Yesterday’s mine through today’s technological telescope

According to Michelle Zebrak, mining exploration for technological advancement has now become a surgical procedure. (Photo: 123RF)

Mining. In Lamaque, Odyssey, Horne 5: Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the mines of the future are also of the past. New technologies, including artificial intelligence and automation, provide a new perspective on the exploitation of historical deposits.

“Some will tell you: if we want to find a mine, we’ll go and find one where there’s already one,” said Valerie Filion, director general of the Association de l’Envestment Mini du Quebec. According to him, the new technology makes it possible to capture the historical information of the “mature mining camp” in a new light.

“It’s another tool to make the most of the available data,” he continued. We no longer see the light table in geologists’ offices. “He added that the possibility of deeper and deeper drilling restores luster to previously exploited deposits, where social acceptance is usually at the meeting place and infrastructure already exists.

X-rays deeply

In this context, Valerie Filion cites two examples. Adjacent to the upcoming Odyssey mine, the Canadian Mallartic Mine Pit, whose 93-meter headframe has been visible from Route 117 since the collapse, as well as the Falco Resources Horn 5 project, a polymetallic deposit at the bottom of the old foundry of the same name. “We’re really talking about future mines, automatic,” he recalls.

Geologist Michelle Zebrac, an Emeritus professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal, agrees. “We are much more capable of creating predictive 3D geological models around areas we have already explored than in the Virgin area. He estimates that a few years ago, “the investigation was almost halved Brown field (Near mine) and in Green field (Where there are fewer mines) “, now” is done at 70% Brown field

According to him, the technological advancement of the mining industry is what radiology was in the field of medicine: mining exploration is now surgery. “You can miss a mine 50 centimeters away; Today we will look at it through geophysics and geochemistry, he explains. At depth, we can now go up to 500 meters, 1 km or even 3 km if we take the example of the fire eagle. “

A new kind of gold rush

Thus, in 2015, Junior Integra Gold, instead of mining stones, invited geological firms to mine six terabytes of databases from the old Sigma mine and 75 years of exploration and exploration of Lamak, from which 9.5 million ounces of gold have already been extracted. The key to this GoldRush competition: one million dollars.

Marketing coup to revive interest around this property, of course, but not exclusively. Already, the competition has forced the digitization of 40,000 drill hole results, noted Sylvain Leahux, vice president and general manager Eldorado Gold, who acquired the property in 2017. He believes that this stunt has allowed the company to open up the possibility of artificial intelligence.

“At the time, the goal was to start mining as soon as possible,” he recalled. When I arrived here in 2017, I was told that Lama did not have much left. We already discovered the triangle in 2017 (whose data was not included in the Goldrush database), then Ormaque in 2019. He believes that combining all the data “forces people to think differently” Not to mention that last summer’s acquisition of QMX Gold Corporation provided a new playground for Eldorado Gold. “We’re excited, because in 5 to 10 years, it’ll be even more exciting!”

Introduce yourself and explore new areas

Geologist Guy Desarnais, captain of the winning Goldrush team and one of the heads of the Osisco Gold royalty today – which collects royalties from the Lamak mine – continues to work closely with El Dorado Gold. According to him, the global context of the last two years, not conducive to travel, has again forced mining companies to take an interest in what was under their feet.

“On the other hand, I think that in order to make new discoveries of importance, we should try harder, in more difficult areas to explore, where there are few outcrops under the cover, in more by-James, to acquire geological qualifications. There, we took the risk of finding mega-deposits as we saw in the early years of ABTB development. A

He added that companies should be “forced to find new things at the same time as deposits beside already known projects”. Valerie Filion agrees. “When you get on a helicopter, you see the potential in the forest, but not in the basement. We have to go see, we have to acquire knowledge, otherwise we will never know what was under our feet.

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