HomeExplorationThe value of open data in mineral exploration for Africa

The value of open data in mineral exploration for Africa

With the recent announcement that the South Australian Marshall Liberal Government will be the first government globally to host a $250 000 crowdsourced competition to fast-track the discovery of mineral deposits in South Australia, what can African nations and explorers gain from leveraging open data initiatives?

The ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge competition is a partnership between the South Australian Marshall Liberal Government and open innovation platform, Unearthed, in a world-wide call for geologists and data scientists to uncover new exploration targets in the state’s highly prospective Gawler Craton region, which currently includes BHP’s Olympic Dam, OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill and Carrapateena copper-gold deposits.

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“This state-of-the-art competition has the potential to unearth the next Olympic Dam or Carrapateena by encouraging global thinkers and innovators to interrogate our open-file data and generate new exploration models and ideas for targeting,” said Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

The South Australian government is the custodian of an extensive amount of geological data across the state, be that data the government has collected to support exploration activities or data they host that has been recorded by private companies. However, historically it has been a challenge for people to process this data at scale.

Crowdsourcing enables the government to readily share this considerable collection of datasets with people from different disciplines around the globe who can apply their diverse experience and skills to mineral targeting. It also empowers these data scientists, geoscientists and mathematicians to collaborate and work through the data in novel ways. This encourages the development of new workflows, through the application of emerging machine learning and analytical processes to exploration geology.

Unearthed Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing, Holly Bridgwater attests that crowdsourcing open exploration data also provides a unique opportunity to combine hundreds of models and targets from independent experts into one model, boosting confidence in the targets generated.

“This model to combine diverse thought into consensus reduces uncertainty, dramatically shortens the exploration lifecycle and may significantly increase mineral discovery rates,” said Bridgwater.

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All targets generated through ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge, including those from the winners of the $250 000 prize pool, will be publicly shared to increase innovation and understanding in the resources sector by enabling access to data science approaches and modern geoscience thinking.

The rationale used to discover targets will also be outlined, so those interested can interact with the outcomes, while participating innovators retain full intellectual property and gain recognition for their work.

ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge that launches in early March 2020.