Engineering & Mining Journal

APR 2019

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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60 E&MJ • APRIL 2019 MINING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA AND YUKON The Future of Mining Innovative solutions transforming a traditional industry Low commodity prices, a lack of new mining operations and a dearth of market capital has forced producers to focus on improving productivity by increasing mine life on existing assets, and forced juniors to dilute their share structures just to stay afloat. Neither of these solutions is sustainable, and significant improvements in performance require the industry to put down its pickaxes and think outside the box. B.C.'s tech sector generates around C$15 billion in GDP, the equivalent of 7% of its economy and, while mining currently repre- sents a fraction of this, one of B.C.'s oldest industries is also ripe for the development and implementation of new technologies that can leverage the global reach of its companies to export to jurisdictions worldwide. One of the companies leading the charge in the march towards modern mining is Minerva Intelligence, which provides artificial in- telligence software and services to reduce costs and improve suc- cess rates in mineral exploration. At PDAC 2019, Minerva launched MinSem - short for Mineral Semantics – a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that helps companies interoperate their knowl- edge assets across their mineral exploration, metallurgical and envi- ronmental protection activities. Emphasizing the importance of combining machine intelligence with human intelligence, Clinton Smyth, Minerva's CEO, stated: "We work in a knowledge-intensive industry where there are short- ages of professionals. At the same time, we are inundated with data. The only solution to thriving in this environment is to manage knowl- edge assets and commit knowledge to computers to augment how humans carry out their tasks." Another company to have implemented AI into their product of- ferings is Motion Metrics, headquartered in the heart of UBC, with their most recent release being BeltMetrics, which uses stereo-im- aging and deep learning algorithms to analyze rock fragmentation on mining conveyor belts. "Now mines can continuously measure rock size distribution in real time along the entire mine-to-mill com- minution circuit," explained Shahram Tafazoli, president and CEO. LlamaZOO, one of the finalists in Goldcorp's #DisruptMining 2018 competition, made the transition from the videogame industry to producing a software platform for representing a mine plan from exploration to reclamation using virtual reality. Charles Lavigne, LlamaZOO's co-founder and CEO, noted how mining companies struggle to obtain and share information from numerous non-in- teroperable software packages across different organizational silos, and elaborated on how LlamaZOO's technology can help: "MineLife is disrupting the mine planning process by centralizing data into an interactive and visual VR experience, and making that data acces- sible on-demand and remotely, from anywhere in the world." Future metals players diversify and create cash flow from processing technology While players in the battery metals space have attracted substantial investment in recent years, the capex of constructing a new lithium mine, for instance, is so significant that a number of companies have instead decided to focus on the optimization of processing technology. Through R&D, some of these companies have had such success that they have made the transition from conventional min- ing into providers of technology that is being exported across the globe and generating cash flow. MGX Minerals has a portfolio of mineral assets across North Amer- ica, but since its founding in 2012, has transitioned into a diversified Underground mining at Lundin Gold's Fruta del Norte project. Photo cour- tesy of Sandstorm Gold.

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