The resources sector creates problems for itself from the first drill hole to production by not acquiring the right data at the right time, according to IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dr Dave Lawie.
Speaking ahead of an IMDEX webinar to be delivered to coincide with this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s virtual conference, Dr Lawie said that with the technology now available there was no longer any excuses for failing to have enough data to make informed decisions at every point in the mining process.
“The industry wants to find, define and mine ‒ but that has to be done with speed and precision and that can only be achieved with reliable data at the right time, which is as early in the process as possible,” Dr Lawie said.
The IMDEX PDAC webinar ‒ What’s the real value of data? Pulling Decision Points Upstream ‒ will feature presentations from IMDEX Drilling Optimisation General Manager, Charles MacFadyen (The importance of drilling smarter metres); Automated Mineralogy Global Product Manager, Sasha Pontual (Digital mineralogy: why it is important for exploration and mining); and Geochemist and Senior Software Analyst, Putra Sadikin (IMDEX ioGAS: Analytics from the upstream to your desk).
Dr John Steen, the Director at Canada’s Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining, has said lack of orebody knowledge leaves companies vulnerable to unforeseen costs which, in some cases, could threaten a mine’s viability.
Substantial write-downs have been attributed to less-than-expected ore grades, access issues which required revised mine planning, and process recovery problems, all of which could be avoided with better orebody data, according to IMDEX.
Dr Lawie said IMDEX technology enabled exploration companies to “drill smart metres” by drilling fast, efficiently and getting early-stage data.
“Doing that, which can include digital mineralogy, in the early phases allows you to get your exploration done, to test more targets and to evaluate them while you are involved in the drilling program,” he said.
At the “define stage”, resources are often not brought into production because there are complications apart from grade often related to mineral recovery, deleterious components, different levels of hardness, which stem from a lack of orebody knowledge, Dr Lawie added.
“Mineralogy is a key component in the define phase ‒ it is in exploration, but it comes into its own in the define phase ‒ because it has so many downstream impacts on mining,” Dr Lawie said. “Push all that information upstream and you can move through the resource definition phase into mining with a lot more confidence because you won’t be trying to fix a problem with mineralogy at the mining phase.
“That sounds trivial, but it’s not, and it’s the causation of a lot of stranded resources. People have not acquired adequate data early enough; they get downstream and want to develop a mine plan so they conduct metallurgical tests which reveal problems that they could already have known about.”
Referring to the third presentation in the webinar, Dr Lawie said IMDEX ioGAS™, an exploratory data analysis software application developed specifically for the resources industry, allowed complex data interrogation to be made quickly and easily.
“To be able to make import decisions in these data-rich environments ‒ and the amount of data is only going to increase ‒ you need to make extracting information accessible,” he said. “IoGAS has been doing that for more than a decade.”