Tag Archives: exploration

METS Ignited-backed program to fund OreFox’s AI exploration ambitions

Artificial intelligence-based geological data analytics company, OreFox, has successfully secured funding via the Queensland METS Collaborative Projects Fund to further its geological mapping efforts at the Mount Chalmers mine site in Queensland, Australia.

The Queensland METS Collaborative Projects Fund is delivered by METS Ignited with funding support from the Queensland Government as part of its Queensland Mining Equipment, Technology and Services 10 Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

OreFox is working with QMines Ltd and Ironbark Marketing to further commercialise its technology that, it says, solves a pressing challenge facing the Queensland mining sector of how to accelerate critical mineral deposit discovery and mine more efficiently.

The consortium led by OreFox will use cutting-edge proprietary AI technology to gain further knowledge of the Mount Chalmers deposit, located near Rockhampton. As a historical producing mine, there is significant potential to increase the known mineral endowment and add new economy mineral opportunities.

QMines has commenced exploration activities across the Mount Chalmers project, including an aggressive drilling program and is planning an airborne EM survey. QMines has reported an initial JORC 2012 inferred resource equal to 73,000 t of contained copper. Historical drilling at the site shows the mineralisation is open in multiple directions.

The consortium will carry out a multi-element geochemical sampling program focused on critical minerals at the mine site and other notable prospective sites around the historic mine site.

Data collected from this program, including assays from the current drilling program, will be processed by OreFox, using its machine and deep learning systems to gain further insights. QMines believes the discovery of further economic minerals will enable the company to move to development faster, thus bringing economic benefits to the region and the state.

QMines has recently acquired Traprock Resources and Rocky Copper, which both held significant tenements in the Mount Chalmers region. QMines has extended their tenement and landholding within the area since these acquisitions.

OreFox Chief Executive Officer, Warwick Anderson, said: “This project has the potential to increase exploration activity in Queensland, particularly for new economy minerals and could be applied to numerous other historical mines and deposits.

“The partnership between OreFox, QMines and Ironbark Marketing is anticipated to bring more regional jobs to Queensland and aid Queensland exploration frontiers.

“If we can prove the value of this project, then that opens the door to a significant export market for the processes we are developing.”

The OreFox project is one of five recipients of the Queensland METS Collaborative Projects Fund receiving a share in A$1 million ($733,978) to accelerate the commercialisation of technology into industry.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, said the growth centre is backing the collaborative projects to fast-track the commercialisation of innovative technologies and provide value to both the local and global resources sector.

“METS Ignited is driving collaborative projects to accelerate commercial outcomes for the Australian economy and promote collaboration opportunities as part of a long-term strategy for growth,” he said.

“We are backing projects using technologies such as sensors, data analytics, machine learning, optimised x-rays, and solar energy that result in improvements in productivity, efficiency, safety and sustainability.

“The OreFox project is a great example of how AI and data science technologies can be harnessed to improve exploration and unlock the economic benefits of a historical mine site.”

Seequent adds to cloud-based geoscience software base with Imago acquisition

Bentley Systems’ Seequent business unit has acquired Imago Inc, a developer of cloud-based software for the capture and management of geoscientific imagery.

The acquisition, which comes only a month after announcing the purchase of Aarhus GeoSoftware, will expand Seequent’s technology solutions portfolio while boosting cloud capabilities to help geoscientists and engineers solve earth, environment and energy challenges, it said.

Imago’s cloud-based platform enables the capture, cataloguing and review of drilling core and chip images from any source, to support every aspect of the geological process from exploration to grade control. Continued development of Imago’s machine learning will lead to a step function in the interpretation of geological data, according to Seequent.

Seequent said: “Mining companies around the world apply Imago’s solution in conjunction with geology data management and modelling tools to enable teams to make more confident, profitable decisions using instantly available, high-quality images. Seequent already integrates its Leapfrog, Oasis montaj, Target, and Minalytix MX Deposit with Imago’s solution, making it easy for geologists, engineers and other stakeholders to extract knowledge and learn from geoscientific imagery. The goal is to unlock significant potential for mining and other industries, transforming image data into meaningful insights for geological activities.”

