November 2011    Print this article

The SIGEOM database: A group investment, an invaluable heritage, and outstanding value!

Charles Roy,
Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF)

The SIGEOM database was created by pooling geological information from government surveys and from the exploration work conducted by the mining industry over the years. This heritage of geoscientific information results from a decision made in the 1960s to create an index along with lists of government publications. To start with, the index included spatial information using townships or NTS sheets and, beginning in the 1990s, the data was computerized.

Today, the replacement cost for the data contained in SIGEOM is estimated at four billion dollars. This amount is based on an assessment of the number of occurrences of each type of data and its unit cost prior to 2004, along with the costs actually incurred by mineral exploration companies and the Québec government since 2004. This information is available in the system for managing mining credits, and in the accounting records for the government’s management system. The total estimate is a minimum, since the analysis is not based on constant dollars and diamond drilling, which makes up 50% of the work, is calculated at only $25/foot for work completed before 2004.

The SIGEOM database comprises two main assets.

The geoscientific data in the system is essentially from the fields of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, etc.

The computer systems have required the investment of $40 million since 1993. This total includes the budgets for data entry by MRNF personnel and the money spent on creating, maintaining and updating the required technology.

In conclusion, SIGEOM is a key asset for the sustainable development of Québec’s land base. It makes mineral exploration more efficient, since work does not need to be repeated over time; this reduces its ecological impact and allows companies to allocate their resources more effectively. Its value will continue to increase over time as more geoscientific data is added each year, making it an invaluable heritage!

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© Gouvernement du Québec, 2011