Our Mining Life Cycle: Exploration, Evaluation and Development

From exploration to reclamation, mining impacts economies, societies and the environment by producing the materials necessary for modern life. At each stage of the mining life cycle, we work to create value for all stakeholders that will last beyond the life of our projects while looking out for the well-being of the environment. In this blog, the first of a 3-part series, we explore the life cycle of the various mining stages at Eldorado Gold.


Every Eldorado Gold project has two fundamental inputs: relationships and resources. We have a number of business units that manage these inputs, including Operations, Exploration, Corporate Development, Administration & Legal, Engineering, Human Resources, External Affairs and Finance.

Mining Life Cycle
Click to enlarge: Responsibly Creating Value

Effectively managing our relationships and resources can lower operating costs, reduce site disruptions, secure mine licences and permits, and accelerate Company growth and expansion. Strong relationships with all stakeholders allow us to transform resources into sustainable value.

Exploration (3–5 years)

Eldorado’s Exploration and Corporate Development units actively look for potential assets within our focus jurisdictions and in new regions.

Exploration field work, Romania. 

They assess early and advanced-stage exploration projects and conduct near-mine and grassroots exploration programs with the goal of adding value through discovery in order to increase our resources and reserves.

During grassroots exploration, our Exploration teams visit prospective areas to introduce themselves to local communities and conduct geological surveys and sampling programs. Often, our Exploration teams partner with other companies to benefit from their local knowledge and experience.

Whenever possible, we work with local suppliers and hire local employees and contractors in order to share the value generated by our mineral-exploration investments with communities. If results indicate a mineralized deposit, drilling programs are undertaken to define the resources and reserves that inform the evaluation and development stage of a project.

Exploration is the first step to unlocking the sustainable development benefits of mining for host communities and countries.

Key Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of Exploration
  • Minimal environmental impacts such as drill holes and access roads that are relatively simple to remediate if a project does not advance
  • Exploration investments may introduce local communities to new technologies and infrastructure as well as educational and employment opportunities that can foster further sustainable development
  • Increased industrial activity can result in real or perceived social and environmental impacts. Eldorado’s Exploration teams engage with local communities to understand and address these impacts

Evaluation and Development (5+ years)

During the development stage, our Engineering, Technical Services and Metallurgy teams conduct pre-feasibility and feasibility studies to determine:

  • Optimal mining methods and mineral-recovery processes for each project
  • Required infrastructure
  • Optimal facility placement and design, based on thorough impact and mitigation assessments
  • Required mine monitoring, closure and reclamation plans
  • Economic viability of a project A critical step in the evaluation and development phase is conducting extensive environmental testing to establish baseline data for air, water, soil and biodiversity.
Eldorado Gold Quebec – Lamaque mine

This information becomes part of the project’s environmental impact assessment (“EIA”), which must be completed and approved by the relevant authorities before a mine can be developed.

Throughout the environmental permitting process, we engage and consult with local communities, businesses and government to address the social and environmental impacts of our projects. By considering the technical, social and environmental parameters of the project, we are able to determine the capital costs required for development and the longer-term economics of the project. At this point, capital investment and construction decisions are made based on the economic, social and environmental merits of the project.

Key Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of Evaluation and Development
  • Investments in local and regional economies are made as technical contractors are hired and work is done on site to assess the technical and environmental design of a project
  • Infrastructure development and environmental-protection initiatives, such as road improvements, water access, and environmental reclamation may take place based on local conditions

Following, in the second part of this series, we’ll look at the next stages in our mining life cycle: Construction; and Mining and Processing.  More information can also be found in our 2019 Sustainability Report.

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