Imago establishes a consistent process for capturing high-quality images, which integrate with existing workflows and allow the application of machine learning

Graham Grant, CEO of Seequent, said: “It’s an exciting step to welcome the Imago team on board to help advance Seequent’s progression into the cloud. We’re continually exploring ways to provide new technologies and solutions to solve workflow challenges, improve operational efficiency and deliver greater value for our users who are working to solve some of the world’s major civil, environmental, and energy challenges. This acquisition demonstrates Seequent’s continued growth and our commitment to make a positive contribution to the industries we serve globally.”

Imago’s Co-Founder, Federico Arboleda, said: “As a small team in Phoenix and Perth, we’re excited to join forces with Seequent, as this will now allow us to substantially scale Imago’s solutions in mining and other markets. We founded Imago to help mining companies manage the high volume and size of geological images and unlock the great value in this geoscience imagery. Image data is an increasingly important source of data across the geosciences – and can come from potentially any source, including core photos, hyperspectral, aerial photos, drones, and handheld devices. It will become even more important to transform image data into knowledge as automation needs increase.”

LKAB to trial AI-backed XRF drill core logging with help of Minalyze and Sentian

LKAB, Minalyze AB and Sentian say they have joined forces in a consortium to develop the latest technology for scanning drill core.

In March 2020, LKAB started a test with the Minalyzer CS drill core scanner where the goal was to improve the workflow for core logging – ie how the results of exploration drilling are analysed. The test led to a permanent installation in Kiruna (Sweden) and expansion to Malmberget where data from the Minalyzer CS is used to help geological logging of the drill core.

The consortium of LKAB, Minalyze and Sentian are now set to take the use of data to the next level when boreholes in LKAB’s deposits are to be investigated. The new artificial intelligence application being developed by the trio will make the analysis much faster, with the time to evaluate a drill core reduced from weeks to minutes, with increased accuracy.

This could see Minalyze’s X-ray Fluorescence-backed CS scanner analyse LKAB drill core while leveraging Sentain’s industrial artificial intelligence solutions to make real-time decisions relating to drilling and exploration activities.

The technology development driven by the consortium will be a world first, changing the entire industry, the companies say.

Jan-Anders Perdahl, Specialist at LKAB’s Exploration Department, said: “With the collaboration, the core logging takes a big step through machine learning and artificial intelligence. The geologist can, at an early stage, place greater focus on the parts of the core that show chemical or other changes. Opportunities are opened up to gain increased knowledge about ore formation processes and alterations in a completely different way than before. One can also get indications that you are close to mineralisation and where it may be located, and thereby streamline exploration.”

The technological leap will give LKAB’s staff increased competence, increased quality in and efficiency of the work, as well as reduced need for other analysis methods, according to the companies.

Annelie Lundström, CEO of Minalyze AB, said: “We are at an interesting time when the hardware to extract consistently high-resolution data from drill cores is available and we can now take the next step and generate value from data together with our customers. In this collaboration, we will develop algorithms that can map rock layers in so-called lithological logs with very high confidence. This can only be done by combining expertise from all three parties.

“The results from our collaboration will forever change how drill core logging takes place everywhere and will result in a more efficient, non-subjective and consistent process.”

Martin Rugfelt, Sentian CEO, added: “We see great power in the application of modern artificial intelligence to data from the mining industry and there is major potential in further combining our machine learning technology with Minalyze’s unique capabilities in data collection and analysis.”

IMDEX continues to connect with clients as new tech trials gain momentum

A record half-yearly revenue and progress with new technologies such as COREVIBE™, XTRACTA™ and MAGHAMMER™ has IMDEX riding a positive wave.

The company recorded revenue of A$127.9 million ($86 million) in the six months ending December 31, 2019, up from A$125 million a year ago.

IMDEX said it was present on around 70% of drilling programs globally, providing an opportunity to market a wider range of products to clients. Some 35% of its revenue in the six-month period was generated in Asia Pacific, 45% in the Americas and the balance in Africa and Europe, it explained.

And the company also singled out its cloud connectivity platform IMDEXHUB-IQ™ – which provides secure access to validated data, seamlessly transmitted from a range of sub-surface instrumentation, analytical instruments and mobile form data inputs – during the results. At the end of December 2019, IMDEX said 58 of its top 100 clients were “HUB-enabled”, up from 49 clients as at June 30, 2019.

