OreFox, an artificial intelligence-based geological data analytics company that provides analytics to mining and exploration companies has secured funding via the Queensland METS Collaborative Projects Fund. OreFox is undertaking geological mapping efforts at a Mount Chalmers mine site in Queensland, Australia.
The AI company has partnered with QMines Ltd. and Ironbark Marketing to commercialise its revolutionary technology with the aim of solving critical challenges for the mining industry. Exploring and discovering mineral deposits more efficiently could mean faster results for miners, investors and less long-term cash burn.
A Critical First Project
OreFox is backed by some key investors that include the Queensland University of Technology, and the new funding from the Queensland METS Collaborative Project Fund comes from METS Ignited, which has support from the Queensland Government. The government outlined a 10-year roadmap recently called the Queensland Mining Equipment, Technology Services Roadmap and Action Plan, with the goal of improving the Queensland mining sector’s efficiency and profitability while reducing emissions.
The Mount Chalmers deposit will be a testing ground for the AI-driven technology. OreFox and the consortium it leads hope to gain more knowledge of the deposit, a historical producing mine. The potential for the mine lies in discovering new economic mineral opportunities and increasing the known mineral endowment. QMines has already begun exploration activities at the Mount Chalmers project that includes an aggressive drilling program, and OreFox aims to improve on that program.
Machine and Deep Learning Systems
A multi-element geochemical sampling program focused on critical minerals at the mine site will be carried out, but that won’t be the only focus. The consortium will also explore at other notable prospective sites around the historic mine site, with OreFox providing and testing its technology to improve the efficiency of the operation. Data collected, including assays from the current drill program, will be processed by OreFox using machine and deep learning systems.
These systems learn from the historical data so as to find the patterns and project future discovery probabilities onto the site. OreFox aims to provide further insight into the project than could normally be gleaned from a standard report. If the project is successful, QMines thinks that any discovery or more economic minerals will allow the project to move to development much faster, and eventually production as the Mount Chalmers mine has the potential to bring significant economic benefits to the region and the state.
Long-Term Exploration Potential
CEO of OreFox Warwick Anderson commented, “This project has the potential to increase exploration activity in Queensland, particularly for new economy minerals, and could be applied to numerous other historical mines and deposits. The partnership between OreFox, QMines, and Ironbark Marketing is anticipated to bring more regional jobs to Queensland and aid Queensland exploration frontiers. If we can prove the value of this project, then that opens the door to a significant export market for the processes we are developing.”
METS Ignited CEO Adrian Beer said in a statement that, “METS Ignited is driving collaborative projects to accelerate commercial outcomes for the Australian economy and promote collaboration opportunities as part of a long-term strategy for growth. We are backing projects using technology such as sensors, data analytics, machine learning optimised x-rays, and solar energy that result in improvement in productivity, efficiency, safety, and sustainability. The OreFox project is a great example of how AI and data science technologies can be harnessed to improve exploration and unlock the economic benefits of a historical mine site.”
The mining industry is barreling toward a more sustainable, technologically-advanced model, with AI playing an ever-important role at every level of the process. Artificial intelligence drives much of the operations at the back-office level for large corporations in the industry, and as it plays a larger role in the mining operations, companies may come to find that companies like OreFox have quite a bit to offer during exploration, discovery, and even production.