New Technology Strikes Gold At PDAC 2016; Wins $500KBy Neils Christensen of Kitco News
Friday March 11, 2016 14:30
(Kitco News) - Embracing new technology and innovation can pay off big in the mining sector, just ask one Quebec company that won $500,000 to breathe new life into a decommissioned mine.
SGS Geostat, a resource estimation service based in Quebec City, was in the spotlight at the Prospectors and Developer’s Association of Canada conference earlier this week for winning Integra Gold Corp’s Gold Rush Challenge.
The Gold Rush Challenge, was a the collimation of a year-long crowd sourcing experiment used to analyze 75 years worth of geophysical and historical drilling data to produce potential exploration targets throughout Integra’s Sigma/Lamaque project in Val-d'Or, Québec
SGS was one of the five submissions that presented its plan to a panel of mining experts Sunday evening. SGS’s presentation used a combination of geophysical data, computer learning technology and virtual three-dimensional modelling to highlight potential exploration targets.
It was the last two techniques that captured the attention of the crowd at PDAC 2016, and was a complete shot in the dark for SGS.
“This was new technology for the sector. We didn’t know what we were going to get when we applied the computer learning to the data,” Doug Hatfield, technical manager of development at SGS.
Guy Desharnais, technical manager of geological services added that very quickly they realized they had something with the computer learning model. Not only was the technology able to sift through 6 terabytes of data but it helped to corroborate what the geophysical data was showing.
“There was lots of data and our goal was to turn that data into actionable information,” said Hatfield. “It is a big property and there is the potential for another Lamaque-style deposit,” he said.
The SGS team discovered 14 new targets for Integra Gold to explore, and Hatfield explained that new information can be imputed into the model to help narrow and focus the company’s exploration.
Through the company’s 3-D modeling program, geologists and mining experts can literally immerse themselves in the data and look at the potential deposits. However, it is not just SGS that deserves credit for computer learning. A team of geology students from Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique in Québec City and The University of British Columbia, -- named the Data Miners -- also made it to the top five with their submission that used computer learning technology to pinpoint exploration targets. The Data Miners came in second place, winning $150,000.
As for Integra Gold, they are thrilled with the results from their crowd sourcing initiative and will incorporate the new information in their business and exploration plans.
Stephen de Jong, CEO and President of Integra Gold, said that the Gold Rush Challenge complete surpassed the company’s expectations. He added that they originally bought the Sigma/Lamaque property in 2014 for the Mill and the data was secondary.
“We currently have a fairly extensive exploration project going on in our Triangle Zone, which is about two kilometers from the Lamaque mill,” he said. “We just didn’t have time to play around with all the data that we got but we wanted to see what was there so we turned to crowd sourcing.”
In total, more than 1,300 groups from 85 countries submitted more than 100 exploration plans for the Gold Rush Challenge. “A lot of credit goes to Quebec, not only did two Quebec submissions make it to the top five but they also incorporated computer learning technology,” said de Jong.”I think this shows that there is an opportunity to bring in technology in a way that works with the physical geological data we collect.”
Of the other submissions that made it to the top five – the Goldcrushers came away with third place and $80,000, geologist Paul Pearson won $50,000 for fourth place and GoldRX won fifth and $50,000.
Integra Gold is not the first company to turn to crowd sourcing to analyse exploration data. In 2000, Rob McEwen, then CEO of Goldcorp created the Goldcorp Challenge, a world-wide initiative to find potential deposits at the company’s Red Lake mine.