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Hyperspectral images to digitize Sweden’s mineral wealth

10 Dec 2013

Specim agrees deal with the Geological Survey of Sweden to analyze drill core archives and digitize mineralogical data.

The Finnish photonics company Specim has signed a €1.7 million contract with the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) that will see more than 100 years worth of exploratory drill cores scanned and digitized using hyperspectral techniques.

Described as one of the world’s largest optical and mineralogical core scanning projects, Specim will carry out the work with its South African partner GeoSpectral Imaging (GSI). Some 200 km of archived drill cores will be scanned and analyzed to create a database of mineral information for others to use.

Using its “sisuROCK” scanner (see video below) to generate a full spectrum from each imaged pixel, Specim will capture information across the infrared wavelength range, as well as high-resolution color images, all in a single scan. According to Specim, the instrument is able to collect 1.2 km of core data each day

Specim corporate video: the sisuROCK scanner:

Voluminous asset
Rainer Bärs, the company’s project manager for hyperspectral sensors and software, said of the perhaps daunting amount of data to be collected: “The combination of Specim's sisuROCK scanner and GeoSpectral Imaging’s processing solution provides the best-in-class solution needed to address the requirements of the client; the high speed and performance is what makes this project economically viable.”

Kaj Lax, the head of SGU’s mineral resources department, added: “The project will extract additional information from our voluminous asset of drill cores. The information - freely available on internet - will be of great value for exploration, research and mapping.”

According to Lax, those drill cores cover more than one hundred years worth of exploration. “This project will transform Sweden’s mineralogical data into digitized, actionable insight,” he said.

Strategic shift
The development also reflects an important change to Specim’s business focus. Risto Kalske, its chairman, said that the Oulo-based company had made a strategic decision to move from its position as an equipment manufacturer to become a service provider through internal structuring and by partnering.

“This contract is a confirmation of our strategy working in action,” said Kalske. “We appreciate Sweden taking the lead in digitizing their national archive, and trust other countries will adopt similar practices enabled by new services and solutions.”

The company says that its hyperspectral imaging technology can be used to map drill cores rapidly for nearly all minerals of commercial interest. The sisuROCK scanner generates an image where each pixel contains a full spectrum that is unique to each mineral of interest.

High speed, automated computer algorithms then identify the minerals and convert the data into mineral maps of the core. In both 2010 and 2012, the company's other hyperspectral imaging products, including the AisaFENIX, were shortlisted for a Prism Award.

Last month, Specim announced that Georg Meissner would be taking over as managing director of the company, originally a spin-out from Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre, from January 1, 2014.

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