Mining is one of those industries that often lives in our imagination as blackened faces grinning under the incandescent glow of their head lamps. We see the swinging of blunt instruments and the explosions and the five-storey earth movers, but we often forget the science behind the brute force.
Science hasn’t always been the stuff that mining embraces willingly. But that’s changing in the 21st century.
Integra Gold Corp. (ICG.V) and Goldcorp Inc. (G.T) are pleased to announce they have teamed with four of the world’s largest technology companies to explore potential applications of disruptive technologies in the mining sector.
#DisruptMining is a marquee event during the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference that will showcase disruptive and exponential technologies with the potential to revolutionize the future of mining, from exploration and discovery to production and automation, to financing, marketing and corporate social responsibility. Goldcorp has committed $1 million for a proof of concept at one of Goldcorp’s mines or investment in the winning technologies.
Analytics are everywhere, in every form of modern business, but many laymen view that and big data as the stuff of business and marketing; white collar stuff, tabulating credit risks while determining which ad to serve you. Programmatic advertising is an incredible breakthrough that can determine which ads would most appeal to you, hold an auction over those ads and then serve them to you as you surf the internet, all within 50 milliseconds. Pretty amazing, but did you ever think what analytics, big data and new tech can do for mining exploration?
If you are THE ENTIRE MINING INDUSTRY, no, you haven’t. We know this because we can beam a move in Candy Crush off a ball flying in space, bounce it back to a server in the Netherlands, have a computer calculate whether that was a smart move or not, bounce the result back off that ball, and have it in our hands in the space of an eye blink… but we still stick big spinning drills in the ground and wait a few weeks to see if a pointyheaded lab technician spots any shiny in the results, to figure out where, when, and whether we should spend millions on a mining project.
Integra Gold (ICG.V) and Goldcorp (G.T) have veered away from the middle ages recently their backing of this year’s inaugural #DisruptMining showcase at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference is not the first time they’ve looked to innovate.
Integra made considerable PDAC headlines last year when the company launched the Integra Gold Rush Competition. The company opened its exploration for the next major gold deposit on its Sigma and Lamaque gold properties in the storied Val-d’Or to the very modern idea of crowdsourcing.
Somewhat like the distributed computing network created by Seti to crunch deep space signal data, Integra made a six-terabyte database available to the public. This mammoth data dump included over 30,000 historic holes, more than 500,000 assays, detailed plans on hundreds of kilometres of mined underground workings, and photos as well as other statistical data – all dating back to 1934.
What took years to build would certainly take years to pore over, and if Integra hoped to hit pay dirt quickly, it would have to employ a third-party to focus solely on crunching the numbers. But if you give that work to potentially thousands of people with a generous cash prize for the best find, you’re bound to come up with an early answer as well as some leading-edge technical developments.
Goldcorp did the same thing back in 2000, dumping a 500Mb worth of data for crowdsourced analysis and found the process to be a success. Integra drove up the stakes and the responsibility with its elephantine data deposit, and the public latched on.
With $1 million in prizes, over 1,300 participants from 83 countries, 95 teams and 100 submissions, Integra Gold’s competition whetted the public’s appetite and the world watched on March 6, 2016 when Team SGS Geostat was awarded $500,000 for their submission, with $250,000 in finale event proceeds donated to Val-d’Or charities.
Executive Chairman George Salamis commented at the time, “…We are challenging traditional thinking and breaking new ground, embracing disruptive technology that is critical to the mining sector. The proposal from SGS Geostat represents the disruptive innovation we saw in the Gold Rush Challenge. We saw the tech sector and the mining sector collide and unravel the great mystery of discovery. SGS Geostat beat the odds, advancing out of the semi-final round and impressing the industry titans with their embrace of machine learning and virtual reality while also emphasizing the importance of tradition, data driven geology.”
Today’s announcement is another testament to the conviction of not only Integra and Goldcorp, but it also speaks of the conviction of tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and Accenture. All these companies will be presenting with Microsoft showing off its HoloLens, the first self-contained holographic computer, past Goldrush partner, and IBM, demonstrating the capabilities of its cognitive computing success, Watson. Both Cisco and Accenture will be highlighting their connected mine solutions.
Integra President and CEO, Stephen de Jong, stated, “We are thrilled that four of the largest technology companies in the world have committed to supporting the #DisruptMining initiative. Their commitment demonstrates the tremendous potential for technology to revolutionize the future of mining.”
The sizzle on this particular steak is Goldcorp’s commitment to providing $1 million for a proof of concept at one of its mines, or for investment in the winning technologies.
Todd White, Chief Operating Officer at Goldcorp, announced, “Our goal is to break down the wall between innovation and mining and facilitate collaboration across the sector.”
The deadline for submissions has been extended one week to January 25, 2017 and innovators are encouraged to submit their application via the submission portal at www.disruptmining.com before 9 pm PST, on that day.
Five finalists will be chosen to exhibit at the expo by February 1, 2017 with travel and accommodation expenses covered. The contestants will then present during a live “Shark Tank” style finale during the expo which will be held Sunday, March 5, 2017 at the Carlu Toronto.
This approach is both the perfect way to advance mining into the 21st century, but also does wonders for public image as it shows mining’s intent for modern environmentally sustainable solutions in the face of five bad commodity years and mining accidents such as Mount Polley. I applaud their efforts.
Will you be the next mining genius? It won’t be me, my laptop barely runs Office, but good luck to everyone else!
FULL DISCLOSURE: Integra Gold and Goldcorp are NOT EQUITY.GURU clients, but they should be, because we’re all ace.