The mining firm is using drones, sensors and robo-drills to hunt for treasure in the Nevada desert.
For more than one hundred years, Taylor Mine & Mill in eastern Nevada has produced a bounty of silver and gold, inspiring a silver rush in the 1880s and being tapped again during the 1960s.
Today, this property is being worked by Canada-based late-stage exploration and development company Montego Resources, where executives believe that, through the use of industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies, they can uncover new treasure. The small company took over the Taylor Mine from another mining firm, Silver Predator, earlier this year.
A world of uncertainty
With mining for precious metals, there’s always a lot of uncertainty. Pits can be dug and shafts can be dropped – but there’s no guarantee of a rich find at the end of these efforts.
In the past, it was back-breaking work to uncover the truth of where the richest deposits lay. At Taylor, for example, this was a matter of using shovels and picks in the 1880s and, in the 1960s, earth-moving equipment and dynamite. Throughout these efforts, it was often a question of simply hoping for the best.
New methods and industrial IoT technologies, however, could deliver rich rewards at a fraction of the effort. Modern mining utilizes digital mapping of the terrain and images and data collected by drones can be used to construct 3D models of geologic architecture.
Meanwhile, electric currents run through the ground by sensors more advanced and sensitive than previous technologies give geologists a clearer idea of what lies under their feet.
With that picture established, it’s time for robo-drills to enter the picture. These are attached to partially automated rigs that collect mineral samples for analysis, detailing where the richest veins of silver and gold might be located.
High hopes for the future
While Taylor has produced silver and gold in the past, it was unclear how big the remaining deposits were, until surveys were conducted in 2014. Now, Montego has a much clearer idea, and estimates that there is up to 20 million ounces of measured and indicated silver in the ground there – a figure that could rise to 32 million ounces if the company’s plans to identify additional seams at the site pay off.
The mine is located 17 miles south of Ely, Nevada and only 2.5 miles east of US Highway 50. That access to roads and water sources could prove crucial, making it a relatively cheap mine to run, if Montego Resources hits the jackpot.