Descartes Labs, a US-based technology company, has won three awards in the 2024 Mining Technology Excellence Awards in the Innovation, Product Launches, and Safety categories.

The Mining Technology Excellence Awards honours the greatest achievements and innovations in the industry. Powered by the business intelligence of GlobalData, the programme provides a platform to celebrate the people and companies that are driving change in the industry.

Descartes Labs has been recognised in the Innovation category for integrating hyperspectral processing capabilities in its mineral exploration software product, Marigold. The software’s ability to reduce timelines, cut costs, and empower data-driven decision-making was also lauded.

In the Product Launches category, Descartes Labs won for its remote sensing Exploration Reports. The award recognised Exploration Reports for its cutting-edge technology and tailored analyses, combined with practical deliverables.

The Safety award recognises Descartes Labs’s innovative InSAR-based deformation monitoring system, which enhances operational safety in mining through the use of remotely-sensed data.

Advancing mineral exploration technology: Marigold’s innovative approach

Marigold offers a comprehensive suite of tools that streamline the process of identifying and targeting mineral deposits. The software’s global prospectivity mapping utilises a robust multi-spectral dataset, including archives from Sentinel-2 and ASTER, processed with advanced machine learning algorithms to create a Bare Earth Composite. This composite, optimised for lithologic and mineral mapping, is conducive to large-scale applications.

Marigold’s high-performance computing and user-friendly interface empower geologists to swiftly formulate exploration hypotheses, evaluate vast areas of interest, and minimise the environmental footprint of exploration activities, marking a significant advancement in the field.

Its novel approach to remote sensing, specifically through image spectroscopy, has been transformative. By dissecting the light spectrum into select layers or bands, each pixel stack reveals a unique spectral “fingerprint” indicative of surface composition. This continuous spectrum, identifying materials by their reflectance or emissivity, is the cornerstone of Marigold’s hyperspectral processing prowess.

The recent integration of hyperspectral processing capabilities has further improved Marigold’s effectiveness in mineral exploration. Utilising over 300 unique spectral signatures, Marigold can rapidly and accurately discern surface material composition, significantly reducing time and costs compared to traditional methods.

This hyperspectral data, processed through Marigold’s advanced algorithms, enables the precise identification of specific mineral deposits with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

The High Performance Computing ability of Marigold has revolutionised hyperspectral data processing efficiency. What once took an hour for spectral angle classification can now be accomplished in just six seconds for an entire project, representing a monumental leap forward in mineral targeting.

Marigold redefines mineral exploration with the world’s fastest hyperspectral processing and powerful tools for geologists.

Exploration Reports: Descartes Labs’ remote sensing software

Exploration Reports by Descartes Labs

Descartes Labs’ remote-sensing Exploration Reports offers a suite of analysis-ready exploration reports that streamline spectral mapping and mineral index analysis.

Exploration Reports is designed to empower users to drive their projects forward without the need to delve into the complexities of raw data. By providing exploration-ready information about the area of interest (AOI), the reports enable users to jump straight into data interpretation, bolstered by the confidence that comes with market-leading technology.

One of the key reasons for the Mining Technology Excellence Award in the Product Launches category is the comprehensive suite of tools included with Exploration Reports. True and False Colour Composite images, along with vegetation and water masking results, provide a clear visual representation of the AOI. Mineral mapping indices are particularly valuable as they highlight patterns across the property, revealing the presence of micas, clays, sulphates, carbonates, mafic silicates, and iron oxides. These indices are crucial for identifying areas with potential mineral deposits.

The inclusion of RGB ternary images is another feature that sets Descartes Labs’ software apart. These images are specifically designed to pick out hydrothermal alteration, which is often associated with mineralisation. This capability is essential for exploration teams seeking to identify new prospects.

Descartes Labs has also incorporated standard and proprietary band combinations, ratios, and algorithms selected by their in-house expert spectral geologists. This bespoke approach ensures that the software is tailored to suit the unique properties and objectives of each exploration project. Additionally, Principal Components Analysis (PCA) results for visible and near-infrared (VNIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) bands allow users to extract subtle mineralogical changes, transforming data to map lithology and alteration changes in vivid colour.

The deliverables provided by the Exploration Reports are both comprehensive and practical. Clients receive a detailed PDF report that outlines the data, methods, and results over their AOI. Moreover, digital deliverables in geotiff format for all imagery and outputs facilitate immediate integration into existing GIS exploration software, ensuring a seamless workflow for exploration teams. The Exploration Reports, thus, represent a significant advancement in remote sensing for mineral exploration.

Enhancing mining safety: Descartes Labs’ InSAR-based monitoring System

The mining sector is under intense scrutiny to improve safety measures for both humanitarian and environmental reasons. Stakeholders demand transparency and responsibility, and Descartes Labs has risen to the challenge by providing a solution in its Global Deformation System (GDS). GDS not only meets these expectations but also strengthens brand reputation and financial stability. The solution provides the ability to monitor critical infrastructure with remarkable accuracy and precision, delivering analysis within 18 hours of data collection. It offers a 75% cost saving compared to traditional orbital radar programmes. 

Descartes Labs Global Deformation System

The GDS leverages synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and interferometric SAR (InSAR) technologies to detect surface movements that are imperceptible to the naked eye but can signal potential failures in critical assets. The system’s strategic ‘tip-and-cue’ mechanism directs intensive monitoring efforts precisely where they are needed, optimising resource allocation and enhancing the efficiency of deformation assessments.

By integrating predictive maintenance efforts, the lifespan of assets is extended, and resource extraction is optimised, streamlining operations further.

A retroactive case study of the Çöpler Gold Mine in Turkey, where a slip on the heap leach pad was detected, demonstrates the prowess of Descartes Labs’ InSAR product. The InSAR pipeline identified ground movement prior to the slide, providing critical information that could help prevent such incidents in the future. The analysis showcased the system’s ability to detect subtle deformations and highlighted the importance of continuous monitoring for the safety and stability of mining operations.

Descartes Labs’ InSAR-based deformation monitoring system is, thus, an example of how technology can be harnessed to protect critical infrastructure, the environment, and human lives.

“We are thrilled to receive these awards for our innovative software tailored to the mining industry. With streamlined access to remote sensing data, we empower mining companies to expedite mineral exploration and effectively monitor key infrastructure. This recognition fuels our excitement to collaborate further with mining companies to advance the efficiency and safety of their operations.”- Graeme Shaw, President and COO

Company Profile 

Descartes Labs, Inc., and its wholly-owned government subsidiary, Descartes Labs Government, Inc., are at the forefront of addressing global challenges through cutting-edge scientific solutions. Their mission is to equip customers with rapid and efficient tools to meet operational demands by leveraging extensive datasets worldwide. Utilising advanced science, particularly machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), they tackle pressing issues with innovative analysis. Their method involves converting vast global data into actionable insights at an accelerated pace.

Harnessing the capabilities of machine learning and AI, they empower customers to address operational needs swiftly and effectively. Rooted in a continually expanding portfolio of dual-use commercial products and capabilities, their solutions provide unique advantages, all driven by their core technology stack.

Contact Details

Tanya Cross, VP Marketing