Exploration companies planning to cash in on the rush of capital into the mining sector risk losing out if they fail to take advantage of the latest tools to deliver real-time results from drilling programs, according to leading mining-tech company IMDEX.
Exploration activity is surging globally — spurred on by strong commodity prices supported by government stimulus, decarbonisation targets and demand across a broad range of sectors including consumer, industrial and government-related industries.
Advisory firm BDO Australia reported in December that the cash position of ASX listed explorers was at its strongest since June 2013, with 74 per cent of exploration companies reporting a cash balance of $1 million or more.
BDO said access to funding peaked at a two-year high, with total financing inflows reaching $2.02 billion in the September quarter — a 51 per cent increase from the $1.34 billion recorded in June.
In a sign of the surge in activity, there are reports of long delays at minerals testing laboratories in Western Australia, with miners and drillers waiting weeks for results.
IMDEX General Manager Product Development Mark Gabbitus said while verified laboratory samples where vital for mine planning, real-time infield data also played an important part in decision making.
“The problem explorers face is that by the time they get the results back from a laboratory — if it’s the only data they have — it’s too late to make changes to the drilling program. The holes have all been drilled and the rig is off site,” Mr Gabbitus said.
“IMDEX allows the geologist in the field to get quality data in near-real time that will allow them to make informed decisions. This data might not be the same as that they use to build a model and make a billion-dollar investment to mine, but it is still material.
“With this real-time data, the geologist can make informed decisions about where to drill next, thereby maximising their limited exploration dollars.
“Additionally, using the infield solutions from IMDEX allows the geologist to decide which samples to send to the lab or at least to prioritise which samples they need back quickly, helping them beat the delays at the laboratories.
“Capital will move to those who move quickly. Explorers who take weeks or months to get assay results risk being left behind.
“With trusted data that shows promising results, you then have the opportunity to raise more cash or just change the way you go about drilling by drilling efficient holes.
“Having indicative results from the field will help to put exploration and mining companies alike ahead of their competitors.”
IMDEX has a suite of downhole survey tools, core orientation and gamma logging technologies and in-field sampling and analysis products all linked to cloud-connected IMDEX HUB-IQTM and data analysis software IMDEX ioGASTM.
IMDEX General Manager Product Management Mark Gabbitus is available for interview.