Pay Dirt

Clean­tech firm Mi­ne­sense of­fers the min­ing in­dus­try a way to in­crease prof­its while cut­ting pol­lu­tion

BC Business Magazine - - Celebrating 45 Years - —N.R.

Min­ing com­pa­nies ev­ery­where are hav­ing a tough time find­ing high-grade ore be­cause oth­ers have beaten them to it. At the same time, the in­dus­try faces pres­sure to clean up its en­vi­ron­men­tal act. Mi­ne­sense Tech­nolo­gies Ltd. seeks to solve both of those prob­lems. Near its head­quar­ters in South Van­cou­ver, the clean­tech com­pany keeps a front-end loader retro­fit­ted with Shov­elsense, a data an­a­lyt­ics sys­tem that uses X-ray and other sen­sors to mea­sure ore qual­ity at mine sites. The sys­tem also works on con­veyer belts, but Mi­ne­sense is the only player with a so­lu­tion for mo­bile equip­ment, ex­plains pres­i­dent and CEO Jeff More.

Com­par­ing this ap­proach with the tra­di­tional method of tak­ing core sam­ples and send­ing them to a lab, More says it al­lows min­ers to ex­am­ine ore in real time. As a re­sult, they can find good ma­te­rial in ar­eas des­ig­nated as waste and pre­con­cen­trate what goes from the mine to the mill. Be­sides boost­ing rev­enue by mak­ing mills more ef­fi­cient, the Mi­ne­sense sys­tem cuts elec­tric­ity and wa­ter use. It also means that less waste ends up in tail­ings dams.

“The mines that we're cur­rently work­ing with, the im­pact to their bot­tom line that we can have on an an­nual ba­sis per mine is be­tween $20 mil­lion and $200 mil­lion,” says More, who joined Mi­ne­sense last year. Clients can also re­duce elec­tric­ity and wa­ter con­sump­tion by 20 to 25 per cent for each mill unit pro­duced, and tail­ings by up to 40 per cent, he adds.

Mi­ne­sense, which fo­cuses on base met­als—cop­per, iron, nickel and zinc—works with min­ing clients in B.C. and On­tario. The 35- em­ployee com­pany is start­ing to build a small unit to sup­port busi­ness in Chile, the world's largest cop­per pro­ducer. It also re­cently hired a new vice-pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in Aus­tralia, a big min­ing mar­ket, and is look­ing at other coun­tries.

Founded in 2008 by chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Andrew Bam­ber, Mi­ne­sense just closed a $19-mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round led by Chile's Au­rus Ven­tures. Among the other in­vestors: Cater­pil­lar Ven­ture Cap­i­tal—a divi­sion of the U.S. in­dus­trial equip­ment ti­tan—and Van­cou­ver-based Chrysalix Ven­ture Cap­i­tal. For min­ing com­pa­nies, Mi­ne­sense's tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to change the eco­nom­ics of new projects, More says. “From an ex­plo­ration per­spec­tive, that could open up more ar­eas where they're look­ing for de­posits, so they may be able to find de­posits that tra­di­tion­ally would not have been rich enough to make vi­able.”

CARE TAKER Telus's Allen Devine helps se­niors re­main in­de­pen­dent

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