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Phase 2: 1 January 2022 – 31 December 2024
Real-time downhole assay holds the promise of low-cost, automated, objective geochemistry that can be incorporated in the drilling workflow and informing while-you-drill decision making. Current technologies with the potential for near real-time assay come in the form of downhole techniques (e.g., prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA)) and top-of-hole techniques (e.g. Lab-at-Rig®). Prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis has the advantage of sensing large rock volumes but has calibration, sample collection and detection limit issues for certain minerals (e.g., Au). We propose to deliver a downhole assay technique that will provide rapid results, remove the reliance on representative cuttings return, and have a smaller surface footprint and lower costs. This sensor or sensors will be either driller deployable or automated once the drilling process is automated, and will enable reliable decisions to be made whilst drilling campaign is ongoing.