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'We can make the industry really profitable without a huge lift' - Descartes Labs

Kitco News

Focusing on small incremental gains in process optimization are the biggest and easiest wins in making mining more profitable, said James Orsulak with Descartes Labs.

Orsaluk spoke with Kitco News earlier this month. He is a senior director on the business development team.

Descartes, which has its origins in Los Alamos labs, was started to solve a problem.

"How do you deal with the increasing amount of sensor data coming from satellites and space?" said Orsulak. "That's a difficult problem because sensor data constantly increases."

Descartes works in a number of industries, like agriculture, forestry and transport. In mining, Descartes has done work in operation monitoring, exploration data analysis, and supply analysis through shipping movement tracking.

Mine monitoring has come to the fore with an emphasis on tailings, said Orsulak. Some recent tailings failures have made the management of dams critical for large miners.

Orsulak said miners realize there is an urgent need to develop technologies and expertise to make tailings safe, otherwise a failure can harm the entire industry.

Looking ahead, Orsulak said the tools exist to make mines more profitable. Mines spin out lots of data, optimal for machine learning tools which can drive small but meaningful incremental improvements in process optimization.

"If we can really get good at what is going into a processing plant and how it is getting processed--the whole logistics chain--there are really big gains," said Orsulak. "We can make the industry more profitable without a huge lift. And artificial intelligence, machine learning...There is just a lot of data that exists within mines, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface."

Listen to our conversation with James Orsulak.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.