Amira Global is thrilled to spotlight PhD candidate Angela Rodrigues. Angela is working on Amira Global Project P1202 Far-field and near-mine footprints: Finding and defining the next generation of Tier-1 deposits, and has just been announced as a finalist in the ANZ Women in AI (Mining) Awards. We chatted to Angela about her role with Amira Global and her success in the awards.

What is your role in P1202?

I am a researcher within P1202 (PhD candidate at Monash University). The project has several industry partners and sponsors: Newcrest Mining, AngloAmerican, BHP, Boliden, Freeport, Merdeka, Mount Isa Mines, Vale, Newmont, Rio Tinto, Fortescue, Codelco, FMG, and Teck Resources. Most PhD students, like myself, work closely with one of the sponsors to develop workflows tailored to their needs, and I work in partnership with Newcrest Mining. My study site is the Waivaka Corridor, a 5-km segment of porphyry systems, located in the Namosi District, Fiji.

How is your PhD contributing to the P1202?

P1202 is a multidisciplinary approach that aims to develop new tools for cost-effective exploration programs and resource assessment. The research team work to facilitate new and refined tools for fertility assessment for several types of ore deposits (porphyry, epithermal, skarns) and at different scales: regional, district and near-mine scale. My research specifically relates to the development of exploration tools for porphyry-copper deposits at the near-mine scale. Particularly, I work with the application of numerous data analysis techniques and computer vision to drill hole derived data, such as spectral data and assay data. These objective techniques aim to reduce the amount of time required to identify a resource opportunity and are designed to provide machine-support to project geologists responsible for interpreting the drill hole data.

What is the topic of your PhD?

The topic of my PhD is the Automated mineral and textural extraction from hyperspectral data.

How is your PhD contributing to the benefit of the mining sector?

My PhD project aims to create machine-supported workflows and algorithms to assist in the interpretation of hyperspectral and assay data collected from drill holes at the exploration stage. The contribution to the mining sector aligns with the P1202 aims – to design tools and workflows for industry that allow for cost-effective exploration and resource assessment. Such tools aim to reduce the time between drilling and resource discovery.  They are objective and support the geological interpretation.

The application of deep learning to hyperspectral data is still in its infancy, but it is widely applied within the remote sensing science. A good example of that is the processing of remotely sensed hyperspectral data to ascertain and classify land cover; you can now build accurate models that are able to identify for example vegetation from building areas, from water courses. However, the use of deep learning for mineral identification is still a relatively new area, from which scientists have still a lot to learn about. And that is the novel approach that I work on.

Have you enjoyed working within the Amira Project as you study? Has it contributed to your studies?

What I like the most about this project is that it brings together the best of two worlds – academia and industry. I am able to conduct research on the field that I truly enjoy and at the same time I know that my research has an application for industry. It gives me a good sense of accomplishment. Another aspect that I like about it is that it made me grew so much, both professionally and personally. We, as students, get to engage with industry and academic peers, and we get to learn about the industry needs, as well as get to learn from some of the best professionals and researchers in our area. The mentorship that has been provided to me over these years is incomparable!

What does the Women in AI Award recognise?

The Women in AI is a global network of professional women in the area of Artificial Intelligence. Their mission is to work towards gender-inclusive AI that benefits society, by educating the upcoming generation of female leaders in the field, and by increasing our representation in AI.

This inaugural Women in AI Awards represents the commitment to support and reward the excellence of AI female professionals and experts within Australia and New Zealand. The judging criteria are, amongst others, the innovation of our work, the leadership and inspiring potential and the ability of our AI to do good for the global society.

How do you feel about being announced as a finalist?

As a PhD candidate, I am stunned that I got this selection! I am among an exquisite group of female experts in AI (university lecturers, and other experienced professionals), and I cannot wait to meet them all on the Award night. I feel very fortunate that my work as a PhD student has led me to this nomination. I am thankful to JewelRock for powering this event, as well as to the funding and brilliant mentorship that I’ve benefited from being part of an AMIRA project, including my closer Newcrest Mining mentors.