Scientific Expedition in Chile: Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation Scientists Search for New Copper Deposits

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In a groundbreaking scientific expedition, researchers from the Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation, in collaboration with Remote Sensing Business Solutions (RSBS), recently conducted spectral surveys in Chile’s Atacama Desert. This endeavour is part of the Hype4Explor project, which aims to support the mining and quarrying industry by focusing on the exploration of Porphyry Copper Deposits (PCDs), a common type of polymetallic deposit and a significant global source of copper.

Unlocking Chile’s Hidden Copper Wealth: Validating Mineralization Maps with Advanced Satellite Imaging

The project’s main objective was to validate mineralization maps created from satellite images. The team chose exploration polygons in Chile due to the country’s abundance of PCD deposits, minimal vegetation cover, and favourable weather conditions for satellite image acquisition year-round.

To facilitate the work, the scientists selected exploration test pads within the Sierra Gorda mine area, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with Sierra Gorda SCM, a company providing legitimate exploration access and logistical support. Pre-project research and consultation with geologists from the University of Warsaw and Sierra Gorda SCM indicated the presence of surficial zones of mineralization characteristic of PCD deposits in this region.

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Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation scientists played a crucial role in the project by acquiring spectral data. These data will form the basis for a comprehensive database of spectral signatures, alongside geological material sites identified by experts from the UW Geology Department. The team plans to utilize this information to create mineralization maps using hyperspectral satellite data for three study areas, namely the Sierra Gorda mining area, the Sierra Gorda SCM mine site, and Sierra Limon Verde near Calama.

High-Tech Surveys in the Atacama Desert: Mapping Minerals with Advanced Spectroradiometer

The scientific team conducted their work in the mountainous region of the Atacama Desert, ranging from an altitude of 1,600 to 2,500 meters. To carry out the surveys, they utilized a portable hyperspectral spectroradiometer capable of recording spectra across a wide range of 350-2500 nm, with a particular emphasis on the SWIR bands to map specific minerals. Additionally, a portable GNSS receiver aided in accurate location data collection during fieldwork.

Marcin Maksymowicz, Lead R&D Engineer in the Hype4Explor project, highlighted the importance of collaborating with the Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation. Their state-of-the-art ASD FieldSpec Hi-Res spectroradiometer was crucial in capturing the spectral characteristics of rock media during fieldwork. The Institute’s qualified specialists and extensive experience in global fieldwork made them ideal research partners.

Revolutionizing Mineral Exploration: AI-Driven Deposit Potential Analysis and Advanced Spectral Mapping in Chile

Notably, this project goes beyond surface mapping alone. RSBS plans to develop artificial intelligence models based on hundreds of identified PCD deposits worldwide. These models will correlate surface mineralization with specific parameters of known deposits, such as copper content and total tonnage. As a result, the AI models will help identify the deposit potential of greenfield areas, supporting decision-making during the early stages of exploration and leading to reduced exploration costs and minimized risks associated with unsuccessful drilling.

Besides enhancing mapping methods, the expedition’s fieldwork in Chile also aimed to create a region-specific library of spectral characteristics for rock centres containing specific minerals. This library will be used to test the integration of in-situ measurements in creating surface mineralization maps from satellite data. By comparing maps developed using publicly available spectral libraries to those created with field-derived spectral characteristics, the researchers aim to verify the accuracy and efficacy of their methods. The spectral characterizations combined with laboratory studies of mineralogical composition will also help determine detection thresholds for specific minerals, further enhancing mineral exploration techniques.

The Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation scientists and RSBS are optimistic that their cutting-edge research will significantly contribute to the exploration and discovery of new copper deposits, unlocking vast possibilities for the mining and quarrying industry in Chile and beyond.

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