The company completed its acquisition of Flexidrill in January and it provided an update on the status of the patent-protected drilling productivity technologies that came with this addition, COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER, in its results.

It said successful client trials with COREVIBE were undertaken throughout its financial year first half. “These trials continue to validate the significant benefits of this unique technology, including substantial increases in productivity,” it said. For the balance of its 2020 financial year, IMDEX said it has a full pipeline of client trials and was confident of converting trials into active rentals.

XTRACTA, which complements COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER by allowing drillers to change the bit when core is retrieved, has been extensively trialled at IMDEX’s test site in New Zealand for the past 12 months and client trials are scheduled to commence late in the March quarter, it said.

Development of the MAGHAMMER at its test site is also progressing well, IMDEX said, and the company intends to commence client trials in the June quarter.

South Australia government invites explorers to trawl Gawler Craton exploration data

The South Australia Government is to host a A$250,000 ($169,397) crowd-sourced open data competition to fast-track the discovery of mineral deposits in the state.

Called ‘ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge’, it will see the government partner with open innovation platform, Unearthed, in a worldwide call for geologists and data scientists to uncover new exploration targets in the state’s Gawler Craton region.

Using the Geological Survey of South Australia’s historical records, primary data and research, the competition combines geological expertise with new mathematical, machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase the number of potential drill targets across central South Australia, Unearthed said.

South Australia Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said: “This state-of-the-art competition has the potential to unearth the next Olympic Dam or Carrapateena by encouraging global thinkers and innovators to interrogate our open-file data and generate new exploration models and ideas for targeting.

“Mining is one of the pillars of the South Australian economy and this competition should add to the pipeline of projects in the resources and minerals processing sector.”

He said the state’s existing inventory of discoveries suggest there are “major prospects” and many other deposit styles and commodities to be identified, with this competition only serving to bring those internationally significant discoveries forward.

“ExploreSA is an example of the bold and progressive thinking required to assist industry in accelerating the state’s annual economic growth rate to 3%.”

All targets generated, including those from the winners of the A$250,000 prize pool, will be publicly shared to increase innovation and understanding in the resources sector by enabling access to data science approaches and modern geoscience thinking, according to Unearthed.

Unearthed Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing, Holly Bridgwater, said the competition served to leverage data science to its full potential at a time when significant new discoveries are becoming rarer.

“This exciting crowdsourcing competition and world-class open dataset will attract a global community of innovators, some whom won’t have worked in the mining industry before,” she said.

“We can’t wait to see how they will apply their diverse skills, fresh ideas and novel approaches to mineral exploration to accelerate discovery in South Australia.”

Earlier this year, OZ Minerals partnered with Unearthed on an online crowdsourcing competition to find new exploration targets at the Mount Woods tenements of the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine, in South Australia.

ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge will open early next year. To find out more, visit: https://unearthed.link/ExSAGC_IM

Major Drilling bolsters northeastern Ontario offering with Norex buy

Major Drilling Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Norex Drilling, a family-owned drilling company and leading exploration drilling contractor based in Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

The purchase price for the acquisition is valued at an amount up to C$19.7 million ($14.8 million), consisiting of cash and shares.

Denis Larocque, President & CEO of Major Drilling, said Norex had been operating successfully in the Ontario marketplace for around 40 years and had a solid reputation with its clients.

“The acquisition of Norex is a unique opportunity for Major Drilling to gain a strong position to service our customers in both surface and underground exploration drilling services in the prolific northeastern Ontario region,” he said. “The culture and operational values of both companies are very similar in terms of personnel and strategies, and this will allow us to provide our customers with expanded drilling services.”

Major Drilling is retaining the management team, is gaining access to skilled and experienced drillers and personnel, and is taking over existing contracts, according to the company.

Through the purchase, it will also acquire an additional 22 drill rigs, including 17 compatible specialised surface drill rigs and five underground drills, together with related support equipment and inventory.

For the last two years, Norex had average yearly revenue of approximately C$21 million and EBITDA of aroundC $5 million.

The company said: “While Norex’s historical performance should not be viewed as guidance for future performance, we are optimistic about the continuing growth potential in this region considering Norex’s customers’ stated plans and the current market condition in the mining industry.”

