Business bounce for HiSeis 3D

01/07/2014 - 13:59

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There is a fine line between success and failure in the minerals exploration game, however Bentley-based firm HiSeis is helping companies to hit pay dirt faster and more frequently.

ACCELERATE: HiSeis 3D imaging technology is allowing companies to make mineral discoveries faster. Photo: Attila Csaszar

There is a fine line between success and failure in the minerals exploration game, however Bentley-based firm HiSeis is helping companies to hit pay dirt faster and more frequently.

Seismic surveying in the oil and gas industry has been common practice for decades, as companies seek to discover new deposits and map reserves.

The use of such technology for minerals exploration has been limited, however, proving too costly to adopt and the geographical landscape too complex.

However HiSeis, a start-up spawned from Curtin University, is enabling mineral explorers to utilise seismic surveying through its pioneering three-dimensional imaging technology.

The seismic technology provides high-resolution 3D images of geological structures more than two kilometres underground.

HiSeis director of new business development, Greg Turner, said the 3D technology could fast track mineral discoveries and improve accuracy and life-of-mine planning.

“It has the ability to screen large areas, quickly – it is enormously faster,” Mr Turner told Business News.

While drill rigs are still needed to define the resource deposit, the HiSeis technology first narrows the target area where drilling should be concentrated.

Mr Turner said the company could complete a 3D survey, over a 10 square kilometre area that is 2km deep, in just three months.

That is compared to a single 1km deep drill hole that would take about one month to complete, according to Mr Turner.    

Established in 2010, HiSeis has grown to employ 15 full-time staff.

The company was set up to commercialise the seismic imagery system developed by Curtin University after 10 years of research.

Simply put, the technology sends acoustic waves into the ground and is able to compile a 3D image by measuring the energy of the waves returned to the surface.

HiSeis has taken the technology to Portugal, Finland, North America and around Australia.

Mr Turner said the lowering cost of seismic equipment, coupled with the increasing need to explore deeper underground, had meant more explorers were taking to the technology.

The company recently finished a program with Evolution Mining, which undertook surveys at two of its gold projects in Queensland.

It has also completed work for Lundin Mining, Consolidated Minerals, Barrick Gold and ERA Mining, among others.

“It is particularly useful in a brownfields environment,” Mr Turner said.

“You can look for extension of ore in underground mines. That is, in fact, quite a bit of the work we have been doing.”

He said the seismic technology could also identify satellite deposits near newly identified ore bodies.

Mr Turner said that, following the discovery of an ore body, it could take 10 to 20 years to find another discovery nearby using drill rigs.

However the HiSeis technology can provide a broader survey of the area in less than a year, he said.

Mr Turner said the company had one 3D seismic contracting crew with a second crew on the way.

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