SAGA 2019 is the biennial meeting of the exploration and mining geophysical community. It was held in Durban, South Africa, from 6 to 9th October. Participants mostly came from South-Africa, Canada and Australia but Europe was represented through its technology developers and H2020 initiatives like INFACT and Smart Exploration.

INFACT was well represented with 5 partners being active contributors to the event: Geotech, Aarhus Geophysics, First Quantum, Anglo American, and HZDR.

The conference has a high technical level and keeps a reasonable size (approx. 120 attendees) allowing for informal discussions all along the week. With an excellent work done by Professors of the University of the Witwatersrand, students are actively involved in the conference and contribute to the technical programme.

Among the many interesting presentations of the week I would retain a few relevant to our project:

  • Airborne Geophysics: Past, Present and Future – Louis Polome (Spectrem). A very nice overview of the technological trends in Airborne Geophysics.
  • Artificial Intelligence Techniques to the Interpretation of Geophysical Measurements – David Pratt (Tensor Research). An important talk to understand how tensor data can be integrated in the Exploration programme.
  • DHEM at Las Cruces, Spain – Successes and Failures – Gavin Selfe (Geo Focus). An interesting case study of down-hole EM on one of the INFACT reference sites.
  • IP effects demand rethinking the time-depth relationship and sensitivity in TDEM measurements –Andrea Viezzoli (Aarhus Geophysics). Presenting some of the results of the Airborne IP response in the Rio Tinto waste rocks piles, an INFACT reference site
  • South Africa’s multi-disciplinary geoscience mapping programme – David Khoza (CGS). A very ambitious programme from the Council for Geoscience including AEM and Airborne Hyperspectral.

The presentation of the project was well received by the community, and in particular the joint interpretation of geological and geophysical models at each site. The amount of high-quality data generated interest from the research community to develop new integration methods and INFACT is looking forward to formalise partnerships with universities and consultants on this topic… maybe the launch of an official data integration contest!

Participating to this conference was extremely valuable for INFACT as it generated more trust from industry in the technical credibility of the work performed. The project made numerous contacts with technology developers to come over to the project’s reference sites, covering AEM, drone-borne radiometrics, ground radar, drone-borne EM, etc., and broaden its network. We will definitely attend SAGA 2021!

Blog post written by Leïla Ajjabou, HZDR.

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