The mining industry is not typically associated with big innovation, but that just means it’s ripe for disruption. That’s the take from Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. and Integra Gold Corp, who just announced they are hosting #DisruptMining, a showcase and competition for disruptive technologies for mineral exploration, mining, and more. The event will happen during the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference happening in Toronto between March 5 to 8.
At a Shark-Tank style panel of industry executives, and in front of an audience of more than 500 industry leaders, innovators can show off their idea to revolutionize the sector. They’ll compete for $1 million, either in the form of an investment based off a proof of concept at one of Goldcorp’s mines, or investment directly into the technology.
“The mining industry is overdue for radical, disruptive innovation that drives value and enhances safe production and performance across every aspect of our business, from exploration through to reclamation and closure,” said Todd White, senior vice president of technical services and business excellence at Goldcorp, and board member of the Canadian Mining Innovation Council. “Efficient, socially and environmentally responsible operations that deliver value for all of our stakeholders are simply good business and this event is designed as a catalyst to make that happen faster.”
The #DisruptMining event follows up from last year’s similar Gold Rush Challenge, where inventors and entrepreneurs applied VR, machine learning, AI and other technologies to a shared mining data set. This year’s event is more ambitious, looking at a wider range of solutions.
When these kinds of technologies start showing their potential, a lot of new money for R&D will flow into this sector, said Steve de Jong, president and CEO of Integra Gold. He’s particularly excited about the possibilities for making mining more efficient through VR and augmented reality. “If you see the computer model of the ore body earlier in the day and you know exactly where to be mining, you can reduce waste by one or two percent. That alone could save an operation $100 million.”
For other industries, showcasing technology in this way is par for the course – but for resource extraction companies, it’s been the opposite. “There’s a wall between technology and innovation in our industry,” he said. “There’s a lack of collaboration. We don’t share data, so we don’t share other information as well. We’d rather do it our own way.
“The news you see from other sectors that you don’t see here, it’s not because you’re not signed up to ‘the resource tech newsletter’. You’re not missing this. It’s not there.” In that sense, the #DisruptMining event aims to help break new ground.
The organizers of #DisruptMining will use the proceeds from the finale event to donate to charities and create scholarships designed to spur innovation in mining.
Innovator interested in pitching their idea at #DisruptMining can submit an application at www.disruptmining.com before 9 pm PST on Wednesday, January 18.