Using machine learning and traditional geological methods to make targets at Integra Gold’s (TSXV: ICG) Lamaque gold project, the Quebec-based team from SGS Geostat took home the top prize in Integra’s $1-million Gold Rush Challenge.
The winner was determined on March 6 after five finalists pitched their proposals “shark-tank” style to a panel of industry leaders during an evening-long, live finale hosted by comedian Shaun Majumder and attended by 400 onlookers at the Art Moderne Carlu event centre in uptown Toronto.
SGS Geostat’s winning proposal uses sophisticated geostatistical techniques to drive data into an expansive and unbiased block model. “A prospectivity scoring system harnessed both geological knowledge and machine learning — a subfield of artificial intelligence — to identify high-value targets, which were then vetted through virtual reality with Oculus Rift technology,” Integra said.
“We saw the tech sector and the mining sector collide, and unravel the great mystery of discovery,” Integra executive chairman George Salamis said.
Guy Desharnais, captain of the SGS Geostat team, said that “as a team of geologists, engineers, and computer scientists often bound by certain limitations and boundaries, we relished in the opportunity to channel our collective creativity and curiosity to provide new exploration targets in a historic and famous mining jurisdiction.”
Six months ago Integra launched the challenge, releasing a trove of data about its historic Lamaque gold mine property in Val-d’Or, Que. The challenge drew more than 1,000 participants, with 95 teams from more than 80 countries. Integra received more than 100 full-length entries.
Technical judges from consultancy WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff (TSX: WSP), Integra’s geoscience partner for the challenge, sifted through the entries and submitted the top-20 proposals to a technical judging panel, which selected the five finalists.
“The Gold Rush Challenge exceeded our expectations on every front,” Integra president and CEO Stephen de Jong said. “A number of the exploration drill targets identified through the challenge are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We have decided to expedite the drill program and test a number of these targets in the immediate future.”
“The torch has been passed,” said judge Rob McEwen, who executed a similar challenge for Goldcorp (TSX: G; NYSE: GG) in 2001. “The Goldcorp Challenge ignited the careers for the top-three finishers, and I know that SGS Geostat will reap the benefits of winning the Gold Rush Challenge. Mark my words, this is not the last time we hear from the SGS Geostat team.”
Attendees and sponsors also raised a total $250,000 for Val-d’Or charities during the event.
Integra will post a video of the event at www.integragold.com.