Located just east of Val-d’Or, the past-producing Sigma and Lamaque mines sit between Integra’s Lamaque North and South projects.

A PDAC opening event demonstrated the evolution of mineral exploration as a high-tech Quebec team won first prize in an online search for Abitibi gold. Integra Gold TSXV:ICG asked contestants to dig through digital data representing some 75 years of mining and exploration at the past-producing Sigma/Lamaque property adjacent to the company’s Lamaque project. Out of five finalists appearing at the March 6 event, the SGS Geostat team won the $500,000 first prize.

The team “used sophisticated geostatistical methods to drive data into an expansive and unbiased block model,” Integra explained. “A prospectivity scoring system harnessed both geological knowledge and machine learning, a subfield of artificial intelligence, to identify high-value targets, which were then vetted through virtual reality with Oculus Rift technology.”

Using somewhat less sophisticated technology, Lamaque produced 4.58 million gold ounces between 1935 and 1985, while Sigma turned out 4.45 million ounces from 1937 to 1997. The digitized files included info from 30,000 holes, over 500,000 assays, hundreds of kilometres of underground workings, mining stats, geological sections, level plans and photos.

SGS Geostat leader Guy Desharnais said, “As a team of geologists, engineers and computer scientists often bound by certain limitations and boundaries, we relished in the opportunity to channel our collective creativity and curiosity to provide new exploration targets in a historic and famous mining jurisdiction known worldwide.”

Four other finalists—three teams and one individual—shared another $340,000 in prizes. Integra announced the contest last June. By September over 740 entries had arrived from 65 countries.

Panellists consisted of geologist and commentator Brent Cook, Randy Smallwood and Chantal Gosselin of Silver Wheaton TSX:SLW, Rob McEwen of McEwen Mining TSX:MUX and Sean Roosen of Osisko Gold Royalties TSX:OR.

Integra didn’t specify what the winners proposed for the former mines. But CEO Stephen de Jong said some of the suggested drill targets “are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We have decided to expedite the drill program and start testing a number of these targets in the immediate future.”

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