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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

Multitudes celebrate dr Beyers Naude's selfless life
2013-09-14

26 September 2013

The lecture was held in partnership with the diverse churches, the youth, the house of traditional leadership. The theme was Love for Humanity.

In his special message to the gathered religious leaders, students and staff, Apostle Saki Thapong, challenged all in attendance to “look for your own miracles within yourself.”

“We need a generation of miracles and not a generation of people running after miracles”, said Apostle Thapong.

“Allow your miracle to manifest itself within you and never look at your own miracle through your own time, but through God's time and purpose”, Pastor Thapong said.

In focusing on the choice of the theme, Vice-Rector: External Affairs, Dr Choice Makhetha, said that the theme was very important to all stakeholders who needed to pledge their commitment to building a community of people who care deeply about the safety of its children and senior citizens.

“As stakeholders in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality, we need to collectively build a society courageous enough to dirty its hands to shape the socio-economic development of this area, for the benefit of the local people, the country and the world. We must build a community of people who work tirelessly to ensure that the dignity of every human being is restored and protected, especially women,” said Dr Makhetha.

Previous speakers in the series include, Dr Allan Boesak, Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo, Dr Frank Chikane, Mr Johann Naude (Dr Naude's son) and Prof Jonathan Jansen.

Dr Beyers Naude was an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church who stood against apartheid despite his advantaged Afrikaner background. In the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre of March 1960, 'Oom Bey' started questioning the morality of the government's policies. At the time of his passing away in September 2004, he was described as a “true humanitarian and true son of Africa” by Nelson Mandela.

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