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Goldcorp credits artificial intelligence with forecasting first-hole results

by Greg Klein | November 27, 2018

Assays are pending but IBM’s Watson AI technology has already helped human geologists choose drill locations “with the first target yielding the predicted mineralization at the expected depth,” Goldcorp TSX:G announced. Drilling continues at other AI-suggested spots on the northwestern Ontario Red Lake project.

Goldcorp credits AI with forecasting first-hole results

Goldcorp hopes a joint AI/human program
will extend Red Lake’s mine life. (Photo: Goldcorp)

Having collaborated with IBM since 2017, the miner said Watson scrutinized previous info using spatial analytics, machine learning and predictive models “to develop geological extrapolations in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods.” The project’s data bank goes back 80 years.

“This is the first time this solution has been ever used, which makes this project all the more significant,” stated IBM Canada partner Mark Fawcett.

Earlier this month Goldcorp’s use of AI won an Ingenious Award from the Information Technology Association of Canada in recognition of “excellence and innovation in the use of information and communications technology.” At the time Goldcorp noted that geologists “could spend up to 80% of their analytical time searching for and preparing data, and only 20% interpreting and analyzing the data. Watson’s big advantage over conventional computer systems is its ability to ingest and process massive amounts of data faster and more accurately than conventional systems.”

Having given up 29 million gold ounces since 1949, Red Lake currently hosts proven and probable reserves totalling 2.17 million ounces. Two underground operations on the complex are expected to produce 235,000 ounces this year. But the company emphasized Watson’s potential for finding new areas of mineralization on the 42,000-hectare property.

Along with other sponsors, Goldcorp presents the third annual #DisruptMining award on March 3 at PDAC. The winning proposal brings its technological innovator a US$1-million investment or contract. Last year’s winner was Acoustic Zoom, a geophysics company specializing in innovative seismic work. Two companies shared the previous year’s prize, with Cementation Canada getting the $650,000 portion for a process of transporting ore to surface using a pump-driven pipeline loop. KORE Geosystems won the remainder for its proposal to apply AI to geoscientific data.

#DisruptMining was preceded by the Online Gold Rush Challenge hosted by Integra Gold (since taken over by Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD) at PDAC in 2016. SGS Geostat won $500,000 for its innovative analysis of 75 years of data from Integra’s Sigma/Lamaque project in Quebec’s Abitibi region.

Goldcorp president/CEO David Garofalo has told PDAC, “In the future, every mining company will be a technology company.”

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