Engineering & Mining Journal

MAY 2017

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 35 of 59

EXPLORATION 34 E&MJ • MAY 2017 extending the Typhoon coverage of the property by a further 14 km 2 . When it comes to interpreting explo- ration data, block modelling remains a foundation for all planning tools, according to Hexagon Mining. Earlier this year, the company introduced Geo- Logic which, it says, leverages the pow- er of implicit modeling by sequencing surfaces and solids to create an airtight geological model. The outcome is an en- tirely reproducible, auditable geological model that can be quickly updated with new information. Hexagon claims that GeoLogic saves time by allowing geologists to explore numerous interpretative scenarios, and build complex shapes directly from drill- holes, rapidly and accurately. It allows a geologist to build a timeline of geological events to produce a series of intercon- nected MineSight solids and surfaces, ready to code into a block model. Fully integrated with the company's MineSight Planning Suite, GeoLogic fea- tures a smart vein-set creation and stra- ta-layer stacking methodology based on MineSight's true thicknesses functional- ity. It also automatically manages fault blocks and unconformities, while offering an intuitive approach to geomodelling, maintaining a fine balance between user control and guidance, Hexagon says. On Show at MinExpo A number of companies featured explo- ration-related equipment and capabilities at last year's MinExpo in Las Vegas. For example, the Atlas Copco display includ- ed two exploration drill rigs on its stand, where the focus was on operating safety. The new Atlas Copco Christensen 140 meets all international safety stan- dards and environmental requirements, the company said. In addition, features include a new gear-driven rotation unit and a constant penetration rate, which is claimed to increase productivity and lowers the costs associated with mainte- nance and downtime. Powered by a 160-kW (215-hp) Cum- mins engine, the rig is capable of drill- ing vertically to depths of up to 1,540 m (5,050 ft.) using standard-wall B core tube. For additional operator safety it can also be equipped with the Chris- tensen rod-handling system. This pro- vides hands-free rod tripping throughout the drilling cycle, meaning that there is no need to add or remove rods by hand. The company's other exploration ex- hibit there, the Diamec Smart 8, is the largest exploration rig in the Diamec range. Capable of taking cores at depths of up to 2,000 m, the rig has an advanced control system that allows all drilling, and rod and core-barrel handling, to be car- ried out automatically, allowing the oper- ator to work from a safe distance. Another Swedish company, Minalyze, exhibited its XRF-technology Minalyzer CS drill core scanner, which can analyse be- tween 12 and 20 m of core per hour. Pro- cessing of the spectral data is done locally as scanning progresses, providing immedi- ate assays on-site together with high-res- olution core photographs, specific gravity data, RQD and digital structural logging. In March the company reported that the Independence Group has become the first company to integrate a Minalyzer unit on site for routine data collection. Installed at Independence's Nova nick- el-copper-cobalt operation in Western Australia, where the first concentrates were shipped at the end of last year, the instrument is being used for target gen- eration, geometallurgy, and resource and geotechnical domaining. Part of the Australian Imdex group, Reflex launched its IQ-LOGGER last year. The company claims that core logging can now be done in one-tenth of the previous time, with results proven to be accurate and available in real-time. According to Reflex, the IQ-LOGGER is designed to ease the usually time-consuming and repetitive logging process, while the direct transfer of logging data to a cloud-based data plat- form provides a reliable digital audit trail. Data can be transferred in real time to the cloud-based REFLEXHUB-IQ, where it is integrated with data from survey and orientation tools and is then made avail- able for further analysis. At the time of the launch, prototype units were being rolled out to a number of resource com- panies for evaluation. Irish drilling equipment company Min- con reported gaining a lot of attention at MinExpo for its new premium lines of DTH, RC and rotary drill rods along with related drill string components, as well as for its reverse circulation DTH ham- mers and drill bits. Mincon states that the productivity and reliability of the tool- ing used is key to success in exploration drilling. With more efficient hammers and bits, penetration is faster and higher quality sampling is obtained, resulting in lower overall costs per meter drilled. Beginning the Upturn If the gold sector is anything to go by, the exploration business has turned the corner and is beginning to pick up again. Whether this newfound optimism can be transferred to the search for other com- modities this year remains to be seen. There is no question, however, that spending will have to increase before long, if for no other reason that resource deple- tion will become a driving force. Again, it is unclear whether companies will con- tinue to focus mainly on near-mine work, or will be prepared to resume their quest for greenfield opportunities — which, of course, will be key in the longer term. Stronger commodity prices will help. A quick look at spot price charts for the past year show all of the non-ferrous met- als trading higher than they were six or nine months ago, with copper up nearly 20% and zinc doing even better. Gold, by contrast, is still struggling, although that does not seem to be a deterrent to higher exploration spending. As Richard Schodde pointed out in his PDAC presentation: "The long-term outlook for exploration is positive. We are now at the bottom of the business cycle and subject to an expected moderate im- provement in commodity prices, global exploration expenditures are set to rise by 60% over the next four years. "It's now time to get back out in the field and start drilling!" The Minalyzer CS unit on site at the Nova nickel mine in Western Australia.

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