National Instrument NI43-101(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 most technical reports one may see a list of QP’s but most often only one or two of those QP’s will actually have been to the mine site. I have worked on numerous mining studies and not been involved in the site visit.
Normally the limited number of people taking the site visit may be due to the high cost for travel, especially if the site is remote. The logistics of travelling around with a large team, and the associated cost can be onerous. In some cases the number of personnel visiting the site may be restricted simply because there isn’t much to see at the property, yet the company needs to meet the NI43-101 requirement.
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Site inspections that I have taken part in ranged from simple tours of the property only 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. However, given the cost, this requires that one maximizes the scope of the trip.
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 be focusing on different technical areas, 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 should then be responsible for collecting their data. Sorting through information files covering different disciplines may be difficult for one person, but inspecting and photographing key parts of the site may be of value to everyone.
In addition it is useful to make first contact with local vendors and contractors on behalf of others. Ultimately spending an extra day or two at site is relatively inexpensive compared to the fixed cost of getting there.
Once back at the office, the QP should distribute and explain his findings to the rest of the team, thereby benefiting everyone with better information. I often see that post-site 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 themselves personally need. Generally the pre-trip planning is focused on timing, travel, and hotel logistics and less so on the team’s information needs.
Quick drive-by site visits meet the requirements of NI 43-101 but they don’t add much to the study quality.
If you site is complex, and would benefit from a group visit, one way to help do this by using Google Earth. I have another blog post the explains how a Zoom or Skype fly-around by someone knowledgeable with the site is useful. You can read that post at “Google Earth – Keep it On Hand“.