UpDeep project offers a new geochemical toolset for mineral exploration

In mining, exploration is the foundation of all value creation. The search for new ideas, approaches, and technologies in exploration targeting includes new techniques for finding and extracting ore. One of the recent additions to the palette of exploration techniques in Europe is specialising on surface geochemical techniques, aka traces in plants and soil. Australia and Canada are leading in this field, but Europe has the know-how and the right geological settings to employ techniques in areas with a deep cover or remote locations.

The UpDeep project has developed a concept and web tool that can aid the exploration industry to identify and prioritise potential exploration targets by reducing time and cost while improving reliability in target detection.

Dr Vesa Nykänen, Research Professor at GTK, the Geological Survey of Finland

Nykänen has led the EIT RawMaterials funded innovation project UpDeep and presented the project results at a final seminar in March.

Geochemical expertise on deep-buried exploration

The UpDeep innovation project was launched in 2017 and has developed geochemical expertise on deep-buried exploration and anchored the knowledge as a local surface geochemical business into Europe. The surface geochemical exploration is based on analysing trace amounts of metals or ore elements in plants and soil to discover deeply buried mineralisation.

It is exciting to see UpDeep developing these methods for understanding low-level geochemical sampling.

Dr Nick Cook, President for Mawson Resources Limited, an exploration company active in the Nordic countries

Dr Cook has had his eyes on the project for a while and finds it promising.

Prioritising exploration targets with geochemical surface methods

UpDeep project has utilised existing soil partial leach and biogeochemical data from Finland, France and Greenland. A web-based data analysis and delivery platform (Gem webtool) have been developed to facilitate quick delivery of results and continuous interaction in data interpretation between the geochemical consultant and an exploration company.

The sampling method is fairly quick, and the overall costs are lower.

Jens Rönnqvist, Business Development Manager at GeoPool, a Finnish geo-consulting company

These surveys are allowed in Finland before the exploration permit is acquired.

Soil partial leaches and biogeochemistry have solid status in grassroots exploration in other continents but have as yet gained only minor ground in Europe. The driving-forces for these extremely low environmental impact sampling techniques are increased public environmental awareness and prolonged processes to gain land access permits.


  • GTK (Geological Survey of Finland), Finland (Lead Partner)
  • Ab Scandinavian Geopool Ltd, Finland
  • BRGM (The French Geological Survey), France
  • Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, GEUS, Denmark
  • Spinverse Innovation Management Oy, Finland
  • Vienna University of Technology, Austria
  • Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT, Finland
  • LTU Business AB, Sweden