Diane Jurgens, BHP's chief technology officer, recently told the BAML SmartMine conference in London, UK, how technology is driving the company's transformation agenda, including using data to make smarter and more informed decisions.
"It was this new approach to interpreting exploration data that led, in November last year, to the Oak Dam copper discovery near our existing Olympic Dam operations in South Australia," she said.
"We used advanced geophysics modelling to reanalyse existing drilling data and were able to obtain a set of much more granular data across a more targeted area. It's like searching for a needle in a haystack but with the help of a strong magnet.
"Oak Dam shows that with new technology and new skills our geologists can identify opportunities that were hidden to explorers in decades past."
BHP is currently running a second round of drilling to further define the mineralisation of the area, where the team has encountered copper grade intersections as high as about 6% along with gold, uranium and silver. There is much more work to be done to understand Oak Dam and there is no guarantee it will become a commercial project.
Jurgens said to fully realise its ambitions across options in some of the world's premier copper, oil and potash basins, BHP must constantly work on developing and maintaining industry-leading capabilities that will take the company's unique portfolio to the next level.
"Technology and innovation are among the most critical of those capabilities," she noted.