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From Drill to Data: How AI is Transforming Mineral Exploration

From Drill to Data: How AI is Transforming Mineral Exploration

01 August 2023

The need for critical minerals powering the economic transition away from fossil fuels is exploding. To put this into context, demand for lithium (critical batteries that power electric vehicles, not to mention wind and solar farms) has tripled over the last five years, according to the International Energy Agency.

Understandably, this has got people freaking out over the potential for ‘careless’ exploration and development by mining companies.

Could the use of AI come to the rescue?

Artificial Intelligence could help humans find new sources for substances such as lithium, cobalt, copper, and nickel potentially quicker and, theoretically, with less of an impact environmentally than previous methods.

Well, that’s the message from a trio of start-ups in America that have recently managed to close impressive venture rounds. Each start-up is using AI to address exploration – with a view to helping mining companies find concealed mineral deposits.

One company uses AI to identify places where minerals exist, once found it finds partners to follow through with exploration, discovery, and extraction. The second company uses machine learning and scientific data to narrow down prospects for exploration. Its technology is only used for projects where it is of interest.

Whereas the third start-up company’s approach combines “robot geologists” that use hyperspectral data sensors, high-resolution imagery, and X-ray fluorescence to examine rock samples – essentially creating a digital “twin” of a deposit using samples. The mission is to help human geologists gather data quicker from cores drilled at a site than is possible using manual techniques.

The power of AI is constantly evolving and it’s going to be even more interesting how Artificial Intelligence will impact the mineral mining industry…we’re looking forward to keeping up to date!