WMS-SEG Senior Exploration Management Short Course

WMS-SEG Senior Exploration Management Short Course

Organizer: Society of Economic Geologists

Presented by: Western Mining Services (WMS) - Jon Hronsky, Steven Bussey, and Jeff Welborn

Date: Tuesday, October 29 - Friday, November 1, 2024

Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm MDT (UTC-6)

Location: SEG Headquarters in Littleton, Colorado, United States



This 3.5-day in-person course, Senior Exploration Management, will cover the key principles and practices that are vital for success within the modern mineral exploration industry. Presented by the experienced team at Western Mining Services, the curriculum will focus on a broad spectrum of technical and business issues that senior exploration managers typically encounter during their tenure, including how to best work with and manage the concepts and drivers that underlie the various components of mineral exploration projects.

Topics to be covered include the following:

  • Developing and implementing an effective exploration strategy
  • Managing the strategic issues and mineral exploration parameters that are unique to junior explorers
  • The critical role of targeting in the mineral exploration business and the most relevant modern methodologies
  • Informed, disciplined decision-making, program design, and portfolio management
  • Attracting and maintaining high-quality, engaged exploration personnel
  • Identifying program showstoppers and integrating non-technical risk management into exploration programs and projects at the strategic scale
  • Acquiring and maintaining the essential license to operate
  • Minerals access - negotiating the transactions and deals that are necessary to support an effective exploration strategy


The course format utilizes both dynamic lectures and group-based activities, emphasizing interactive thinking and problem solving throughout. It will develop critical thinking around concepts and approaches that will enable participants to become more successful project managers and explorers. Participants work in teams to grapple with exploration challenges and then present their solutions to the larger group. Participants should attend the course prepared to be involved.

Who Should Attend

WMS is committed to making certain that the SEM course continues to be relevant and yields value to the course participants. This course is ideal for regional and country exploration managers, for project managers who are on track to move into positions of senior responsibility, and for geoscientists who aspire to senior exploration management roles. The course is also recommended for commercial managers who participate in mineral exploration programs, government and academic professionals who interact with the mineral exploration industry and mining-industry focused investment professionals who seek a deeper understanding of the dynamics of mineral exploration.

Tuesday, October 29, 2024

8:30am: Venue Safety Induction; SEG Informational

8:45am: Introduce Presenters and Participants; Course Overview

9:30am: Module 1: The Mineral Exploration Business Environment

10:30am: Break

11:00am: Module 2: Principles and Philosophies

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Module 2: Principles and Philosophies (continued)

2:00pm: Introduce Challenge Exercise, Teams, Tasks 1 and 2 / Team Discussions

3:00pm: Break

3:30pm: Module 3: Developing an Effective Strategy

3:30pm: Module 3: Developing and Implementing an Effective Strategy

4:30pm: Module 4: Portfolio Management and Decision Point Planning

5:30pm: Adjourn to Social Gathering

Wednesdady, October 30, 2024

8:30am: Group Discussion – Day 1 Questions/Comments

9:00am: Module 5: Mineral Exploration Tactics

10:00am: Module 6: Commercial Risk Management at Operational Scale

10:30am: Break

11:00am: Module 6: Commercial Risk Management at Operational Scale (continued)

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Module 6: Commercial Risk Management at Operational Scale (continued)

2:00pm: Module 7: Mineral Exploration Targeting (Part 1)

3:00pm: Break; Task #2 Preparation

Thursday, October 31, 2024

8:30am: Group Discussion - Task #2 Workshop

9:30am: Module 8: Mineral Exploration Targeting (Part 2)

10:30am: Break

11:00am: Module 8: Mineral Exploration Targeting (Part 2) (continued)

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Module 9: Managing the Exploration Group – Culture and People

3:00pm: Break; Challenge Exercise Preparation

Friday, November 1, 2024

8:30am: Exploration Challenge Exercise Task #1 Presentations

10:30am: Break

11:00am: Critique and Discuss Presentations; Winning Team; Feedback; Wrap-up

12:30pm: Lunch Available for Those Who Want to Stay

Module 1 (1 hour): The Mineral Exploration Business Environment

  • The Mineral Exploration Business Cycle
  • The Global Context for Mineral Exploration
  • Exploration Expenditure Trends
  • Discovery Cost Trends
  • The Exploration Value Proposition

Module 2 (2 hours): Principles and Philosophies

  • Key Concepts: Search Space, Base Rate and False Positives, LTOV, Valuing Opportunities
  • Fundamental Strategic Principles
  • Acquisition vs. Exploration — Buy or Explore?
  • Greenfield Exploration Philosophy
  • Brownfield and Greenfield: Characteristics and Balance
  • Concepts and Principles Unique to Juniors
  • Exploration Technology
  • The Basic Role Of R&D In Exploration

Module 3 (1 hour): Developing an Effective Exploration Strategy

  • Why Develop a Strategy — The Value Proposition
  • The Strategic Context
  • Exploration Search Space, Strategy, Showstoppers, and The Time Factor
  • The Strategy Content — Aspirations, Strategic Business Choices
  • The Process of Developing the Strategy

Module 4 (1 hour): Portfolio Management and Decision Point Planning

  • Goals and the System
  • Budget Allocation — Decision Point Planning
  • Early Economic Analysis
  • Project Ranking
  • Gating and Project Scale Review
  • Portfolio Scale Review

