Tech Innovators in the Mining sector

by Patrick Chen

For one mining company, autonomous haulage system trucks have yielded a 20 percent productivity increase. source: mckinsey.com

Although the future of mining is about all the currently untapped deposits and reserves, the advancements made in mining technologies will fundamentally impact the mining industry’s future. People are important, of course, but the impact mining has on society for years to come depends on whether the community of miners has not just grown, but also the different industries inside it.

The future of mining includes new ideas for keeping miners safe, keeping mining tooling, tools, consumables and equipment working in the most optimal manner, as well as concepts that help get minerals from the mine to the port.

 

Mining Sector Consumables Tech

In order to increase the presence of Indian natural resources and mining companies while simultaneously taking steps to foster more sustainable and socially conscious approaches, mining conglomerate Vimson Group and New York-based innovation hub Newlab have launched a new mining studio known as Prospect Mining Studio.

 

The partnership supports elite entrepreneurs, engineers, innovators, and famous researchers who are involved in the natural resource and mining industries to help progress such businesses. This programme seeks out new prospects, explores various potential mining solutions, designs and plans for mines, works with closed-loop production, and looks into mine closure and mitigation measures.

 

Newlab is a technology firm that employs over 800 innovators, engineers, and entrepreneurs who are working in multiple industries to improve health, the environment, and various other sectors. Many of them have additionally taken on mining in their roles, representing the organisations they represent.

 

It has an estimated mine life of 46 years. Source: Mining-technology.com

An open appeal for entrepreneurs and researchers interested in addressing the mining industry’s most pressing concerns has recently been announced, and Prospect Mining Studio is waiting to hear from potential participants. There were 70 applicants from six continents who applied to the studio.

 

A one-day summit was convened in Brooklyn at Newlab headquarters in December 2019 for the summit’s participants: startups, mining firms, university researchers, and businesses. The purpose of the summit was to uncover the most compelling opportunities for everyone involved. It leveraged the workshop’s discoveries about industry subjects to direct its application evaluation process, discovering areas in the oil and gas sector that focus on tailings cleanup and robotics and automation as well as new models of data analysis and predictive analytics.

Not coincidentally, according to McKinsey research, overall mining productivity rose about 2.8 percent per year from 2014–2016 a period of modestly rising output. source: mckinsey.com

After the group narrowed the list of 15 companies, it then expanded the search to find additional prospects for the cohort’s first group, and it is now working with each company to deploy pilots at locations where the Vimson group or a partner organisation are present, with the long-term goal of advancing the mining industry by supporting sustainable and socially conscious solutions.

 

The firm Prospect is now exploring pilot and proof-of-concept opportunities for companies in this area, as well as working with additional mining partners. While the studio has also implemented diligence efforts with a few companies to assist in the early stages of the investment programme, the studio has also worked to bring new firms into the investment programme.

 

In the context of Prospect’s growth plans, it is making a collaborative effort with its stakeholders to commercialise innovative products and help startups scale up into the mining industry while driving investment and changing the status quo.

 

The future of mining Tech

Tech is mainstream in the mine

In the Prospect Mining Studio cohort, each company has its own view on a future industry trend that could have major and long-lasting effects on the sector.

Selected companies have included Vimson Group as well as Prospect Mining Studio co-founder Vivek Salgaocar who explained why these companies were chosen “With rising awareness of the importance of sustainable, responsible solutions, the mining industry consumables is doing its part to contribute to the world’s efforts.

This can mean a productivity boost of 5 to 10 percent, which equates roughly to opening a new mine if applied across a typical mining company’s footprint, without the capital cost. source: kinsey.com

On the other hand, instead of seeing this as a challenge, Prospect sees this as a tremendous opportunity, and she has been diligent in selecting and targeting emerging startups that deliver environmentally and socially conscious solutions that benefit the profitability of a company, helping these companies become widely accepted and put into use.”

Allied Microbiota – Stony Brook, New York, USA

Founded: 2016

Website: https://www.alliedmicrobiota.com/

Allied Microbiota uses microbes and their enzymes to clean up environmental contaminants, and they manufacture sustainable bio-chemicals as a result. Results derived from their disruptive augmentation cultures, which helped to detoxify polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, and chlorinated chemicals in soil and sediments, have been rather spectacular.

Allied Microbiota, a biotech start-up, was established in 2017 by Ray Sambrotto and Frana James, both from Columbia University. The company developed bioremediation methods using naturally isolated bacterial cultures and their enzymes to remediate soil, sediments, and groundwater using techniques like composting and flowthrough reactors.

 

While the environmental remediation business has increased dramatically in the last few decades, its skills remain well behind what is needed to reduce the inventory of polluted soils and sediments, according to the report.

Carbon Upcycling Technologies – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Founded: 2014

Website: https://carbonupcycling.com/

CO2, CO2 emissions of point sources such as power stations are converted by Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT) into solid goods. Its method chemically absorbs CO2 emissions from inorganic exfoliated minerals to produce a range of tiny nanoparticles.

