With prices for most mined commodities strengthening over the past year, the
mining industry is emerging from the downturn that lasted from 2012 to 2016.
As mining’s overall prospects brighten, however, two chronic problems
remain: the declining rate of new mineral discoveries and the rising cost for
each new ounce or tonne of metal or mineral added to reserves.
The modern era of mineral exploration was launched after World War II,
and after seven decades of prospectors and geologists scouring the globe,
almost all the “easy” deposits at surface have been found and mined out.
As today’s mineral explorers seek out increasingly difficult deposits, they are
becoming reliant on expensive deep-drilling and data-heavy surveying.
The good news for miners is that the rate of improvement in information
technology over the same time period has been revolutionary, and a new suite
of powerful analytical tools for mineral exploration is becoming available for
the first time.
Big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of things are some of the
new phrases that today’s mineral explorers are bringing into their workday
vocabulary as they seek new ways to achieve accelerated exploration,
discovery and production through improved accuracy in deposit-modelling
capacity — ultimately leading to new revenue streams that are achieved sooner.
Another benefit for miners is the fact that the oil and gas industry is already
several steps ahead in experiencing the disruption of the big data revolution.
Miners are able to look across at their resource-industry cousins for inspiration
and examples of best practices in bringing big data into exploration applications.
In the following pages, our roundtable of experts and thought leaders delve
into these topics and serve up their unique insights on this emerging field.