The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) has released a new 2020 report, Innovation in Mineral Exploration. The report is based on interviews with 20 individuals working actively in mineral exploration in various aspects. Case histories were developed covering specific innovations as well as the nature of mineral exploration and innovation in general. The eleven examples range from ‘big thinking’ collaborative research, to collection of quality field data, diamond drilling and core logging, and the use of machine learning and AI in data integration and analytics. For each case study, the major drivers and key factors which supported the innovation are identified. The case studies represent people and organizations of various size and areas of work in Canada to provide an understanding of a variety of factors which support innovation and mineral exploration.
The report identifies the key factors to innovation in mineral exploration as follows:
- Outside Knowledge: Outside knowledge is important and is applied to a new problem, allowing innovation to occur.
- Teamwork: Workplace culture also plays an important role. Teams of diverse individuals, operating in an environment where new ideas are welcome create innovation.
- Champion: Leadership is critical. Innovation needs champions and people willing to take risks.
- Funding: Funding is needed to get the ‘innovation’ into the commercial space. Early adopters, providing proof of concept play a key role.
- Collaboration: Collaboration allows teams to do more with less and achieve success.
The case studies profiled in the report include the following:
Imaging Deep Core Bodies: This project addresses the need for three-dimensional (3D) imaging of the sub-surface, which meant developing methods of both acquiring data and visualizing it. The inversion modelling for 3D was already well advanced, but data acquisition had not caught up. The solution was the DIAS32 cable free acquisition system – for the collection of data sets applicable to 3D modelling of IP/Resistivity geophysical data. A new company was also formed to provide services to the mining and exploration industry using the new technology.
Microbial Mine Finders: Detecting mineral deposits buried under layers of glacial deposits or material derived from erosion, is a big challenge for exploration in Canada. With potentially very weak chemical tracers present in overburden, traditional geochemical sampling techniques may not show indications of deeply buried mineralization. The solution is genomics, a combination of biology, genetics and computer science – applied to samples of soil. The samples are collected in a manner similar to standard geochemical samples, and the microbe species are identified using rapid genomic sequencing technologies. Using statistical analysis, the profiles developed from the soils can be used to create indicators of mineral deposits.
Core- A Clear Picture: Geological logging is often a bottleneck lagging behind drilling, resulting in significant delays and lack of access to timely decision-making intelligence. The solution is a more consistent and faster platform for core logging consisting of a high-resolution core imaging system and user-friendly software enhanced with machine learning, providing quick and efficient data collection.
For complete details about each case study, download the PDCA report, Innovation in Mineral Exploration.
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