Canadian Earth ‘x-ray’ startup Ideon Technologies and top world uranium producer Orano have deployed the world’s first cosmic-ray muon detector for use in industry-standard boreholes.
The EUREKA-approved research and development project, which is receiving advisory services and funding support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), will run from now through the end of 2021 at McClean Lake, an Orano site in northern Saskatchewan.
Ideon is a world pioneer in muon tomography, providing x-ray-like imaging up to 1 km beneath the Earth’s surface. The Ideon discovery platform integrates proprietary muon detectors, imaging systems, inversion technologies, and artificial intelligence to produce high-resolution 3D density maps of underground targets.
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Orano’s imaging target is a high-grade, compact uranium deposit located at 300 metres depth. Multiple borehole muon detectors are deployed down a single drill hole in a connected sequence, delivering progressive imaging results throughout the survey.
Orano and Ideon have been collaborating since 2016, when Ideon deployed its first-generation, large-format detectors at the McArthur River Mine in Saskatchewan, successfully imaging a high-grade uranium deposit under 600 metres of sandstone.
Since then, Ideon has completed a 50x miniaturization effort to create the first industry-standard borehole (<10 cm diameter), low-power (<10W continuous power consumption), zero-maintenance muon tomography detector suitable for operation in the extreme environmental conditions of mineral exploration sites around the world.