It creates the following features: graphite and fly-ash powder feed in the reactor, pressurisation with gaseous CO3 and the resultant commercial nanoparticular additives, which are used in plastics, consumer products and pre-cast and ready-mix products. The system works with a few processes.

 

A new carbon dioxide capture was delivered at its energy hub in May 2020.

CyanoGuard AG – Zurich, Switzerland 

Founded: 2016

Website: https://www.cyanoguard.com/

CyanoGuard is a chemical sensing technology in combination with a cloud-based data visualisation and analysis solution, and thus allows for deeper integration of sensor data for monitoring and optimisation of cyanide usage in gold leaching processes.

The firm says their initial device, which can test for cyanide, is the world’s fastest, finding a correct result in less than 30 seconds, no matter where the user is located and without the usage of lab equipment or training.

 

Also known as “In situ leaching,” “in situ leach testing,” and “Vat or heap leaching,” the specialised method of chemical detection and toxicological testing is mandatory for several mining categories, and the procedure is needed in many other industries, according to CyanoGuard.

 

Cyanoguard’s objective is to be able to produce a standardised, certified, and calibrated product that will allow mining operators on-site to safely and effectively perform this process without having deep technical expertise or lengthy training.

Exyn Technologies – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Founded: 2014

Website: https://www.exyn.com/

Exyn Technologies specialises in the development of autonomous aerial robot systems, commonly referred to as autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles, for the gathering and collecting of data in difficult situations that are lacking in GPS signal strength. They manufacture many types of products for use in jobs such as three-dimensional mapping of mine drifts and stopes, asset location monitoring, and search and rescue.

An additional benefit of Exyn’s Autonomous Aerial Robots (A3Rs) is its automated data collecting which can improve operating efficiencies and safety, New Lab claims. This type of Exyn robot does not require GPS or infrastructure, nor does it require communication while on a task.

 

The company is focusing on mapping of underground mines for the time being. The purpose of this type of investment is to search for projects that use standard cavity monitoring systems (CMS) for mapping underground areas, where cameras are put on poles or vehicles and are then moved through underground workings to capture ground, wall, and ceiling dimensions.

 

In order to become a core solution for automated cavity monitoring and environmental control systems, vital to making mining more efficient and safer for employees, Exyn has set its sights on becoming one.

Innocule – Bhubaneswar, India

Website: https://innocule.co.in/

Innocule offers proprietary additives consisting of specialty chemicals and polymers to create products like dispersants, dewatering aids, flow aids, and grinding aids that are customised for customers to not only enhance productivity but also reduce ore processing costs.

With a client portfolio that includes companies like Tata Steel and UltraTech, the company’s technology is quickly taking hold in the industry. It focuses on its flocculants for better thickener efficiency, dispersants for reducing alumina and silicon in iron ore, filter aids to improve pressure filter efficiency, and grinding dewatering aids to aid in boosting ball mill performance.

“High-grade ores are fast depleting and the processing plants are forced to depend on low-grade ores,” Innocule said. “However, processing of low-grade ores is a challenge in the current mineral processing plants because those plants were designed for high-grade ores and low-grade ores pose many operational difficulties.

“Mineral additives are the only solution, and customized products need to be developed as per Indian requirements. Innocule has developed products that are designed to tackle operational difficulties caused by low grade feed materials.”

LexSet – Brooklyn, New York, US

Founded: 2017

Website: https://www.lexset.ai/

LexSet has launched TDaaS (Training Data as a Service) by providing 3-D content for use in creating photo-realistic synthetic data for training Vision AI models, which are then used to facilitate the creation of better computer vision. The technique is one in which users can generate endless amounts of training data on demand.

While this tech has only been utilised for a select number of functions thus far, these applications include robotic equipment, retail inventory and restocking, supply chain, inspection drones, warehouse/factory logistics, and augmented and mixed reality apps.

With the help of its technology, the company is able to provide photorealistic pre-annotated rendered environments, segmentations, simulated depth maps, and top-down environmental maps that allow for customization with respect to camera type, lighting conditions, occlusions, and materials in a training set, which is designed for each application.

TDaaS has been empirically demonstrated in producing superior AI vision systems for robotic object detection and navigation, without requiring to include photographs in the training set, the business stated.

“But others have attempted to implement computer vision systems using synthetic training data created by machine learning algorithms, but they encountered the ‘overfitting’ problem, which is when an algorithm learns to distinguish between computer representation and reality. At LexSet, we’ve found a way to tackle this by creating our own physically correct rendering engine, which faithfully simulates real-world lighting situations.”

Lixivia – Santa Barbara, California, US

Hydrometallurgical technology, which was created by Lixivia, allows for the processing of a vast range of mineral mixes, including low-grade lime, dolime, various forms of iron and steel slag, rare earth metals, and lithium. Partners are able to secure more value from their mineral assets with Lixivia.

Llamazoo Interactive – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Founded: 2014

Website: https://llamazoo.com/

How LlamaZOO Brings Clarity to Complex Data from LlamaZOO Interactive on Vimeo.

