PEA), it is less critical that a large team complete the site visit. However I would recommend that the QP making the site visit be in prior contact with the team members to determine what information they will want to see.
The visiting QP is responsible to collect their data. Sorting through information files covering different disciplines may be difficult for one person, but inspecting and photographing key sites may be of value to everyone.
In addition making first contact with local vendors and contractors on behalf of others will be useful. Ultimately spending an extra day or two at site is relatively inexpensive compared to the fixed cost of the travel. Once back at the office, the QP should distribute his findings to the rest of the team, benefiting the team with better information. I have often seen that this post-visit information sharing does not happen.
The bottom line is that rarely I have seen pre-site visit data gathering lists prepared for the QP . In many cases the QP simply collects the information they need. Generally the pre-trip planning is focused on travel and hotel logistics and less so on team information needs.
Quick drive-by site visits meet the requirements of NI 43-101 but they don’t add much to the study quality. One way to partly enhance team awareness is with Google Earth; read the blog “Google Earth – Keep it On Hand” to learn more on this.