Published on 14.9.2022

Open source tools for mineral exploration

This year we are embarking on a massive project related to developing new open source tools for mineral exploration. The project is the result of the Exploration Information System (EIS) proposal compiled by a pan-European consortium including 17 partners from research institutes, academia, service providers and the industry lead by Geological Survey of Finland (GTK).

mineral exploration

Mineral exploration

Mineral exploration is a complex process of searching for deposits of minerals. Without going into the intricacies, making it more efficient carries numerous benefits. Accurately predicting the locations of minerals reduces the impact that mining has on ecosystems, as fewer locations have to be excavated. This also means less emissions and exploration costs, directly supporting the EU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

mineral exploration
The EU’s economy needs an increasing amount of critical raw materials, many of which are acquired by mining. Photo credit: Dominik Vanyi via unsplash

The need for the EIS project

In recent years geology has seen a rapid increase in both available data and analysis methods. Many of these advancements are applicable to mineral exploration as well. Methods such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning make it possible to utilise the available data more efficiently, thus enabling us to find prospective locations more precisely. 

However, on software level there exists no openly available yet cohesive environment to carry out a mineral prospectivity analysis in. The applicable solutions are scattered, and they encompass only small parts of the complete analysis workflow. This leads to each research group, consultant, and mining company implementing their own selection of tools. The result is a lot of duplicate work that should be avoidable and, most importantly, the ecosystem of tools becomes fragmented and undiscoverable.

The goal of the EIS project is to solve these issues by developing a set of open-source software applicable to all stages of prospectivity analysis. The main effort is to first define the typical prospectivity analysis workflows, and then implement the functionality necessary to accomplish them. As a whole, this set of software makes up a Exploration Information System, EIS.

mineral exploration
Different stages of mineral exploration.

Exploration Information System in development

The Development of the EIS project is at a very early stage. At this point, we’re heading towards two points of focus –  The EIS toolkit and the EIS QGIS wizard.

EIS toolkit

The EIS toolkit is the core of the project. Simply put, it will be developed to be a Python library in which the necessary analysis methods are implemented. Using Python is the logical choice here, as it has the most extensive ecosystem for all of the things the EIS project focuses on: modelling, machine learning, neural networks, data visualisation and spatial analyses.

EIS QGIS wizard

The EIS QGIS wizard will act as a graphical user interface to the functionality provided by EIS toolkit. Implemented on top of QGIS, the goal is to couple the advantages QGIS brings to handling geospatial data with the analytical functionality of the toolkit.

More to come!

The EIS project has only just begun – expect more info about the progress as it is happening! For more information about EIS, the website of the project is a good place to start:


Eemil Haapanen

Eemil is a geography student interested in all things GIS. Favorite aspects include map-making, data visualizations and programming. In addition to geoinformatics, Eemil has studied urban geography and environmental sciences.