Richmond, British Columbia (BC)-based mining tech startup Ideon Technologies has raised $21 million CAD ($16 million USD) in Series A financing to help address the world’s looming critical mineral supply shortage.
Ideon’s all-equity, all-primary Series A round, which closed in August, was led by Palo Alto, California’s Playground Global, with support from undisclosed existing investors and Ideon employees. Ideon’s other investors include the University of British Columbia’s Seed Fund, which participated in the company’s $1.3 million July 2020 seed round.
Ideon’s solution scans beneath the Earth’s surface to identify new mineral and metal deposits before drilling.
The World Bank Group has estimated that the production of critical minerals must increase by nearly 500 percent—or three billion tons—by 2050 in order to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies. These materials, such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt, are needed in particular for the batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs).
Ideon believes that this global scarcity has exposed the issues with traditional exploration methods. The primary means of discovering new deposits today is drilling, which Ideon claims is “costly, time-consuming, does not provide broad visibility across an area of interest, and leaves damaging environmental impacts.”
The BC company offers an alternative to this practice with its tech platform, which scans beneath the Earth’s surface to help exploration geologists identify new mineral and metal deposits before drilling.
Major mining companies and critical mineral suppliers like BHP, Glencore, and Vale have already begun deploying Ideon’s tech to do just that. With this Series A capital, Ideon plans to expand its production capacity and further commercialize its tech to meet customer demand.
Founded in 2014, Ideon’s platform integrates proprietary detectors, imaging systems, inversion technologies, and AI to provide “X-ray-like visibility up to 1km beneath the Earth’s surface.” The startup’s tech detects sub-surface anomalies such as mineral and metal deposits, air voids, caves, and other structures, transforming the data it gathers into geophysical surveys and 3D density maps.
Ideon’s platform aims to help customers “drill less and discover more,” thereby reducing their cost, risk, and environmental impact. Spun out of the TRI-University Meson Facility (TRIUMF), Canada’s national particle accelerator laboratory, Ideon claims to be a pioneer in the application of cosmic-ray muon tomography.
To date, Ideon has raised approximately $18.5 million USD in total venture capital and secured $10 million in non-dilutive funding through government and industry initiatives.
Playground Global focuses on early-stage science and engineering companies around the world and has a particular interest in firms that leverage AI. Bruce Leak, general partner at Playground Global, believes that to build a reliable, sustainable, and secure critical mineral supply chain, the world needs “a radical new approach to discovering and mining critical metals and minerals.”
“Ideon has developed a major technological breakthrough that is being used by the world’s largest mining companies, today,” said Leak, who is joining Ideon’s board as part of the round.
Feature image courtesy Ideon Technologies.