 

LlamaZoo has developed a spatial business intelligence platform that can compile data from across an operation and provide a visualisation in the context of a real-world location.

It has the capability to combine spatial data sets – LiDAR, satellite, CAD, IoT, and GIS, just to name a few – for a single unified view with analytic and visualization tools, giving operations business insights that are tailored specifically to the layout of miners’ complexes.

“The mining industry specifically relies on 2-D mapping tools alongside 3-D CAD models to plan sites,” the company noted.

“By better integrating various first- and third-party data sources, the LlamaZoo Spatial Intelligence Platform offers a more interactive, realistic, accurate, and fully threedimensional planning environment that allows for better decisionmaking and cost-effectiveness.”

“Based on modern VR and gaming principles, LlamaZoo empowers mining companies to think and act like data companies, enabling rapid digital transformations.”

Novamera – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

website: http://www.novamerainc.com/

Sustainable Mining by Drilling (NovaMinera is developing an integrated system that incorporates directional drilling equipment and imaging technology they are calling Sustainable Mining) (SMD). This has been developed in order to describe the geometric relationship of mineral deposits and then to design a sustainable, safe, and economical excavation process.

According to the company, the drilling technology it has developed combines high-resolution subsurface imaging with directional drilling in a “two-pass procedure” to detect the physical features of the vein. It is extremely versatile when it comes to vein geometries; which means it provides an exact output.

Novamera explained that the pilot borehole, which is created by a diamond drill, is further guided by the near borehole imaging tool (NBIT). “The NBIT tool carries out downhole surveys at fixed intervals to measure hole trajectory and distance from the hanging wall and foot wall. The second pass makes use of hole-opening equipment in which enormous holes (0.5 to 3 metres in diameter) are used to completely remove the vein’s mass. This cutting is picked up utilising low energy reverse circulation air lift assist technologies and is carried to the surface.”

Objectivity – Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

website: https://www.objectivity.ca/

The use of AI-based algorithms is utilised to increase the effectiveness of resource conversion drilling during important pre-production activity, which results in shorter project development schedules and higher investment returns.

In the company’s announcement, they state that they supply software and services to support the engineers and geologists’ abilities to make decisions. Computation technologies and large-scale visualisation are applied to give a technique for engineers and geologists to utilise current knowledge more effectively.

The company’s main objective is to provide goods and services that will aid in overcoming the many issues that exploration geology, mine ventilation, 3-D modelling, data and process management, and virtual reality systems may face.

OneWatt- Arnhem, Netherlands

Founded: 2015

website: http://www.onewatt.eu/

OneWatt predicts and detects faults in industrial equipment by ‘listening’ to motors using predictive AI and their embedded acoustic recognition sensors (EARS). Their non-intrusive solution enables industrial users, plant managers, and owners to avoid unplanned downtime, revenue losses, and unproductive maintenance.

The system, it said, it adaptable and can retrofit to most motors, regardless of model, size, age, brand or manufacturer.

Phoenix Tailings – Woburn, Massachusetts, US

Founded: 2019

Website: https://www.phoenixtailings.com/

Phoenix Tailings offers an end-to-end, zero-carbon solution for sustainable extraction of valuable metals from hazardous mining waste, exploiting trash that has yet to be fully utilised in mining and refining, while simultaneously achieving financial and environmental success.

With a main metal products collection that has re-mined tailings from previous mining operations, it allows end-users to cut their manufacturing costs by employing 100% sustainably sourced material and eliminates the need for direct carbon emissions. Alumina and aluminum, iron, titanium, silica, and rare earth elements including cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and scandium are some of the many elements produced by the firm.

Pliant Energy Systems – Brooklyn, New York, US

Founded: 2007

Website: https://www.pliantenergy.com/

The entities known as Pliant Energy Systems (PES) focus on several areas of maritime robotics, propulsion, energy generation, and pumping in developing revolutionary technologies.

in the world of PES, the energy of flowing water from small streams to deep ocean currents is harnessed and scaled up to MW of power.

RIO Analytics – Brazil, Saint George, Trinidad and Tobago

Founded: 2016

Website: www.rioanalytics.com.br

In the development of artificial intelligence applications, RIO Analytics has focused on finding early signs of breakdown in industrial assets. The Rio analytics digital platform, made up of both advanced industrial analytics and AI, has been able to accurately predict future breakdowns, cut down on downtime, and increase operational efficiency. Although it has only accumulated 17 patents thus far, it has acquired an impressive collection of notable sponsors, including the United States Office of Naval Research (ONR), the United States Department of Energy (DoE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Tomahawk Robotics – Melbourne, Florida, US

Founded: 21/09/2018

Website: www.tomahawkrobotics.com

Investors: Scout Ventures, Mosley Ventures, Service Provider Capital, Stout Street Capital, Naples Technology Ventures

Tomahawk focuses on development of multidomain collaborative robotic control products servicing the security and defense, energy, infrastructure, and assistive robotics markets. Tomahawk products are engineered to safely work alongside people and work in areas where there is no clear structure.

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