GoldSpot Discoveries takes a deep dive into data mining: Quant shop uses artificial intelligence as a useful tool to find new deposits.

AuthorRoss, Ian

Mining and exploration companies are inherent hoarders when it comes to collecting and storing mountains of data.

But the layers and volume of all this technical information can outstrip people's ability to put the pieces in place to unlock the hidden value of a prospective piece of ground.

That's what Denis Laviolette often noticed while working for a major Toronto financing firm when junior mining companies would come through the door looking for exploration capital.

"The data is paid for and is just sitting there," said Laviolette, a professional geologist who worked in Kirkland Lake, Timmins, Red Lake, and internationally before getting into the field of analytics.

"Someone just needs to come in with new tools and new technology to extract the value out of it." It's what spurred him to create GoldSpot Discoveries and become its CEO in 2016.

The artificial intelligence (AI) mine tech company uses a proprietary machine-learning algorithm to process millions of data points to identify targets for exploration drilling.

The fast-growing, 30-employee company, which won accolades as a finalist in the 2016 Integra Gold Rush Challenge and Goldcorp's #DisruptMining Challenge in 2017, became the first AI mine tech company to go public, listing on the TSX-Venture Exchange early last year.

Heralded by the mining media as taking a "Moneyball" approach to geophysics--a comparison to the 2011 Brad Pitt film Laviolette is only too happy to run with--his company is making inroads into Northern Ontario.

He likens his company's approach to a 1950s-era doctor being handed a CAT scan and having no idea how to interpret it.

"If someone handed me raw geophysical data, I wouldn't know where to start."

Headquartered in downtown Toronto with a tech hub in Montreal, GoldSpot brought two worlds of thinking together, blending a team of geologists and geophysicists with data scientists and engineers.

Like peeling the layers of an onion, GoldSpot uses machine learning to "interrogate" data sets to pick out patterns and previously unrecognized trends to help find new discoveries on a property-level or regional scale.

With exploration dollars scarce and fewer major discoveries being made, progressive companies are willing to embrace new technology to de-risk their projects, cut exploration costs, and improve their mineral hit rate.

"We often think that mining has been in the Stone Age--it never has been," said Laviolette.

GoldSpot has found a receptive audience from...

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