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Breakthrough technologies for mineral exploration

Kazuya Okada
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Kazuya Okada: Ocean High Technology Institute, Inc.

Mineral Economics, 2022, vol. 35, issue 3, No 8, 429-454

Abstract: Abstract Breakthrough technologies for mineral exploration are discussed from two perspectives. The first perspective is intended to discuss the important factors required for exploration technologies, derived deductively from a review of the role and expectations of exploration in the mining industry and the current situation of the mining industry. The second perspective is intended to discuss the common characteristics of breakthrough technologies for mineral exploration derived inductively from a review of specific examples of technological breakthroughs that actually brought about innovation to exploration: e.g. induced polarization (IP); airborne electromagnetics (EM); airborne gravity gradiometry (AGG); spectroscopic methods; global navigation satellite system (GNSS); unmanned survey platform; and neural networks/deep learning. The specific issues to be solved as breakthroughs in exploration technology in the near future are summarized as follows: (1) Significant improvement in economic efficiency, namely: labor-saving, automated or unmanned operation, e.g. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based exploration and automatic spectroscopic scanning of drill cores; higher accessing capability, e.g. improvement of various airborne exploration techniques including airborne EM, AGG, and especially airborne IP; higher work efficiency and productivity, e.g. automatic data processing by neural networks/deep learning; and lower cost to implement, e.g. less expensive platforms such as UAVs. (2) To obtain information that is really needed for exploration, specifically: IP effect of sulfide minerals associated with mineralization, i.e. practical spectral IP (SIP); geophysical characterization of the deep underground, e.g. enhancement of superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID)-based time-domain electromagnetic (TDEM); and removal of effects of the surface layer, e.g. very conductive deeply-weathered overburden and younger volcanics rich in magnetic minerals. (3) To obtain information that could not be obtained by the conventional methods, specifically: distribution of endmember minerals related to mineralization, i.e. hyperspectral mapping with high spatial resolution.

Keywords: Airborne; Breakthrough technology; Deep learning; Electromagnetics (EM); Gravity gradiometry; Induced polarization (IP); Mineral exploration; Neural networks; Remote sensing; Spectral; Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s13563-022-00317-3

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