An eclectic mix of topics including the use of bacterial DNA to determine mineral deposits, hyperspectral imaging of core samples, and the rise of quantitative data analysis will be discussed at a two-day conference presented by leading global mining-tech company IMDEX.

The IMDEX Xploration Tech Symposium is a highly anticipated online conference to be held on January 12 and 13 featuring a range of international speakers.

Usually held in Vancouver, the conference brings together experts at the forefront of innovation in the mining and exploration industries and will examine the latest in new technologies, tools, and advanced analytics.

Among the speakers will be Chad Hewson, Manager, Geophysics and Innovation, at Teck Resources; Dr Ralf Tappert, co-founder of Hyperspectral Intelligence; and Dr Thomas Bissig, a consultant geoscientist with over 25 years of experience.

Dr Bissig and colleague, PhD student Bianca Phillips, will discuss the use of unconventional techniques for geochemical exploration including bacterial DNA, gases and selectively sampling areas where seismic pumping may have occurred to determine potential subsurface deposits.

“(Bacterial DNA) is a technique that really only has become a possibility with increased computing power and lower costs of genomic sequencing,” Dr Bissig said.

“It’s a great example of interdisciplinary research. The biologists and the geologists can work together to find deposits.”

“We’re still learning how bacteria specifically respond to the geochemistry. An example would be bacteria that eat sulphides for their energy source; if you have sulphides in the ground which typically are associated with elements of interest that we would like to mine, we can detect sulphides in DNA.”

He said early studies in Canada’s North West Territories had returned “compelling signals, much better than conventional grid sampling of soils”.

Seismic pumping is the assessment of elements brought to the surface in water during seismic events.

Dr Tappert’s focus is more traditional but one which took several years to refine; a robust, portable hyperspectral scanning tool for examining core samples.

The result is the geoLOGR rock analyser. Hyperspectral Intelligence has sold units to mining companies in Canada and South Africa.

“Spectroscopy is relatively simple technology. You just have to put it into the right instrument and make it usable for mines and exploration companies,” Dr Tappert said.

He said companies were putting more effort into collecting basic data.

“The drill core logging is the basic information that the entire mine relies upon, especially with deposits where you’ll have marginal grades. It really depends on the accuracy of your basic geological model to make the mine feasible or not.

“Companies have realised this is important, and spectroscopy plays a key role. It’s essentially the only method that you can use to collect continuous compositional information from the drill core.”

Hewson’s presentation will examine the move from qualitative to quantitative data interpretation using existing and emerging technologies.

“That could be from field portable tools or drilling technology, whether it be in-hole or in the core shack, and then methods which will transform the data into quantitative geoscience products,” Hewson said.

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