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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

Medical screening tests can help detect health risks at an early stage
2013-09-09

09 September 2013

It is once again time for the annual medical screening tests done by the Centre for Health and Wellness, which helps staff at the University of the Free State to watch their health.

All staff members are invited to participate and to find out how healthy they really are.

Dr Anette Prins, Deputy Director of the Centre for Health and Wellness, says their aim this year is to get every staff member to go for a checkup.

“For this reason, the tests will be done on different days and in different buildings. In this way, we take the test to the staff and they don’t have to come to a particular point as was done in the past.”
According to Discovery Health’s Healthy Company Index for 2013, in which the UFS also participated, about half of South African employees suffer from four or more health risk factors (blood pressure, obesity). The worst is that almost 70% of employees in this group believe that they are both fit and healthy. Fifty-three percent of those employees do not go for the essential preventative health checkups.

However, this picture may change as a result of the annual medical screening tests for staff of the UFS, because risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and high blood sugar levels can be detected at an early stage.

The tests take about 30 minutes per person and include a physical test, as well as an electronic questionnaire. The entire process is very confidential.

This year there are also prizes up for grabs, such as a Nexa Polaris 7.0 tablet and travel bags, during each session.

TIME

Monday
9 September

Tuesday
10 September

Wednesday
11 September

Thursday
12 September

Friday
13 September

09:00 – 12:00 Winkie Direko Building, K139 Agriculture Building, Lecture Hall B and C Physical Resources Hall

Stef Coetzee Building,Committee Room

Agriculture Building, K8
12:00 – 15:30 Flippie Groenewoud Building, Lapa
  • Flippie Groenewoud Building K110
  • 12:00 - 14:00 Main Building K16
George du Toit Building, Large Committee Room (3rd floor)

Francois Retief Building, Reception area

Sasol Library, K 433

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