Goldcorp hopes AI technology can improve gold exploration

Goldcorp and IBM Canada have co-authored what they term “an innovative first of a kind technology product” to improve predictability for gold mineralisation.

IBM Exploration with Watson applies artificial intelligence to predict the potential for gold mineralisation and uses powerful search and query capabilities across a range of exploration datasets, according to Goldcorp.

“The potential to radically accelerate exploration target identification combined with significantly improved hit rates on economic mineralisation has the potential to drive a step-change in the pace of value growth in the industry,” said Todd White, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Goldcorp.

Developed using data from Goldcorp’s Red Lake Gold Mines in northern Ontario, IBM Exploration with Watson leverages spatial analytics, machine learning and predictive models, helping explorers locate key information and develop geological extrapolations in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods, Goldcorp says.

Mark Fawcett, Partner with IBM Canada, said: “Applying the power of IBM Watson to these unique challenges differentiates us in the natural resources industry. We are using accelerated computing power for complex geospatial queries that can harmonise geological data from an entire site on a single platform. This is the first time this solution has been ever used, which makes this project all the more significant.”

At Goldcorp’s Red Lake operations, IBM Exploration with Watson provided independent support to drill targets planned by geologists via traditional methods and proposed new targets which were subsequently verified. Drilling of some of these new targets is ongoing, with the first target yielding the predicted mineralisation at the expected depth.

Maura Kolb, Goldcorp’s Exploration Manager at Red Lake Gold Mines, said: “Timelines are short in mining and exploration. I am excited to see the improvements we can make with the data platform and gold mineralisation predictions. These tools can help us view data in totally new ways. We have already begun to test the Watson targets from the predictive model through drilling, and results have been impressive so far.”

The IBM Watson initiative recently earned Goldcorp a prestigious Ingenious Award in the large private sector category from the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). The ITAC award for Goldcorp’s Cognitive Journey recognises excellence in the use of information and communications technology by organisations to solve problems, improve performance, introduce new services, and grow business.

Goldcorp says it will put the new technology to work on additional targets in 2019.

Back in September, fellow Canada-based gold company Falco Resources said Albert Mining, a leader in the use of AI, had used its pattern recognition algorithms, CARDS, to locate some 50 gold anomalies in addition to a number of other copper, zinc and silver signatures.