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A Comparable Analogy: A Visit to Your Doctor 

Doctor says: “Let’s run a few tests”

If you find a lump on your body that shouldn’t be there, or are still feeling crummy after a few days, you are going to go see a doctor.  After a few questions, your doctor will likely run a few tests:

  • Maybe you will have some blood drawn and have it run through a battery of lab tests (to rule things out), or
  • Maybe he orders a biopsy to be taken from that lump (to have it checked for a malignancy).

The above tests will generate actionable data that will end up in your electronic medical record.

 So…what happens to the blood and tissue samples?

They get discarded.  Yup, not long after all the requested tests are completed, it all becomes biomedical waste and discarded as biohazardous material.  Here’s an article about that.

What matters is the data generated from the samples, not the samples themselves

Once tests are conducted, the samples are irrelevant.   What matters is the data. And this medical data will—more often than not—end up in your electronic medical record, not on some physical pieces of paper stored in a filing cabinet in a doctor’s office.

If you decide to get a second opinion, your doctor will share that data electronically with you and/or your other doctor.  You aren’t going to get a stack of paper documents to take with you to share with your second doctor….you are going to get the data in a thumb drive.

So Why Keep Physical Drill Core?

So if you can view your sensitive medical data on a thumb drive, and share it with another doctor electronically in seconds, why do you need to store all of that physical drill core in an expensive shed that cost $30K+ to erect, taking up a lot of space and cost to maintain the shed and humans that operate it?

I’m sure some scientists and geologists will argue the following:

“Yea, but medical samples are biological, whereas drill core is not and can be stored forever.”

“But what if we want to look at the core again to double check something, or get an opinion from a second geologist?”

“But we keep drill core as insurance, in case we need to access it for some reason.”

1. Storing drill core is expensive

Not only is it expensive to erect a core shed structure, but it’s also expensive to maintain.

  • Upwards of $30K to erect the structure (and $ to decommission it/take it down)
  • Payroll, utilities, etc.

2. Accessing physical drill core is a process (it’s not instantaneous)

So you you have a question about the geologist log and want a second opinion.  But this other geologist is not on premise.  What do you do?

  • Ship the core via FedEx or DHL?
  • Fly the geologist to the location of the core shed?
  • Get someone to pull the core, take pictures of it, and email those pictures to the other geologist?

All of these options take time and money, and have their own set of issues.

An Argument for Following the Medical Industry Practice

While I’m sure that some in this community won’t agree, maybe it’s time to start thinking differently about drill core storage.

Why not take high resolution images of drill core and then discard the core?

For one, your organization would save a ton of capital expenditure money and physical space, not to mention ongoing operational costs to pay people and maintain the core shed.

Two, sharing the imagery would be instantaneous, and you would not have to rely on physically getting the drill core in question and the person who can interpret it in the same room.

Three, machine-learning algorithms and techniques—currently in their infancy—are the future of drill core interpretation.  Why not start preparing now for the inevitable future?

Imago Is Helping to Shape This Future

Imago is helping pave the way toward this future. It’s software can be used in a production mining operation to capture drill core imagery, catalog it all, mark it with appropriate depth and core box tags, stitch it together into one continuous borehole image, and share it with others and other software tools instantaneously.  Imago is also working on machine-learning algorithms in an effort to extract even more value out of the drill core, automating a lot of manual processes as well.

Learn about how Imago is doing this by watching their 1-minute video overview below.

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