Peter Winterburn

Peter Winterburn

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of British Columbia

Chair title

NSERC/AcmeLabs/Bureau Veritas Minerals Industrial Research Chair in Exploration Geochemistry

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Executive Chairholder since 2015


The discovery of new mineral deposits is increasingly risky and costly and requires effective exploration techniques. In addition, exploration activity is increasingly focused in difficult locations covered with young transported materials, such as glacial till resulting from the retreat of widespread continental-scale glaciers approximately 9000 years ago. These effectively mask mineral deposits from conventional geochemical exploration techniques. Although chemical and biological anomalies are reported in some instances above buried mineralization, the processes for the generation of these responses are poorly understood. As a result, the targets selected for expensive exploration are often poorly constrained and poorly understood.

The research program examines the relationship among mineralization, the transported cover and surface responses using inorganic, organic, genomic and geophysical tools. Using a combination of field and laboratory research, the IRC Program will develop a three-dimensional source–pathway–sink model to define the processes that form detectable and robust surface responses. The development of process-driven models will result in commercial developments using the facilities and field operations of the program sponsors. These will include novel exploration techniques, such as genomic fingerprinting and regolith mapping in glaciated terrains. Robust analytical methods, coupled with defined field-based procedures, will significantly improve the success of exploration companies. Research success, principally aimed at resolving exploration issues in Canadian till-covered environments, will result in significant economic and social benefits by delineating new mineral deposits and will decrease exploration costs by focusing on productive targets.

Dr. Winterburn took on the role of executive chairholder of the IRC following over 25 years of direct industry experience in exploration geochemistry as a global and regional geochemist with multinational corporations. In addition, he brings to the position experience in applying practical and effective exploration geochemistry methodologies and a deep understanding of the mineral exploration environment and the complexity of exploration in covered terrains. The Chair is supported by industry partners with analytical facilities and mineral exploration groups. The partners will benefit from the commercial development of analytical and exploration techniques as well as robust exploration strategies. The level of support reflects the desire for success from both the commercial analytical and exploration communities.


  • Acme DMMT Ltd.
  • Bureau Veritas
  • Anglo American Exploration (Canada) Ltd.
  • Smee and Associates Consulting Ltd.
  • Heberlein Geoconsulting
  • First Point Minerals Corporation, Vale
  • Chris Benn Consulting

Contact information

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of British Columbia



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