Botswana Diamond Exploration Company Employs AI to Identify New Deposits

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A Botswana diamond exploration company is employing artificial intelligence (AI) to make sense of 380 gigabytes of survey data that will help identify the best places to find new deposits.

About the size of France, the landlocked Republic of Botswana in southern Africa produces more high-quality diamonds than any other country in the world, except for Russia. Jwaneng, in southern Botswana, is regarded as the world’s richest diamond mine, and Orapa, in northeast Botswana, is the world’s largest diamond mine by area.

Making the monumental decision about where the country’s next diamond mine should be leaves little room for error and is no easy task. In the case of Ireland-based Botswana Diamonds PLC, the decision requires the expert analysis of 260,000 files.

The exploration company’s current database includes 32,000 drill hole logs, 228,000 soil sample results, 606 ground geophysical surveys and 375,000 km of airborne geophysical data.

“Our mineral database in Botswana is simply vast. Too big for timely analysis by humans,” noted Botswana Diamonds chairman John Teeling. “Think of it, over 375,000 kms of geophysical data, and 32,000 drill holes logs.”

The company will getting a big assist from Planetary AI Ltd Xplore, a mineral prospectivity technology that was developed in collaboration with the UK-based International Geoscience Services Limited.

According to Botswana Diamonds, Xplore is a system that uses a unique combination of semantic technology and machine learning. Semantic technology is a branch of artificial intelligence focused on understanding and representing the meaning of data, information and knowledge in a machine-readable format.

Computers can “understand” the meaning and context of geological data in much the same way a geologist would, in order to identify zones of prospective mineralization based on specific mineral deposit models.

The system acts much like a geologist, but can function quicker and more efficiently, according to the exploration company. Vast data-sets are processed though AI that finds logical gaps in the data and learns to correct them. This exercise is expected to yield fresh insights that will offer drillable targets previously unseen.

As an added bonus for Botswana Diamonds and the Republic of Botswana, the AI-supported analysis will yield information on other valuable minerals apart from diamonds.

The company acknowledges that its use of AI is in its infancy, but believes the future potential is huge.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com



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