Speaker Spotlight: Ian Glacken17 April 2019
Over the next six months World Gold 2019 will be interviewing the keynote speakers on some key issues related to the conference theme, Unlocking sustained value from gold deposits and what does the future hold for gold?
We recently interviewed Ian Glacken for his perspectives. Ian Glacken FAusIMM(CP), FAIG, MIMMM, CEng, MSc, BSc(Hons), DIC is a geologist and geostatistician who has been active internationally in the mining industry for 35 years. Ian has studied in the UK, USA and in Australia, and after graduation worked for Western Mining (WMC Resources) for 16 years worldwide as an exploration geologist, mine geologist, mine geology manager and senior resource geologist in nickel, gold, copper and uranium.
Q. What do you see as the major technical innovations and technologies to unlock sustained value from gold deposits?
A. Value generation in gold deposits will come from metallurgical and mining innovations. Metallurgical breakthroughs will enable hitherto intractable or untreatable materials to be processed at realistic costs and in technologically-robust ways suitable for remote climatic and topographic conditions. Improved or enhanced mining technology, especially for underground mines, will allow for increased communication and monitoring of hands-off (bulk) mining methods, and again will lower costs, enabling the mining of lower-grade, disseminated and deep mineralisation which has not been previously mineable.
Q. What does the future hold for gold?
A.Exploration for gold deposits will harness remote technologies such as seismic, gravity and other techniques to ‘see through’ overlying rocks. The proportion of underground mines will increase, using bulk, low-cost mining methods such as sublevel and block caving, along with a commensurate improvement in rock mass monitoring, in situ grade assessment and modelling of the extraction process to better predict grades. This modelling will entail expert systems and AI techniques. Increased safety requirements will pave the way for more remote mapping and sensing of geological and mineralogical properties. Improvements in geometallurgical modelling will enable processing plants to better tune their performance to changing plant feed, thus improving overall recoveries.
Q. What message would you like to provide to the delegates – thus what do you hope will be the main message they will take away from your keynote presentation?
A. We have entered the age where technology dominates improvements in exploration, mining and processing of gold deposits – in this, the minerals industry has noticeably been lagging. Improved technology, enabled through greater processing and visualisation power and developments in AI and other ‘expert’ techniques, will transform the exploration for and modelling of gold deposits. There will be current jobs which will be replaced by technology over the next 10-20 years. However, the ultimate ‘expert systems’ are still, and will continue to be, human beings, with the ability to process and take inputs from a wide range of disparate sources to generate findings or breakthroughs. Technical training for metallurgists, mining engineers and geologists will still be required, along with new training in the ability to synthesize and process information from a wide range of sources, aided by, but not dominated by, technology.