In 1971, while waiting for his doctoral thesis to be assessed by the University of Manitoba, Peter Laznicka undertook a short-term contract of work with Australian Selection Trust, traversing the eastern seaboard of Australia from Cape York Peninsula in the north, to the island of Tasmania in the south. As an aid to memory, he compiled suites of small samples onto sheets of stout cardboard as he went. Not only did those assist Peter in making objective comparisons over vast tracts of country, but provided a medium through which company geologists could learn and contribute their own experience. This period marked the birth of DM and cemented the importance of empiricism in Data Metallogenica's approach to geological data. Sets of mini samples in time became known as the Lithotheque collection, still at the core of DM's mineral deposit information system. Early sets included many lithological samples. Later, collecting focused more closely on the mineral deposits themselves, but lithology continued to be well represented as an important dimension of regional setting.

The first sample sets were still mounted on original cardboard (now on aluminum sheets) when Data Metallogenica and the Laznicka family moved to Australia in mid-1999. Browsing Lithotheque plate sets #1 to #77 is an amazingly accessible traverse across a continent, which brings home the power to instruct of such a vast range of lithologies and deposits organised like a book library. To take just one example: side by side can be examined, the Herberton tin district, Georgetown Inlier, Mt Isa, Charters Towers, Ravenswood, Gympie, New England, Broken Hill, the Lachlan fold belt of New South Wales, Cobar, Hill End, Captain's Flat, Melbourne Trough, Zeehan, Renison Bell, and Rosebery. Even more tellingly, mines such as Captain's Flat (Zn-Pb-Cu VMS) in New South Wales, long closed and rehabilitated, signal the strategic strength of DM to preserve samples from deposits no longer accessible for later generations of explorers and educators.

On his return from Australia and successful acceptance of his thesis, Peter was appointed Assistant Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Manitoba, where in 1974 he published the blueprint for what was to be the future Data Metallogenica information system. It was entitled, "LITHOTHEQUE - a System of Rock and Mineral Specimens Arrangement in Geological Education, Documentation and Exploration", Publication No. 5 for the Centre for Precambrian Studies. As Peter put it in his report:

"The word 'Lithotheque' (equivalent to bibliotheque) has been used for a system (library) of plates carrying rock or mineral specimens."

"…a collection…arranged and permanently mounted on book-size…plates…designed to be stored in simple holders on bookshelves…(where) ease of handling…(is) comparable…to similar properties of book or report libraries."

"… collect an all-embracing set of mini-specimens covering the entire petrography and mineralogy of an outcrop, mine, stratigraphic unit, etc., and add a few ordinary size specimens of selected rocks and minerals for special purposes."

"Fifteen carefully selected mini-specimens show always many more features than a single, large specimen."

"Specimens, more than anything else, can confirm or disprove the similarity of ore deposits; the published literature often fails because geologists….use different terminology."

The Lithotheque collection at that time (1974) contained 7,500 mini-specimens, or approximately 10% of what it had grown to by January 2003, and is being added to all the time.

For more than thirty years Peter has travelled the world at every opportunity, collecting samples from mineral deposits and searching out information. What Peter and his family achieved prior to his retirement from the university in 1999 is amazing. Development of DM, however, did not stop there, and continues apace in Australia where Peter and his geologist wife Sarka have taken up residence, and where they worked at the new Data Metallogenica Centre until July 2004.

The Data Metallogenica Centre in Adelaide opened its doors in December 1999, the culmination of efforts by AMIRA International and the Australian Mineral Foundation, and with assistance from the government of South Australia. Development funding for an initial period of 3-years was provided by contributions from almost 70 companies and institutions around the world, to further Peter's wish that Data Metallogenica should remain in the public domain. This first AMIRA Project (P554) set out to fill significant gaps in the sample collection, revise and augment deposit information, carry out semi-quantitative mineralogical measurement on samples, digitally image the Lithotheque collection, and established a web-based Data Metallogenica web site and subscriber database.

This was achieved by July 2002, when a searchable database of 20,000 files of images, text and measurement (approx 2.5 Gb) was launched for the use of project sponsors. A further 2-year follow-on program of sponsored development (AMIRA Project P554A) commenced in December 2002, tasked with adding significant new mineral deposit information to the database: notably, full deposit descriptions, field photogalleries, plans, sections and regional summaries. Samples from missing deposits continued to be added and the important program of high resolution digital photography of samples was extended. This project was completed in November 2004. During the course of the project, the AMF was placed into liquidation and full ownership of the collection passed to AMIRA International.

A full list of AMIRA Foundation Sponsors and Donors is provided on the DM homepage (in addition, former sponsors now controlled by other companies include Centaur Mining & Exploration, Delta Gold, Gawler Gold, Homestake Gold of Australia, Mount Isa Mines, New Hampton, Normandy Exploration, North Limited, Ranger Minerals, Ross Mining and WMC).

In March 2003 the Toronto PDAC Convention and Trade show in Canada saw the official launch of the web database to public subscribers.

Data Metallogenica receives no government subsidy and after January 2005 has to cover its own running costs through subscription revenues, as well as additional sponsorships. Its parent organisation, AMIRA International, is a not-for-profit minerals industry research association, which needs industry and teaching institutions worldwide to support DM through their active participation if it is to continue to fulfil our vision of providing unique information to succeeding generations of explorers and educators.

Future plans for Data Metallogenica are for an ever widening range of linked industry website information sources, including the fields of mining and metallurgy.

If you or your organisation do not already subscribe to Data Metallogenica On-line, please take a few moments to contact us for further information, or click for a faxable subscription form in Australian Currency or US Currency.

For further information please contact: Dr. Alan Goode or Dr. Kerry O'Sullivan