Legacy uses AI to discover platinum in Australia

Drilling at the Fontenoy project followed predictive software searches. Credit: Legacy Minerals

Legacy Minerals (ASX: LGM) says it’s deployed artificial intelligence software to discover platinum group elements (PGE) and nickel-copper-iron sulphides on the Fontenoy project in New South Wales, Australia.

Diamond drillhole EFO7D cut 34 metres grading 0.5 gram PGE including 10 metres at 1.2 grams PGE per tonne, 0.2% nickel and 891 parts per million copper from 388 metres down-hole, the company said on Monday. The PGE component includes 10 metres at 0.89 gram palladium, 0.19 gram platinum and 0.1 gram gold, it said.

“The key driver of this discovery is the implementation of artificial intelligence through our alliance partner Earth AI,” Legacy Minerals CEO and managing director Christopher Byrne said in a release. “This is the first confirmed discovery of magmatic-related nickel-copper sulphide mineralization in the 700 km long ultramafic belt that hosts the Fontenoy project.”

Explorers and miners are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence to process big loads of data, streamline operations for increased productivity and spot opportunities to innovate and lower costs. Proponents predict AI will be indispensable to help the industry ramp up the supply of battery metals for the global energy transition to fight climate change. Electric vehicles, for example, need roughly four times as much copper as traditional automobiles.

Faster, cheaper

San Francisco-based Earth AI says it has made mineral deposit discoveries in two out of three tries compared with an industry average of 0.5%. Its predictive technology, trained on remote sensing, geophysical and exploration data, spots nickel, copper, zinc and vanadium prospects more than 100 times faster and cost-effectively than traditional methods, the company says.

“Our AI for mineral discovery is key to the diversification of the global critical metals supply chains by finding maiden deposits in unexplored areas at a fraction of the usual cost,” Earth AI CEO and founder Roman Teslyuk said in a release. “The discovery in Fontenoy, the second for us after the recent discovery of a greenfield molybdenum deposit, confirms that the future of mining lies in our technology.”

The Fontenoy discovery cost A$500,000 in exploration, Earth AI figures. That is 200 times less than the A$100 million spent by KoBold Metals. It’s a start-up also using AI backed by a coalition of billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, which is exploring in Zambia, Quebec and Australia, where it signed a deal with BHP (NYSE: BHP; LSE: BHP; ASX: BHP).

Shares in Legacy Minerals closed A$0.01 higher at A$0.14 apiece on Monday in Sydney, valuing the company at A$14.8 million. They’ve traded in a 52-week range of A$0.11 to A$0.21.

Massive sulphides

The Fontenoy project contains disseminated and veined copper-gold mineralization over a strike length of 8 km, Legacy says. It is interpreted to represent McPhillamys-style volcanogenic hosted massive sulphide mineralization.

A nickel-copper-PGE surface anomalism found south of the discovery intercept is now a priority area for follow up, Legacy said. There’s an opportunity to follow up with electrical geophysics for future drill targeting. Diamond drill planning is underway, it said.

Earth AI, which has an in-house drilling unit, completed three diamond-cored holes for a total 1,633.7 metres at the site about 150 km northwest of Canberra. Fontenoy was historically drilled by companies searching for shallow nickel-laterite deposits but not PGE or magmatic-related nickel-copper sulphide mineralization.

The AI explorer didn’t drill survey holes, but used predictive software to lower costs and speed the search process. It then sampled two-metre areas where sulphides had been logged and sent 283.8 metres for analysis, the company said.

“Mining with the help of AI has recently been at the top of the news, but it is precisely this discovery that is important for the market,” Earth AI said. “Previously, Earth AI discovered a greenfield molybdenum deposit in Australia in a region eight other companies explored and came up with nothing.”