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Gold Supply in the Era of AI and Big Data

October 21, 2020 By Mircea Vasiu

Whenever one thinks of a precious metal, gold comes to mind. For millenniums, it represents the only form of money that survived. 

However, money in the 21st century (and the previous one) fulfills different roles and functions. Money is not only a store of value but a unit of account too. With gold, the store of value function worked very well so far and continues to provide benefits to holders.

What makes gold so unique? Scarcity is one of the attributes that contribute to gold acting as a store of value. Limited supply drove humankind to dig further into the ground to find the curious yellow precious metal.

Now that the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data is here, humankind is poised to go the extra mile to mine new places in the search for gold. Will the new technologies be responsible for altering the supply side of gold into the market?

Gold Mining in the 21st Century

So far, all the gold deposits at the surface have been found and mined. This is not valid only in the case of gold but also for any mineral or oil deposits.

The need and moment to go deeper have arrived with the AI and big data. Data-heavy surveying on deep-drilling is responsible for the success of an exploration. Data interpretation is another thing – here is where AI intervenes.

The problem with gold exploration is that it is a costly adventure. Only in the past decade, almost $60 billion were spent worldwide on finding new gold deposits. And then, of the ones found, only some met the economic requirements for the mining to start.

One single drill hole collects tons of data, and in some cases, there is the need for hundreds of holes to see if a site is economically viable for gold mining or not. Big data and AI have the chance to change the industry in the years to come. By failing to do so, the price of gold looks poised to increase for the simple reason that there is a finite quantity on the ground, while what is left in the ground is difficult to reach.

21st century gold exploration requires studies on geochemistry, geophysics, geology, and even satellite imagery or spatial data. Human error, therefore, is inevitable. AI’s ability to reduce or even eliminate human error, coupled with big data better handling may prove to be a game-changer for the gold exploration industry.

Will it move the price of gold in the years ahead?