Saving exploration time, improving cost efficiency, and achieving higher levels of social and environmental acceptance: these are the key aims of the development of novel exploration methods investigated by the three-year research project NEXT – New Exploration Technologies. Within NEXT, our focus is on new geomodels, novel sensitive exploration technologies and data analysis methods. The overall concept is to combine the knowledge derived from geological mineral systems research with new advanced technological solutions.
Including 16 project partners from six EU countries, NEXT brings together mining industry, service providers and research institutions to develop an enhanced integrated approach for ore exploration. The project has made much progress to develop the first prototype of a new electromagnetic (EM) system and utilizing a new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) technology for geophysical surveying, as well as development of a field electrochemical probe. Combination with other well-established but constantly emerging portable geochemical exploration tools (XRF, LIBS, Raman), remote sensing technologies and biogeochemical approaches shall enhance sustainable exploration methods. Furthermore, the partners of NEXT are devoted to bring the analysis of expanding mineral exploration related data to a new level by combining the modern data mining, artificial intelligence (here: self-organizing maps (SOM) and artificial neural networks (ANN)) and prospectivity mapping technologies.
Focus of our work on Social License to Operate (SLO) is to identify the key factors influencing social acceptance at the mineral exploration stage, and to explore the importance of early company community relations for SLO long term.
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 776804.