Engineering & Mining Journal

FEB 2019

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RESOURCE MODELLING 40 E&MJ • FEBRUARY 2019 to provide near-real-time grade estimates of muck piles or dumper loads. Hexagon was first approached by ge- ologists from the University of Arizona roughly 18 months ago on the heels of some talks given by Lyons-Baral on tests the company did with hyperspectral scan- ner-equipped aerial drones. They agreed to coordinate on some future research. Last summer, the team conducted re- search with stationary and airborne scan- ners at an open pit mine in Utah. "The university students and an intern at one of the mining companies processed the data," Lyons-Baral said. The aerial drone-based scanner "worked well," he said. "What is great about the UAV is if you combine it with LIDAR you can create the topography and the geologic mapping at the same time. With the pan and tilt tripod data, you need to either view as imagery in 2D or texture it to a 3D mesh after the imagery is created." The mining companies involved af- firmed the viability of and need for the tech. Next steps, Lyons-Baral said, in- volve software development. "The work flow just needs a little help so that our customers can easily adopt it," he added. Meanwhile, the research team is pre- paring to take the gig underground. The bottom of a shaft or the end of a drift may prove in some ways to be a more advantageous environment for use of hyper- spectral imaging for a couple of reasons. "What is great about underground is we control the light source," Lyons-Baral said. "We can always have a sensor with a light and we can adjust that lighting so we get very consistent results," he said. "We see the full spectra; there is no masking in any band areas, as happens above ground." Similar to how it was bolted to a drone for a pit overflight, the scanner can be mounted to equipment to generate a con- stant feed of data for use in orebody mod- elling and mine planning. "It is like your robotic geologist is out there on your au- tonomous vehicle," Lyons-Baral said. "It is sending the geology maps back to the office where someone can validate it and then say: This is that material and that is this material. We need to go this direction. This is higher grade. This is ore. This is waste." On the software side, Hexagon already offers a platform, the GIS-leveraging Geo- spatial, that can assimilate hyperspectral data. For underground, however, current- ly the plan is to update, for example, MinePlan, the company's mine planning software. "That way you can get it into your 3D drifts," Lyons-Baral said. "We are going to work on bringing in this textured data, being able to manipulate the hyper- spectral geology data on our geometries and then to be able to code that into our geologic models, our exploration models, our resource models, the block models, updating reserves." One example could be to use LIDAR to capture and map the geometry of a drift. The data from the hyperspectral scanner would be used to create a textured over- lay. "You end up with a really beautiful 3D model like you see in a video game for example," Lyons-Baral said. "The imag- ery looks as realistic as it can." The benefits include increased accu- racy, possible continuous data, and in- creased safety. The precision offered by a robust hy- perspectral scanner-based system would firstly eliminate much of the guesswork sometimes common in underground mine modelling and planning, Lyons-Baral said. "It gives you a more accurate view of what is really going on down there," he said. More accurate modelling and mapping means more ore recovered. "A lost bucket of gold is a lot of money," Lyons-Baral said. Continuous data will enable near-real- time 3D modelling and mapping. Being that the scanner can be pro- grammed to operate unmanned or re- motely, "it is safe," Lyons-Baral said. "No one has to go up to the face." Currently, the research team is part- nering with a miner in the southwestern United States. "We could end up at an underground gold, copper, zinc or moly mine, depending on the customer that wants to do it and which mine they want us to work at," Lyons-Baral said. "We've talked to groups from Arizona, Colorado and Nevada so far." While there is currently no pressing timeline to bring a product to market, the level of interest from customers could dic- tate the pace of progress, he said. "We have some market interest right now but if we see a strong demand we will ramp up," Ly- ons-Baral said. "If the mines think they are ready to do this sooner, we will accelerate." Designed to Disrupt Seequent Ltd.'s Leapfrog EDGE, released a year ago and since then widely adopt- ed by consultants and miners, is now field-proven, the company reported. Fog- arty, general manager, mining and min- erals, Seequent, warned that based on feedback coming in from the field, the software could be downright disruptive to more than just the resource modelling software space. With intuitive workflow-based tools, speed, power and dynamic modelling ca- pabilities, EDGE could democratize min- ing geology work, Fogarty said. "Our goal with EDGE was to develop a solution that wasn't for the very few but was something that was far more accessible by a wider group of geologists," he said. "Rather than having the one expert in the room, this was something that could be used by a large number of geologists." Part of the Leapfrog Geo suite, EDGE was in development for two years prior its release in Q4 2017. During that time, Leapfrog, focused on designing the soft- ware so it is easy to drive. "We got an in- dependent senior geologist to go out on a bit of a round-the-world tour and we sent him to customers all around the globe," Fogarty said. "He wasn't talking about the product. He was asking them what they felt was broken in the entire approach to resource information modelling." The result is a solution that empowers the geologist over the workflow, instead of the opposite. "We built Leapfrog Geo and EDGE as workflow-based tools," Fogarty said. "What that really means is geolo- gists can then develop their own work- flows and a process really aligned to their specific geology." Another benefit is ease of use. "We have people in our team who really focus on how it feels to run the tools," Fogarty said. "The feedback that we get from our customers is that apart from being intui- tive, it is an enjoyable suite to use." It is also easy to master, with the aver- age user learning to operate it in a matter of days, rather than months, the company reported. The primary feature, however, is mod- elling capability. "The visualization is what our customers have always expressed as be- ing one of the key benefits," Fogarty said. "With geologists just trying to get their head into the model and actually understand the geology, having really strong visualization is a critical part to that understanding." Three dimensional models update al- most at the rate at which data is uploaded

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