The acquisition is expected to close on or about November 1, 2019, and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Gold price rise revealing exploration deficit, Wood Mackenzie says

Even though the resurgent gold price has garnered a renewed sense of optimism in the gold industry, a lack of exploration spend from miners means it is facing a potential period of secular decline over the long-term, according to Wood Mackenzie’s gold team.

Exploration budgets were slashed following the fall in the gold price from the highs that were reached in 2011/2012 and they have since failed to recover, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“The slight rebound in exploration spend we have seen over the past couple of years has largely been focused on brownfield projects and near-mine development,” the analysts said. “This has not been sufficient to replenish mined ounces and, as such, peak gold supply is now a very real possibility.”

Over the past couple of months, with gold breaking through $1,500/oz, it seems that exploration activity may be turning a bit of a corner.

The analysts provided evidence:

  • In late June, Agnico Eagle Mines started an exploration drilling program at its Amaruq site in an effort to convert underground indicated resources;
  • On September 4, Polyus announced the completion of an exploration drill program at its Sukhoi Log project (pictured) that totalled 203,647 m and is planning 30,000 m of infill drilling in 2020; and
  • On September 10, Newcrest reported that its exploration program on the Havieron project, located 45 km east of Telfer in Australia, has four operating drill rigs, which have cut 6,166 m and a fifth drill will begin in September.

It will be some time, however, before this activity translates into reserves and ultimately into production.

Proposed exploration budgets for the largest producers in 2019 remain fairly conservative compared with the levels reached in 2012, according to the analysts. It would therefore seem unlikely that the trend in declining reserves will be abated this year.

Producers have been very vocal in reaffirming their strategy of cost control, portfolio management and capital discipline, particularly since the run up in the gold price, ensuring they do not get criticised for the same type of costly M&A and marginal project spend they carried out in the previous gold price highs.

“How steadfast miners will be to this strategy into 2020 and beyond, if prices continue to remain well supported, remains to be seen,” the analysts said.

Due to insufficient exploration spend, gold reserves have depleted significantly with the global average mine life falling from 16 years in 2012, to an estimated 11 years in 2018, they said. However, the largest producers are not facing quite such an acute situation, with their collective average mine life still over 16 years. “It is perhaps therefore not so surprising that they can afford a more calculated approach to replenishing reserves.”

To secure their longevity as pillars of the gold industry, Wood Mackenzie said it has seen heightened M&A activity and miners focusing on their core assets. While this may help to bolster balance sheets through improved operational performance and realised ‘synergies’, it seemingly does little to address the problem the industry is facing with regards to how to sustain current production levels.

“We have, as of late, noticed an uptick in some majors opting to increase their footholds in a select few juniors with promising exploration opportunities,” the analysts said.

Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti, Kinross and Newcrest are actively investing in, or entering into joint-ventures with junior gold companies to create long-term value.

Agnico Eagle announced a proposal on June 24, 2019 for an all-share acquisition of Alexandria Minerals Corporation at a $0.05 per share premium to the Chantrell Ventures Corp offer; however, O3 Mining acquired Alexandria on August 1, 2019.

AngloGold Ashanti upped its stake in Pure Gold Mining to 14.3% on July 16, 2019, which owns the Madsen gold project in Red Lake, Ontario.

Kinross purchased the near-surface, early-stage Chulbatkan project in Russia from N-Mining Limited for a total consideration of $283 million on July 31, 2019.

And, Newcrest entered into a 70-30 joint venture with Imperial Metals on August 16, 2019, where Newcrest will be the operators of the Red Chris mine, a potential ‘Tier One’ asset in British Columbia, Canada, the gold miner has said.

The analysts said: “We expect to see this trend of increased M&A activity to continue, particularly amongst the more mid-tier gold producers as they look to solidify their own positions in the industry. This will likely encompass mergers with peers to unlock shareholder value and the acquisition of assets that majors have determined to be non-core.

“This may help to progress some later stage projects into production that have been sitting on the shelf for a number of years, but we are not anticipating a knee jerk reaction to current prices. Smaller projects which have a short payback period, in a low sovereign risk jurisdiction, are an attractive proposition and we could see a number of these projects being fast tracked into production.”