Module 5 (1 hour): Mineral Exploration Tactics

  • Prospecting vs. Systematic Exploration
  • Effective vs. Successful Exploration
  • The Assembly Line — Exploration as a Linear Sequence of Stages
  • Optimising Sampling Density
  • The 3D Jigsaw — Building the Contextual Geological Framework
  • Stratigraphic Drilling
  • Project Scale Search Space Analysis
  • Unexplorable Projects
  • Recognising Which Anomalies are Valid Targets
  • False Positives and the Characteristics of a High-Quality Target
  • Managing Exploration Success

Module 6 (2.5 hours): Commercial Risk Management at the Operational Scale

  • Part 1: The Process
    • CRM Pitfalls
    • Stakeholder Management
    • The CRM Role in Project Planning and Risk Managment
  • Part 2: Negotiating and Documenting Mineral Transactions
  • Summary and Workshops (2)

Module 7 (1 hour): Mineral Exploration Targeting (Part 1)

  • Introduction and Overview
  • Targeting Science
  • The Business Interface
  • Deposit Size-Frequency Distributions and Zipf’s Law
  • Targeting Under Cover

Module 8 (2.5 hours): Mineral Exploration Targeting (Part 2)

  • Applying the Mineral Systems Concept
  • Mineral Systems Framework 1
  • Mineral Systems Framework 2
  • The Importance of Deposit Clustering
  • Building Target Models
  • Applying Target Models
  • Interaction with Data
  • Target Ranking

Module 9 (1.5 hours): Managing the Exploration Group — Culture and People

  • Performance and Key Success Factors
  • Creativity, Innovation, Pattern Recognition, and Expertise
  • Decision-Making under Uncertainty — Understanding the Heuristics
  • Managing the Effects of Heuristics and Biases
  • Building and Retaining a High-Quality Team



Jon Hronsky

Jon has more than forty years of experience in the global mineral exploration industry, primarily focused on project generation, technical innovation and exploration strategy development. He has worked across a diverse range of commodities and geographies, and has particular expertise in targeting for nickel sulfide and gold deposits. His targeting work led to the discovery of the West Musgrave nickel sulfide province in Western Australia, and he also worked closely with the teams that discovered the world-class Gruyere gold and Venus nickel deposits. His experience includes leadership roles in both major mining and junior mining companies, and he has consulted globally for the last 17 years. He was the 2009 Society of Economic Geology Distinguished Lecturer. In January 2019 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the mining industry. In 2023, he received the Society of Economic Geology’s Silver Medal, which is awarded for "excellence in original work in the geology of mineral deposits."

Jon was a founder and previous Chairman of the Board of the Center for Exploration Targeting in Western Australia, former Chairman of the Australian Geoscience Council (the peak body for geoscience organisations in Australia) and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of WA. Jon joined WMS in 2007. Prior to that, he was Manager-Strategy & Generative Services for BHP Billiton Mineral Exploration and Global Geoscience Leader for WMC Resources Ltd.


Steven Bussey

Steve has more than forty years of experience in mineral exploration, including seventeen years as a partner in WMS. He is a distinguished field geologist and is an expert in the application of GIS to mineral exploration. His experience includes building structured GIS datasets for project evaluation, spatial data modeling for new target definition, and management of exploration programs and projects.

Prior to joining WMS in 2007, Steve worked in a number of senior exploration roles, including Principal Geoscientist, for WMC Resources Ltd. At WMS, Steve's focus has been on framework studies, mineral exploration targeting and project due diligence. Steve has developed expertise in exploration for skarn-hosted deposits, and he had a key role on the team that discovered the world-class Media Luna skarn-hosted gold-silver-copper deposit in Mexico in 2012.


Jeff Welborn

Jeff has over fifty years' experience in the mineral exploration industry – twenty-five years as a mining, oil & gas and natural resources lawyer in private practice; nine years in corporate senior management roles in WMC Resources Ltd; and nineteen years as a co-founder/partner at WMS. He assists WMS clients with commercial strategy development, program design and planning, deal analysis and negotiation and with management of issues that involve minerals and land access.

Jeff's experience covers a broad range of commercial, legal and risk management matters that comprise the non-technical side of mineral exploration and mining. His focus is on commercial, legal, and business risk management at the senior management level. Jeff works with mining and exploration companies on program design, non-technical due diligence and business risk management in the pursuit of growth opportunities globally.

Venue and Accommodation

This event will be held in the Course Center at SEG Headquarters. A block of rooms has been reserved at a discount for course participants at the nearby Hampton Inn & Suites, which is approximately 0.4 miles from venue, and an 8-10 minute walk.

Course Center at SEG Headquarters
7811 Shaffer Pkwy
Littleton, CO 80127
United States

Course Center Details


Early deadline: October 11, 2024
Regular deadline: October 25, 2024

Maximum participants: 30

  Early Regular
SEG Member US$2,995 US$3,095
Non-member US$3,295 US$3,395
All prices are in United States dollars (USD). SEG reserves the right to cancel this event should minimum attendance numbers not be met by September 27, 2024. All registrants will be given a full refund should SEG cancel the course. Cancellation policy, event photography, dietary restrictions, and more are detailed in the SEG Terms and Conditions.
10/29/2024 8:00 AM - 11/1/2024 5:00 PM
Course Center at SEG Headquarters 7811 Shaffer Pkwy Littleton, CO 80127 UNITED STATES
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