AI in mining takes root in the industry

The mining industry has used technologies such as advanced machinery, satellite imagery and hypersensitive measurement tools. However, the industry is just beginning to use AI in mining, which has the potential to save workers time and companies money.

Geospatial analysis and data science vendor Descartes Lab has many customers in the mining sector, with a few packaged products specifically for customers in that area. Based in Santa Fe, N.M., the 2014 startup spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy weapons research center.

The mining sector is in the early stages of using AI technologies, said James Orsulak, senior director of enterprise sales at Descartes Labs. Still, he said, almost all of the company’s clients have small data science teams made up of highly skilled experts.

“We’re seeing a transition where there are more former geologists who went back to school to get a data science degree,” Orsulak said.

Astral imagery

The Descartes Labs platforms for mining companies combine data sets from NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), an advanced imaging instrument on the Terra satellite, with AI and analytics.

Vendors like Descartes Labs sell AI in mining technology.

Descartes Labs ingested the entire dataset from ASTER, a process that took many CPU hours, Orsulak said. Using machine learning, Descartes Labs then removed all the structures, clouds and snow from the satellite images, leaving only a bare earth model.

We’re seeing a transition where there are more former geologists who went back to school to get a data science degree.
James OrsulakSenior director of enterprise sales, Descartes Labs

Mining clients then combine their data with the platform and layer in other types of data on the model, including mineral classification, geochemistry and geophysics data.

The platform, among other things, can be used to find new mineral deposits with machine…

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