Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI)

Mineral Occurrence Revenue Estimation and Visualization Tool

Under a cooperative project between the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI), we have created a flexible and map-based Mineral Occurrence Revenue Estimation and Visualization (MOREV) Tool for existing and planned Alaska and Canadian railroads, including the proposed Alaska-Canada Rail Link. Estimates of carbon emissions for multi-modal shipping of mineral commodities are included in a flexible tool module.

MOREV uses existing high-quality geospatial data on metallic and non-metallic mineral resources, and other commodities for Alaska, Yukon, and British Columbia to estimate potential future revenues under pre-defined and user-generated scenarios within the existing and future railroad corridors in the region. With mineral occurrence information, it can be extended to other regions as well.

Train in front of a mountain.
The Alaska Railroad, part of the network, along with proposed ACRL routes, that the tool uses for a multi-modal shipping network for mineral and related freight.

Within the tool, users are able to select particular resource types and locations to retrieve what the estimated extractable resource amounts and associated revenue would be if an operational railroad existed nearby. Potential railroad routes can be displayed and customized by users to quickly evaluate the enhanced economic feasibility of currently stranded resources.

The revenue estimation equations and relationships underlying the tool are based on expert input from a wide variety of stakeholders in the Alaska-northwest Canada region. Present military and future national security usage, including natural disaster preparedness, of a trans-continental railroad system will also be also modeled. A web-mapping version of the tool to help users understand the tool’s functionality is planned. A site-specific version, for detailed, in-depth GIS-based analysis, is available by contacting Colin Brooks, Dr. Paul Metz, or Dr. Robert Shuchman.

Sample data tables.
Examples of the detailed emissions tables used to calculate potential carbon emissions related to mineral freight shipping.

Transportation Carbon Accounting Module (TCAM)

With the recent increased focus on energy efficiency and carbon accountability, the revenue estimation tool also incorporates carbon accounting to help users minimize carbon footprints. This includes calculating carbon footprints of user-selected multi-modal networks to ship mineral and supporting freight to continental and international destinations.

This project was part of a larger cooperative international investigation linking Alaska and Canada rail systems involving the University of Alaska, Michigan Technological University, and the University of Calgary.

Lighted area beneath aurora borealis.
The Fort Knox Gold mine near Fairbanks, Alaska. The potential revenue impacts of developing new resources such as these will be easier to calculate with the MOREV tool.
Example tool input table with charts on the side.
Example of the MOREV tool input tables, used to calculate revenue scenarios and greenhouse gas emissions
Example input table with columns of numbers.
Another example of the MOREV tool input tables, used to calculate revenue scenarios and greenhouse gas emissions
Map with a menu on the left.
The GIS interface to the MOREV tool, showing mineral deposit locations in Alaska, Yukon, and British Columbia
Google Earth map with an information bubble.
An example of displaying a revenue and shipping scenario in Google Earth using the tool's visualization capabilities