And, going forward, to address the predicament of declining reserves, if prices remain elevated miners may be inclined to review their reserve and resource price assumptions, the analysts said.

IMDEX showcasing real-time and downhole exploration solutions at PDAC

IMDEX is showing off its exploration drilling wares at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual bash in Toronto, Canada.

IMDEX’s booth – incorporating the REFLEX and AMC brands – is showcasing the company’s integrated solutions and latest technologies including its AMC ULWSRU™ featuring the IMDEX MUD AID, IMDEX MOBILE software, drilling optimisation and downhole navigation solutions, and real-time 3D visualisation solutions for downhole and structural geology data, the company said.

The AMC ULWSRU, featuring the IMDEXMUD AID, has seen IMDEX combine the benefits of its ultra-lightweight solids removal unit and automated in-field drilling fluid diagnosis unit – including remote tracking technology – to optimise penetration rates, core recovery and metres drilled per bit, according to the company.

IMDEX MOBILE, meanwhile, has seen the company work closely with clients to create more than 20 ready-to-use forms and reports including daily drill reports; pre-start inspections; verified cost reports; and rig productivity reports.

All of these are available via the new off-the-shelf software, according to IMDEX.

General Manager, IMDEX Product Development, Michelle Carey, said: “We are committed to being at the forefront of dynamic solutions that deliver accurate data, whilst saving time and money for clients.”

A good example of this is the company’s IMDEX Downhole Navigation solution, according to Carey.

The company said of this solution: “As pioneers in downhole navigation, IMDEX has further enhanced its solution to support clients’ complete downhole needs. The latest integration of IMDEXHUB-IQ™ with Seequent’s Central software (pictured) means clients can now have real-time 3D visualisation of the drill hole.”

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dave Lawie, said: “Increasingly, geologists are wanting to make decisions in real-time, however, they need to have the right live data available. We’re excited to be part of this industry-first to deliver real-time 3D data, which will dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of decision-making for drilling projects.”

The company’s REFLEXGYRO SPRINT-IQ™, officially launched at last year’s PDAC event, also integrates with IMDEXHUB-IQ™ and Seequent’s Central software. This technology surveys three times faster and two times more accurately than traditional gyros, according to the company, and can survey holes at any angle and operate in single, multi-shot and continuous modes.

Sandvik focuses on exploration technology for PDAC crowd

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology will show off its exploration technology at the upcoming Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention on March 3-6, with the DE712 Core Drill Rig one of the highlights.

Experts will be on hand to discuss the rig at booth 1031 in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Sandvik said, explaining the DE712 is suitable for both directional drilling and geotechnical drilling

“This rig features a capacity of 1,126 m depth in N size and is available in both, truck- and crawler-based configurations making it easy to transport across the site. Its open and accessible design make service and maintenance tasks fast and simple,” Sandvik said.

The DE712 comes with a heavy-duty frame and a robust design, Sandvik said. It is also a space efficient drill rig featuring a drill mast supported by a strong main hoist with a failsafe brake mechanism designed for angles between vertical and 45°.

“Equipped with a powerful diesel engine, water pump and highly efficient hydraulic system, this drill is easy to learn and simple to operate while its robust and precisely engineered design has proved its durability even in the toughest working environments,” the company said.

The DE712 also features a standard automatic fire suppression system and rod spin guard, which protects the operator from the rotating rod string. The on-board Sandvik Safe-T-Spin tool provides consistent pre-torqued joint in the drill string, increasing drill rod thread life while reducing use of stillsons and other hand tools, Sandvik said.

The Sandvik booth will also feature:

  • “BSU core barrel system featuring interchangeable components and offers standard and pump-in applications in a single system. The BSU system offers greater flexibility, a more cost-efficient solution, greater safety and increased productivity. The system is user-friendly and designed for safer handling. There is no need for different coring tool systems as this multifunctional system is ideal for both surface and underground applications;
  • “A new series of impregnated diamond core bits which simplify the selection for each geological condition and deliver unsurpassed balance between best penetration rates and optimum bit life;
  • “The RE531 RC down the hole hammer (86-102 mm (3 ⅜ -4 in) designed to achieve high penetration rates in all rock conditions while providing large, uncontaminated sample return and offering increased longevity and lower cost per metre.”