Technology watch activities are essential to systematically analyse and monitor new technology developments in the field of less invasive mineral exploration that could be tested and further developed at INFACT European Reference Sites (ERS). In order to increase the use rate of the ERS, INFACT partners have published a technology watch report which presents a bibliometric study on the technologies involved in the project.

A total of 669 patent families and 2019 scientific publications have been analysed corresponding to the 4 selected Key Intelligent technologies selected by the partners: airborne electromagnetic methods, airborne gravity gradiometry, airborne magnetometry and drone-borne hyperspectral imaging (Figure 1). Considering that a patent analysis exercise usually deals with a significantly higher number of documents (10.000+), the selected technologies can be considered niche technologies.

Figure 1. Key Intelligent technologies retrieved documents. 

The statistical analysis of the documents reveals the main players, technology trends, markets, country origins and collaboration patterns via bibliometric techniques. The report also gives recommendations for increasing the frequency of use of the reference sites through global scientific partnerships and cross-industry technology transfer cooperation with the identified players.

To disseminate the generated know-how, a manuscript has been prepared and published at the high impact open access journal Sustainability (MDPI). The paper focuses on airborne electromagnetic methods used as less invasive technologies in mineral exploration. The article aims to analyse the gap between the model of sustainable less invasive innovations and the concrete implementation of the technology pull. Special attention is paid to the enablers of sustainable development and their presence in the technology landscape for less invasive exploration technologies. In addition, a communication titled “technology watch of airborne mineral exploration methods” was presented to more than 200 attendees at EAGE Mineral Exploration Symposium 2020 held in September 2020.

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