Tag Archives: orebody knowledge

IMDEX looks for 3D rock knowledge data with MinePortal acquisition

IMDEX says it will acquire DataCloud’s MinePortal software in a circa-A$20 million ($14.8 million) cash and shares deal that will significantly enhance the company’s data visualisation and analysis capabilities and build on its real-time orebody knowledge technology.

MinePortal is a next generation cloud-connected orebody knowledge technology which interprets and models geological data to enable real-time 3D visualisation, according to IMDEX.

It processes high volumes of data in real time, while applying geostatistical and machine learning algorithms to identify orebody trends. MinePortal contains three integrated solutions: Data Lab, Blast Intelligence and Blend Intelligence, with IMDEX intending to integrate the technology with IMDEXHUB-IQ™ and enhance the real-time orebody knowledge ecosystem.

The transaction will accelerate the development of the IMDEX BLASTDOG™ geosensing tool and enhance its value for clients by linking data obtained from both IMDEX and third-party products to deliver real-time 3D visualisation models, the company said.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said the acquisition continued the evolution of IMDEX with its focus on technology to deliver real benefits for clients throughout the mining value chain.

“The purchase of MinePortal is in line with IMDEX’s strategy to move into the production end of the mining value chain and will complement our other initiatives,” House said.

“The ability for IMDEX and DataCloud to bring together IMDEXHUB-IQ, IMDEX BLASTDOG, and MinePortal is genuinely exciting. The partnership will accelerate our product development roadmap and will benefit IMDEX, our clients and the global minerals industry.”

House said the integrated rock knowledge technology will allow visualisation of rock knowledge data in 3D, supporting enhanced decision making in real time.

“To build and view these high spatial density models in the cloud, in real time, and access them from anywhere in the world, is world class tech,” he said.

“MinePortal will enrich the value that current and future rock knowledge sensors provide clients; it has an existing presence within mining production that is readily scalable; and it increases our Software as a Service offering and will generate additional quality revenue.”

The acquisition is subject to conditions including a final vote of DataCloud shareholders to approve the transaction, which is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.

The cash and performance-based share deal involves an initial cash payment to DataCloud of A$8 million, which will secure the assets and intellectual property relating to MinePortal.

The share-based component of the deal will occur from 2022 to 2024, with a pre-agreed number of shares being issued in 2022 and 2023, and with a third tranche of shares paid in 2024, if revenue targets are achieved. On the current share price, the combined value of the share component of the deal is about A$12 million.

Key DataCloud personnel will join IMDEX, complementing the company’s existing presence on the west coast of California, and bring additional artificial intelligence and geoscience expertise.

New Gold to collaborate with MineSense in underground ore sorting move

MineSense is gearing up for a move underground with the help of New Gold and its New Afton gold-copper mine in British Columbia, Canada.

The Vancouver-based technology company has already established and proven its ShovelSense technology for the open-pit mining sector, with its X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) sensor-based system now operating on shovels, wheel loaders and excavators on a commercial basis across six operating mines. This includes large installations at Teck’s Highland Valley and Copper Mountain’s copper operations in BC, as well as one ShovelSense unit at the Antamina copper operation in Peru.

Designed for operation in extreme environments and retrofits on any existing mobile equipment, ShovelSense units come equipped with a human machine interface and proprietary algorithms that measure and report ore grade/characteristics. They can also connect directly to fleet management or other existing control software systems, enabling mine operators to reconcile geological block models with actual ore grade data.

Having finetuned the system for above-ground operations, the company is now embarking on its underground move, according to MineSense President and CEO, Jeff More.

A trial of the underground ShovelSense system at New Gold’s New Afton mine is first up to complete product development. The company will be installing a unit on a Cat R1600G LHD for this step. This will be followed closely by installation at a “large entity” in Chile – with More anticipating start up in the September or December quarter.

The development agreement with New Gold at the BC-based mine is looking to trial and finetune the system for underground operations, with More confident the ShovelSense system will stand up to the test.

“The core technology – all of the algorithms, software, hardware – is the same as ShovelSense for open-pit mining,” More said. “It is the ‘application package’ – looking at how we can attach the unit to the machine and protect it in an underground environment – that is what we have to test out. The design for this is already complete; it’s just a matter of trialling it.”

New Afton represents a good test for the system.

New Afton is Canada’s only operating block cave mine, with the New Afton deposit part of a larger copper-gold porphyry district in the region. The operation regularly mines 15,000-16,000 t/d of ore and waste, with the majority of this currently going to the mill.

The company has already pursued “ore segregation” projects to boost the grade of material being fed through to the processing side, but the move into the higher-grade C-Zone in 2023-2029 will place an even greater emphasis on ore/waste boundaries and milled tonnes at the operation.

At the same time, the ShovelSense deployment at New Afton will represent the first time MineSense has sent a unit into a mine that has so much payable gold, with most operations the company has worked on being primarily base metal-oriented.

In 2020, New Afton produced 64,000 oz of the yellow metal, along with 32,659 t of the red metal.

“This will be the first time we’re touching gold at this level; we have other mines that have payable gold but not at that level,” More explained.

In New Afton’s case, sampling and historical data has proven that the orebody’s copper and gold ratios tend to be consistent and unchanging over the long term. With this knowledge, New Afton has used technology in the past to determine the copper value and make ore/waste production decisions. ShovelSense allows New Afton to move the ore/waste production decision to the drawpoint, according to MineSense. This reduces mixing and blending during the crushing and conveying circuit which can homogenise the material to the point where it is not worth segregating.

Trialling new technology such as this is nothing new for New Afton.

The operation already uses automated loading through Sandvik’s AutoMine solution, is employing electrification with the use of Sandvik and MacLean Engineering battery-powered mobile equipment, and, in the process plant, has Gekko Systems’ highest volume InLine Pressure Jig IPJ3500 to improve gravity concentration.

More says the ShovelSense unit could be in the Cat LHD bucket at New Afton in August, with the machine then going through an above-ground trial ahead of the underground transition at the end of September.

“By early Q4, we should have completed the pilot,” he said.

Mineralogy data needs a push upstream, IMDEX’s Dr Lawie says

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.”