Tag Archives: IMDEX ioGAS

In-field mineral analysis key to unlocking further exploration dollars, IMDEX says

Exploration companies planning to cash in on the rush of capital into the mining sector risk losing out if they fail to take advantage of the latest tools to deliver real-time results from drilling programs, according to IMDEX.

Exploration activity is on the up ‒ spurred on by strong commodity prices supported by government stimulus, decarbonisation targets and demand across a broad range of sectors, the mining tech company says, referencing an Australia-focused exploration report from BDO.

In a sign of the surge in activity, there are reports of long delays at minerals testing laboratories in Western Australia, with miners and drillers waiting weeks for results, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX General Manager Product Development, Mark Gabbitus, said while verified laboratory samples were vital for mine planning, real-time in-field data also played an important part in decision making.

“The problem explorers face is that by the time they get the results back from a laboratory ‒ if it’s the only data they have ‒ it’s too late to make changes to the drilling program,” he said. “The holes have all been drilled and the rig is off site.

“IMDEX allows the geologist in the field to get quality data in near-real time that will allow them to make informed decisions. This data might not be the same as they use to build a model and make a billion-dollar investment to mine, but it is still material.

“With this real-time data, the geologist can make informed decisions about where to drill next, thereby maximising their limited exploration dollars.”

Additionally, using in-field solutions from IMDEX allows the geologist to decide which samples to send to the lab, or at least to prioritise which samples they need back quickly, helping them beat lab delays, according to Gabbitus.

“Capital will move to those who move quickly. Explorers who take weeks or months to get assay results risk being left behind,” he added. “With trusted data that shows promising results, you then have the opportunity to raise more cash or just change the way you go about drilling by drilling efficient holes.”

Gabbitus concluded: “Having indicative results from the field will help to put exploration and mining companies, alike, ahead of their competitors.”

IMDEX has a suite of downhole survey tools, core orientation and gamma logging technologies and in-field sampling and analysis products all linked to cloud-connected IMDEX HUB-IQ™ and data analysis software IMDEX ioGAS™.

Near-infrared tech can help solve sampling problems, IMDEX’s Dr Pontual says

Mineralogical data can be used across the entire mining value chain, from exploration to production, to build a detailed picture of a project, according to one of the world’s leading spectral mineralogy experts.

Dr Sasha Pontual, who developed aiSIRIS – a cloud-based artificial intelligence spectral interpretation software for portable spectrometer data – told an IMDEX Xploration Tech Symposium that mineralogy was critical for avoiding potentially costly surprises.

aiSIRIS (Artificial Intelligence Spectral InfraRed Interpretation System) is a proven technology that has processed more than two million spectra from more than 1,000 mining projects across the globe, according to Dr Pontual.

Dr Pontual joined IMDEX as Global Product Manager, Automated Mineralogy, when her company, AusSpec, was acquired by IMDEX in 2020.

“Historically, mineralogy sampling has not been adequate, with exploration companies relying more on the assay data and the geochemistry rather than actually using the mineral information,” Dr Pontual said. “We really need to know our rocks. This allows for decisions to be made in an informed way.

“Previously it has been based on low-density sampling. There are big volumes of samples spread through a deposit, but a lot of the work is associated with extrapolating the results from those low-density samples and basing some very critical decisions on small amounts of sample material.”

Dr Pontual says this low-density sampling is often not sufficient to get a detailed view of what is happening within a deposit.

“(This leads to) unwanted surprises during the mine life,” she said. “Some of them can be quite serious and lead to millions of dollars of loss and have serious adverse effects on the economics of a deposit.”

Dr Pontual said near-infrared technology could be used to determine mineral types and associations, mineral chemistry and crystallinity, in exploration to vector to potential mineralisation, in life of mine studies and mine planning, and at brownfields sites to extend known mineralisation.

Hand-held near-infrared tools offered ease of use, speed of collecting project-wide data sets and provided data that can be easily integrated with geochemical data.

“Hand-held spectrometers are still the fastest and most cost-effective way of collecting project-wide mineralogy,” Dr Pontual said. “The combination of an infrared spectral survey with a geochemical survey is very powerful because you’re then integrating that mineral information with your geochemical data.

“The complementary data sets allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the alteration system and the deposit.”

Hand-held spectrometers deliver substantial amounts of data for analysis, but “it’s no use getting volumes of data that are difficult to apply and to visualise in a geological context”, according to Dr Pontual.

“Industry requires accuracy and comprehensive information with detailed mineralogy, but with outputs that are easy to use,” she said.

Information needs to be standardised across projects and within companies, according to Dr Pontual.

Machine learning is the best way of getting accuracy and to train a system to be able to interpret the spectra in the same way as a spectral expert, she said.

Dr Pontual added: “This is how we developed the aiSIRIS system. This is a training set of real-world spectra that has all the variables built into it. We have close to two million real-world spectra and each one has been interpreted to an expert level.

