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#DisruptMining 2019: Innovation Will Bring Investors Back To Mining

Kitco News

(Kitco News) - Focus is back on innovation within the mining sector as Goldcorp launches its third annual #DisruptMining challenge.

One Goldcorp executive said that new technology could help bring investors back to the mining space.

Last month, the mining giant opened up its submission window to potential visionaries who think they have an idea or concept that will transform the industry, which continue to try to shake the image of being outdated.

Luis Canepari, vice president of technology for Goldcorp, said he is excited to see what submissions the company gets this year as he is already starting to see the sector embrace new technology. He noted that more and more companies are using computer-learning models to identify potential drill targets; this was a technology that was almost unheard of five years ago.

Last year’s $1 million winner, Acoustic Zoom, is currently using its seismic technology to help Goldcorp better understand the geology at its Red Lake property. One of the winners in the inaugural #DisruptMining challenge, Tradewind Inc, continues to grow its digital platform where consumers can trade physical gold and silver. These are just two examples of companies that are helping to reinvent the precious-metals sector. Earlier this year, major mining companies, along with Goldcorp, threw their support behind the digital technology.

“The mining sector has seen a huge leap forward in the way companies are doing things,” he said. “The advances we are seeing are on par with what happened in the financial sector 10 years ago.”

Canepari said that innovation is the critical component that will bring investors back to the mining space. This past year has been unprecedented for the mining sector as negative investor sentiment has reached its highest level. In the last six weeks, the gold price has struggled to find momentum as it hovers just above $1,200 an ounce.

In this relatively low price environment, there is a risk that mining companies abandon their focus on innovation and technology; however, Canepari said that he thinks this is the wrong mindset.

“I understand. In hard times it’s easy to go back to what you know,” he said. “But the companies that embrace new technology are better set up for the future,” he said. “If mining companies don’t change the way they do things, they will be gone in 10 years. I haven’t seen my innovation budget reduced because of these low prices.”

Canepari explained that the reality is that resources are getting more and more difficult to find and produce. At the same time, companies have to pay more attention to their environmental footprint, he said. The only way to address these two factors is through innovation.

“Mines are getting deeper and deeper and grades are getting lower and lower every year,” he said. “You have to find better ways to get the ore out. You have to do it in a way that reduced power and water consumption. That is the only way you will get support for your projects.”

People have until Nov. 5 to submit their proposal to transform the mining sector. Goldcorp is looking for ideas that disrupt all segments of the sector.

Submission categories for #DisruptMining 2018 include:

  • Mining: how to operate and manage mines to increased productivity;
  • Metallurgy: how to decrease the mass, energy, water and chemical intensity required in metallurgical processes;
  • Sustainability: ideas to promote zero water and sustainable energy usage;
  • Digital Transformation: create digital intelligence with new applications and integrated interfaces;
  • Geology: improve mineral mapping and measurement; and
  • "Go Rogue": Any idea so out-of-the-box it deserves its own category.

The best submissions will be presented to a panel of industry professions in a shark-tank style event held in March during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual convention. The finalists will be vying for a $1 million capital investment from Goldcorp to bring their idea to the market.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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