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25 February 2021 4 min read

Four men and two women gathered around a central computer screen
The SensOre team (L-R) Mike Woodbury, James Potter, Dane Burkett, Alf Eggo, Chris McIntyre and Jo Ann Hilario

Robbie Rowe, SensOre Ltd

Robbie is Chief Operating Officer at SensOre Ltd (SensOre), a technology company working in mineral exploration, specialising in targeting mineral commodities using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques. SensOre is currently focussing on gold and nickel targets in Western Australia.

SensOre began as a technology start-up company in 2018 and aims to become the highest performing minerals targeting and discovery company in the sector.

To achieve this, we have developed a proprietary Discriminant Predictive Targeting® (DPT®) platform to make predictions regarding the location, depth, grade and endowment of economic mineral deposits.

We use ML techniques in our DPT® workflow to unlock the true value from massive geoscience data.

We are currently focused on mineral targets in WA having acquired a vast tranche of valuable data, such as the Geological Survey of Western Australia’s (GWSA) drillhole and surface databases.

These databases equate to over 30 million individual assays and over 8 million surface sample assays.

I became aware of CSIRO’s skill compatibility with our R&D objectives through my association with the Academy of Science UNCOVER initiative.

From those initial connections CSIRO and SensOre scoped out projects which would be able to leverage the multidisciplinary CSIRO expertise we needed to further develop our technology.

SensOre has now undertaken two projects with CSIRO, we applied and were awarded a CSIRO KickStart voucher which has resulted in accelerated technology development.

CSIRO have been helping SensOre map the DPT® workflow.

This quickly helped us identify portions of the workflow which could benefit from automation, and to create a working plan to have portions of the workflow developed into modules.

One of the most significant portions of the DPT® workflow which CSIRO has mapped is the ingestion of large, geochemical database.

Now that the mapping process has concluded SensOre looks forward to working with CSIRO in the early part of 2021 to further develop and potentially automate these modules.

It has been very easy to work with CSIRO, even through COVID-19 restrictions. The scientists we collaborated with brought a diverse range of skills in computer science, spatial statistics and GIS.

Together we discovered a range of new and unique approaches to improve automation and our DPT workflow.

The CSIRO scientists were very forthcoming in providing solutions to a range of challenges facing SensOre, including extracting and collating information from very large databases.

Our teams meshed extremely well, especially having to collectively navigate COVID-19. The 'can do' attitude was infectious and something we look forward to with future CSIROSensOre collaborations.

Our aim and ambition is to disrupt conventional exploration. We believe improved minerals discovery performance will benefit many stakeholders including the broader Australian community.

As such CSIRO involvement is an investment not only in SensOre but in sustaining and expanding the minerals production base of traditional and critical minerals that are becoming important for renewable energy transition and for Australia’s future economy.

The CSIRO team working with SensOre (L-R), John Hille, Sam Bradley, Gerhard Visser, and Vasek Metelka

Dr Vasek Metelka, CSIRO

Vasek is a geologist and data scientist who leads the CSIRO team working with SensOre

Our team began working with SensOre to provide support in designing and implementing solutions that would handle the large cache of legacy data they had acquired.

Our initial time was spent quality checking the datasets, many of which were not in the format or style required for ML applications.

As we've progressed with the optimisation of the workflow, we have overcome several bottlenecks in data processing and are now focused on ways to automate and enhance the process.

We are very much looking forward to our continued collaboration with SensOre with quite a few ideas and plans that we drafted together.

One of the benefits CSIRO brings to this kick-start project is our big data processing capability and digital expertise. We have access to a powerful distributed computer network and multidisciplinary and highly technical teams.

Our core CSIRO project group encompasses experience and expertise spanning software engineering, mathematics, data science and geology.

Still, we do leverage our access to the broader CSIRO community, including Data61.

We found working with SensOre has reciprocal benefits for CSIRO, giving us a closer understanding of industry challenges.

This allows us to hone our expertise and align our research focus to support innovations in mineral exploration and discovery, which will truly benefit the Australian industry.

Dr Megan Sebben, CSIRO
Dr Megan Sebben, CSIRO Kick-Start, funding, SensOre ©  Nick Pitsas

Megan is the CSIRO Kick-Start Program Manager

I assist Australian start-ups and small business access facilitation and dollar-matched funding through the CSIRO Kick-Start program so they can undertake a research and development (R&D) project with CSIRO to help them boost their business.

The scheme started nearly four years ago and has awarded over 140 vouchers to businesses across a wide variety of industries.

CSIRO Kick-Start is a non-competitive, eligibility-based program specifically designed to help new businesses less than three years old, or with an annual turnover and operating expenses less than $1.5 million, gain access to world class science and innovation from CSIRO’s unrivaled brain bank of experts.

Projects are capped at 12 months duration, but eligible companies can apply for up to two Kick-Start vouchers, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.

For SensOre, Vasek facilitated the connection to the Kick-Start team but companies can directly contact our office.

The CSIRO Kick-Start team can connect eligible businesses to the right CSIRO research expertise through our national network of facilitators and contacts.

If you are interested in CSIRO Kick-Start funding or have an R&D project you want CSIRO help with then can contact me to take the initiative.

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