“The system is very robust across a whole range of different geologies and different spectrometers and geological settings. You don’t need to do any preparatory work you can just go straight to your project, measure the spectra and analyse the spectra using the tool because you don’t need to create a project-specific spectral library for your project.”

aiSIRIS complements IMDEX’s existing in-field GeoAnalysis solution and integrates with IMDEX ioGAS™ software to provide further interpretation and analysis, the company said.

IMDEX accelerates cloud-connected solutions on COVID-19-related demand

IMDEX says interest in its cloud-connected technologies has spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, the positive effect of which will flow through for the next 10 years.

There has been strong interest in IMDEX’s software technologies including IMDEX HUB-IQ™, IMDEX MUD AID™ and IMDEX IoGas™, it said, with registrations for webinars on digital workflow and training for data-related products having jumped.

Adoption of IMDEX EZ-TRAC™, a digital downhole survey instrument that uploads data to IMDEX HUB-IQ, has also doubled in the past 12 months, according to the company.

IMDEX Chief Executive, Paul House, said the new ways of working had accelerated the adoption of some of its products and training services by as much as 12 months.

“Things like our online training platform, IMDEX Academy; we had this training platform available to our employees but not our clients at the beginning of COVID-19,” House said. “It was an important project to us, but it wasn’t urgent. When COVID-19 came along, it went from being important to being urgent, and it accelerated both that product’s development and the time to market almost overnight.”

IMDEX is at least 12 months ahead on the rollout of its online training platform because of the adoption rate during the pandemic, it said.

Registrations for webinars and training related to digital products have increased significantly, with the most recent webinar on digital workflow attracting about 500 registrations, compared with previous webinars with no more than 100, IMDEX said.

House says IMDEX can move the knowledge base of the industry quickly.

“It’s a conversation in the marketplace, it validates our leadership position and our domain knowledge ownership, it’s transformational for us and that will pay off for us for the next 10 years,” he said.

“Where would usually have to ask customers to consider a change in behaviour, to take a leap of faith, all of those things are being pulled into the market rather than pushed. The processes that are being disrupted have a solution, which is some of our IMDEX solutions.”

House concluded: “We always say once you have started working with our solutions, you won’t go back. So, the adoption rate is faster, and the conversation rate is locked in.”

Making the most of cloud-connected drilling tech during COVID-19

Drilling contractors and resource companies impacted by COVID-19 restrictions can continue to operate by using cloud-connected sensors that deliver and analyse critical data, according to IMDEX.

Despite restrictions disrupting travel and work, IMDEX says key staff can still make time-critical decisions backed by accurate data delivered in real-time.

IMDEX says most of its clients have indicated they intend to keep operating while working within government-imposed restrictions in each region globally, and with the main priority of keeping their workers safe.

“People are still trying to work,” IMDEX Structural-IQ Global Product Manager, Nick Payne, said. “We are working with all our clients to find solutions to keep them operating and safe in these difficult circumstances.”

Existing IMDEX clients using a range of instruments already have access to the IMDEXHUB-IQ™, which the company says is a secure, cloud-based portal for validating field data transmitted from the drill rig.

IMDEXHUB-IQ Global Product Manager, Tara Bennett-Connell, said this was the perfect time to access, review and take time to analyse data, using IMDEXHUB-IQ.

It is ideal for applications across the exploration life cycle, providing efficient drill hole and sample data management, from daily reporting and QA requirements to structural logging, survey, and geochemical analysis, according to the company.

While IMDEX HUB-IQ was available free to clients already using IMDEX tools, some companies were still opting to use tools where data was being transferred via email and USBs, according to Bennett-Connell.

“More secure, efficient and reliable methods are available, and when you can’t get access to the data through those old methods, it’s time to change,” she said.

IMDEX clients were assured of data security, it said, with IMDEX HUB-IQ having been certified against the rigorous standards of ISO/IEC 27001:2013, an international information security standard recognised in 161 countries.

Other IMDEX technologies that can keep clients working from home include geochemistry and structural geology analytics instrument IMDEX ioGAS™. This is an exploratory data analysis software application that enables users to perform exploratory data analysis, machine learning and predictive analytics, according to the company.

The software can be used in conjunction with REFLEX IQ-Logger™ and IMDEX MUD AID™, IMDEX says.

Payne said now was the right time to consolidate and verify structural data collected by the Reflex IQ-Logger and available in the IMDEXHUB-IQ, and conduct a rigorous structural assessment using IMDEX ioGAS, all of which can be done while working from home.

“Drill programs can be re-assessed and modified, with the new plan available in the IMDEXHUB-IQ for when drilling resumes,” IMDEX said.

Payne said the critical difference for clients using IMDEX ioGAS was that licences could be altered to allow operators to use it on PCs.

“More than half of the people who have IMDEX ioGAS have a server-based licence,” Payne said. “If you cannot access your server, we can change the licence to your PC, and you can keep working.”

It is not just geological data delivery and interpretation that IMDEX solutions can provide for remote scenarios, the company says. IMDEX MUD AID is a remotely monitored, automated in-field diagnosis unit which enables remote assessment of drilling fluids, negating the need for a mud engineer on-site, according to the company.