Goldcorp and IBM pioneer orebody discovery and predictability solution

by Kathrine Moore

THE RED LAKE mining district in north-western Ontario spans ~420,000 hectares (roughly 60km x 70km) and has produced over 29 million ounces of gold since 1949. Goldcorp Inc.’s [G-TSX, GG-NYSE] now Newmont Goldcorp, operations in the Red Lake gold mining district include the Red Lake and Campbell underground mines and processing facilities as well as Cochenour, a potential new source of ore.

According to Goldcorp, over 80 years worth of data has been collected in the district. It is no simple matter interpreting and analyzing that amount of data. In 2017, Goldcorp began working with IBM to find ways to unlock the information in the mountains of available data using Watson. Watson, according to IBM is a, “suite of enterprise ready AI services, applications and tools powered by the latest innovations in machine learning.”

Goldcorp explains, in a November 7, 2018 company blog post celebrating the receipt of a Ingenious Award from the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), “Traditionally, geologists could spend up to 80% of their analytical time searching for and preparing data, and only 20% interpreting and analyzing the data. Watson’s big advantage over conventional computer systems is its ability to ingest and process massive amounts of data faster and more accurately than conventional systems.” The ITAC award “recognizes excellence in the use of information and communications technology by organizations to solve problems, improve performance, introduce new services, and grow business.”

On November 26, 2018, Goldcorp reported, “At Red Lake, IBM Exploration with Watson provided independent support to drill targets planned by geologists via traditional methods and proposed new targets, which were subsequently verified. Drilling of some of these new targets is continuing with the first target yielding the predicted mineralization at the expected depth.”

Robin Fell, Director, Strategic Technologies Goldcorp said, “One of the benefits of using technology like this is that we can find patterns and correlations in data that we haven’t previously seen.” Watson is learning to think like a geologist as it processes information from millions of core samples, 3D models, and geological data and even hand drawn maps.

“Applying the power of IBM Watson to these unique challenges differentiates us in the natural resources industry,” said Mark Fawcett, partner with IBM Canada. “We are using accelerated computing power for complex geospatial queries that can harmonize geological data from an entire site on a single platform. This is the first time this solution has been ever used, which makes this project all the more significant.”

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