An old mining exploration technique from the 1960s involving sniffer dogs is being used by a Swedish geologist.
Peter Bergman uses a dog’s sense of smell to locate minerals such as diamonds, gold, copper and zinc.
His company Oredog AB was started four-and-a-half-years ago and aims to persuade mining companies to use dogs to “sniff” out mineral deposits.
The technique is already being used in Finland, Sweden, Canada and Russia.
Bergman is in South Africa, accompanied by his most experienced sniffer dog, Rex, on a fact-finding mission in the diamond mine industry in Kimberley and at the gold mines in Gauteng.
According to Bergman, Rex is the only dog in the world that can locate Kimberlite, a notoriously hard-to-find rock in which diamonds are found.
The German Shepherd can sense about 20 different types of ore.
“I brought him (Rex) to South Africa to help companies achieve new discoveries and to try and get investors and partners to train a lot of dogs.”
Bergman said it took about a year to train a dog. He said it was a lot more expensive to train them in Sweden than in South Africa.
He hoped that South Africa could be a base for future expansion.
Bergman said the use of dogs instead of expensive technology could cut production and exploration costs of mining drastically, making it more financially viable.
“Using the dog is fairly simple; it is much cheaper to use the it than machinery.”
He said using dogs could create avenues for anybody to take part in the mining industry, including those in developing countries.
“It is a democratic tool because it opens it up for everybody. I can go to the poor miners in Zimbabwe and teach them how to do it.” - Cape Argus