What would you do if suddenly there was doubt cast on all your survey data?

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Picture the scene: You have a responsible role as part of a well known mining company with shareholders and a good reputation; you are not a risk taker, so you have enlisted a well known drilling company at the start of your drilling project and have not changed; you know that the drilling is continuing as agreed, with drilling updates provided verbally or perhaps even by text message – and the actual survey data files are received on a regular basis, this being anywhere between one day to a week after they were generated, depending on the location of the drilling.

There appears to be no reason to lose sleep – all is going as planned – until there is some doubt.

What if the verbal updates are not accurate or the survey data are misrepresented or altered prior to your receiving them? What if there is an opportunity for human intervention prior to the survey data reaching you? What if the instrument is defective and there are errors in the data? How much confidence would you have in making the decisions for which you have responsibility to make?

For example, your drilling project is in a very remote part of the world. Access is not easy, so contact with the actual rig is only possible every 3rd or 4th day. These are the days when you receive your actual survey data files, but you enjoy verbal updates from the drillers on site, usually on a daily basis. It sounds like they are doing a good job and things are progressing well. You are keen to gather all the survey data on which you will be able to define your ore body and generate a feasibility study to attract investment to fund the next stage of your project, as soon as you can.

This job is not for the impatient or faint hearted. You know that days, weeks, months and even years of drilling is required to assemble enough, accurate data on which to base your projection. Every day of drilling comes at a significant cost.

You have spent a significant amount of time on your drilling program in order to confirm and define a potential ore body and are keen to progress to the next stage as soon as possible. Whether this is a “yes, we have a mineable resource”, or “no, this is not worth pursuing”, will depend on the survey data collected.

One day, you get a sense that there is something not quite right with your survey data. It could be unrealistic hole survey data that bucks the regional trend, or time stamping may be inconsistent. Regardless of the source, any doubt in your survey data leads to more doubt. When did the issue start? How much survey data from the last few years is reliable? What needs to be redrilled? What is the cost? How will I tell the boss?

As the implications of this realisation become clearer, you realise the enormity of the risk. Thoughts of brand damage, withdrawn investment and delays cause you to jump into action.

It is then that you realise that there is a potentially dangerous break in the chain of custody as the survey data is manually transferred from the survey tool to a USB key to a computer, before finally making its way, electronically, to you. At this stage – survey data files can be altered, data changed or even lost. This does not feel good. A wrong decision based on inaccurate data has significant, expensive repercussions.

What are your alternatives – what do you need to do to be confident about your data.

The first step is obvious; you need to ensure your instrument is reliable, with no defects or risk of data errors, you then need to remove the potential for mishandling of survey data, and introducing data errors.

Data that flows directly from the tool, to a cloud based data management and analysis solution, to your corporate database negates the opportunity for manipulation, corruption or loss. Real-time assessment of this data provides the opportunity to immediately recognise inconsistencies and anomalies.

An example of such a solution is provided by REFLEX where survey data from a range of REFLEX’s survey tools can be transferred to REFLEX IQ-HUB via REFLEX CONNECT apps which access data from the tools and ready it for transfer to the REFLEX IQ-HUB. REFLEX IQ-HUB provides secure access to validated data, seamlessly transmitted from a range of sub-surface instrumentation, analytical instruments and mobile form data inputs, protected through a validated chain of custody and stored in a secure, cloud based database. An approval work flow guides you to assess the validity of the data with business rules that reveal issues with work flows, tool usage and tool health. These inputs can then be seamlessly transferred into your corporate database or can be accessed, from any internet connection, anywhere, any time.

This automated workflow has been designed to ensure that the risk of the data being manipulated is negated. In addition to this, training and support around the effective use of the tools, together with access to a QA/QC specialist at REFLEX as insurance in identifying any anomalies in your survey day, provide you with additional confidence in the reliability of both your instrument and your data.

With workflows in place that assure the accuracy of your survey data, and real-time access to these data, you can once again concentrate on the critical decisions which guide your business.

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best practise guide