AI is Put to the Test in Ontario Nickel Mining Exploration

In Mine & Quarry, Uncategorized by Jim Silva

Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential to control the costs of exploratory drilling and make worksites more efficient. 

Exploratory drilling is a necessary but costly expense for mining companies. While finding new drilling targets is essential to keep operations profitable, it can be resource-intensive to dig imprecisely. That’s why mining companies need to be confident about the sites they choose to drill in and should leverage as much information as possible to ensure that they’ve made a data-driven, accurate selection.

As the market becomes more and more competitive, companies are turning to emerging technology to make exploratory drilling more accurate and informed. Recently, Brazil’s Vale partnered with GoldSpot Discoveries to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning together to benefit mining worksites. Vale’s work with GoldSpot will focus specifically on the company’s Coleman Mine, its main base metals operation located in Sudbury, Ontario.

For mining companies willing to integrate AI and machine learning into their tech stack, the ability to analyze vast stores of historical data can be a game-changer. However, as decision-makers consider how this strategy can benefit their business, they should also be considering what other products they can invest in to keep their worksite infrastructure in optimal condition — such as dust control for haul and access roads.

The Benefits of AI in Mining

Mining companies will face a number of critical challenges in the years to come. As demand for metals increases, stakeholders need to identify new deposits in order to meet market needs. However, new deposits are likely to be deeper and more difficult to access than many of the targets already being mined. Accordingly, mining companies need to use the full range of technology available to them — such as AI and machine learning — in order to find tomorrow’s deposits.

AI and machine learning will enable mining companies to use historical data in an entirely new way, enabling decision-makers to process information generated by years of exploration and decide where and how to drill next with data-driven insights.

The Scope of Goldspot’s Partnership with Vale

Vale’s partnership with GoldSpot will focus on its nickel mining operation at the Coleman Mine. For its part, GoldSpot will process decades of information from the site with its AI and machine learning software. By working through the company’s entire database from the Coleman Mine, GoldSpot aims to analyze potential trends that have gone unrecognized over time, enabling Vale to make more informed decisions during the exploratory process. 

To do so, GoldSpot leverages experience in geoscience and machine science. These proficiencies will permit the company to synthesize Vale’s exploration data and create three-dimensional targets for ongoing exploratory drilling. Such capabilities will mark a major step in the digital transformation of Vale’s nickel mining specifically and operations as a whole.

Investing in Advanced Worksite Technology

For mining companies committed to leveraging Big Data technology, there’s an opportunity to make more effective use of years and years of proprietary data. This information may well yield critical insights that can turn raw data into cost-effective exploratory strategies. However, as mining companies consider what role this technology will play in their future, they should also be sure to invest in the worksite infrastructure that makes industrial operations possible.

With dust control from Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., for example, companies can more efficiently and cost-effectively maintain their worksite haul and access roads. Our dust control products are informed by more than four decades of experience in industrial dust control, as well as long-standing relationships with the mining industry.

If you’re looking to improve your maintenance program and cut costs doing it, the team at Midwest is uniquely positioned to assist. We take the unique attributes of each worksite into consideration — from soil composition to specific use cases — to provide the most effective dust control solution available. Whether you’re interested in a comprehensive solution from Midwest spearheaded by our team of experts or you’re just looking for a product to apply yourself, reach out to Midwest today.

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.