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29 July 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs
Dr Martin Clark
Dr Martin Clark, the founder of the MAGIC (Multi-purpose Aerial Geological Image Classification) initiative. MAGIC can obtain geological and structural information that is critical for making informed decisions in exploration and mineral extraction processes.

Mining has historically been described as a boom-and-bust industry, where fluctuations in mineral prices could result in extreme success or bankruptcy. Successful mining companies closely monitor assets/expenditures, risks, and other parameters associated with their business to best ensure their longevity. In most mineral industries, there are a few competitors that dominate the delivery of a mineral resource. As a result, technological development, along with other factors, are critical to ensure that these companies’ business remains viable and protected.

This is according to post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Geology, Dr Martin Clark.

Drone technology: better, faster, safer

He says technological development in mining generally translates to how a company can extract a resource from the ground better, faster, and safer. 

Dr Clark believes the rapid development of drone technology represents a shift in the toolbox that mining companies can employ.

“Drones can collect a great deal of data randomly over vast or small areas within hours, historically accomplished by mapping campaigns which can last months to years. Drones can also collect data in areas which are difficult and dangerous for humans to get to. These include cliff faces or rock walls that are difficult and dangerous to get close to, as well as stretches of land where dense vegetation, inaccessible terrain, and even atmospheric dangers become factors which reduce or modify the scope of exploration work,” he said. 

Expanding application of drones

Dr Clark’s work specifically focuses on expanding the applications for which drones are used. “I assess what and how good the imaging capabilities of drones are, use the imagery to generate 3-D models to drive scientific observation, and yield results which can help companies to extract resources. This initiative is called MAGIC (Multi-purpose Aerial Geological Image Classification),” he said. 



“MAGIC aims to collect geological and structural information that is critical for making informed decisions in exploration and mineral extraction processes,” he added.

Dr Clark is not only the founder of MAGIC; he also drives multiple aspects of the initiative including education, research, and business development. 

In 2013, when he was busy with his doctorate, there was already a spark of interest in using drones to address geological questions. At that time, Dr Clark was working with remotely sensed high-resolution LiDAR imagery to better understand geological structures at the Sudbury Mining Camp in Canada. The interest became a reality in 2018, when he applied this initiative during his post-doctoral fellowship at the UFS.

Now and the future

“At present, there are no direct mining projects underway, but projects are expected to begin in 2020. Drone operation and image-analysis techniques are currently being refined for industry,” he said. 

Besides his work with drones, Dr Clark also work in the fields of structural geology, remote sensing, and geospatial data analysis.  

News Archive

Former architecture student takes part in Archiprix in Moscow
2013-06-24

Jurie Swart in Moscow.
24 June 2013

 

“I am proud that I could honour the UFS’ name,” says Jurie Swart. He participated in the prestigious Archiprix in Moscow in May 2013.

Archiprix is an international competition where the world’s top architecture students are selected. Architecture departments, schools and faculties of 1 500 universities from 78 countries worldwide are invited to enter their top master’s students over two study years.

In 2012, Jurie Swart was honoured as regional winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award and also received an honourable mention in the 2012 International Graduate Architecture Projects.

After several months of careful evaluation by a panel of five experts, his thesis, Borderline – mediated landscape, A water research centre for the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa Campus, was nominated as one of the world’s 25 master’s projects to take part in the Archiprix in Moscow. His thesis was also on display at the Central House of Artists in Moscow for a couple of months.

The judges were Yuri Grigoryan (architect and director of the Moscow-based Project Meganom, as well as director of educational programmes at the Strelka Institute in Moscow); Susan Herrington (professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada); Kristin Jarmund (architect and director of the Norwegian-based Kjark, an architectural house); Hubert Klumpner (architect, director of the Venezuela-based Urban-Think Tank, and professor of architecture and urban design at the ETH, Zürich ); and Lesley Lokko (architect, academic and author from the UK).

Jurie Swart was selected as the participants’ favourite. “From the top 25, seven winners were announced, and although I didn’t win, it is still an amazing achievement and I am proud to have honoured the university’s name,” he said.

During his visit to Moscow, he also attended a workshop with the rest of the nominated students. This project, with the theme Railroads, was an exercise to help solve Russia’s transport problems.

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