Vimson Group and Newlab’s Prospect Mining Studio announces 2021 cohort

Vimson Group and Newlab’s Prospect Mining Studio has announced the 12 companies selected to participate in this year’s cohort, the Studio’s second since its initial launch in 2019. As the mining industry increasingly trends towards embracing green solutions to mitigate its impact on climate and the environment, Prospect Mining Studio enables innovative teams to build, pilot, and scale solutions that drive enhanced sustainability and operational efficiency; bring innovation from adjacent industries that have thus far not been applied to mining; and attract private capital to the industry.

As part of the Studio, the startups will “work to define critical gaps in the mining industry, develop prototypes, and pilot their solutions at mining sites in order to solve the industry’s most significant sustainability challenges.” The Studio’s focus areas include: reducing operational costs; improving the energy efficiency of ore processing; valorising tailings and reducing waste; maximising ore understanding; and enhancing worker safety. The cohort companies will address these focus areas by applying various technology platforms from industrial IoT and artificial intelligence to synthetic biology and alternative, low-carbon energy storage infrastructure.

“By employing agile experimentation in real-world environments, Studio pilots will enable teams to de-risk their technologies, gain insights for how to best adapt their solutions to the mining industry, and build momentum for adoption and long-term traction. These pilots will also serve to de-risk Prospect Mining Studio’s member companies’ solutions for other industrial and commercial use-cases beyond the mining industry, demonstrating the value of investing in mining innovation to enable clean energy transitions across industries.”

“Through the Prospect Mining Studio, Vimson Group and Newlab are collaborating to shape the future of mining by empowering startups to develop and pilot industry solutions with revolutionary potential,” said Vivek Salgaocar, Director of Vimson Group. “Amid the growing climate crisis, the future of mining will be increasingly defined by a trend towards sustainable practices that enhance efficiencies while reducing its impact on surrounding environments. The newly announced cohort of Prospect Mining Studio companies, which include leading innovators from across industries specializing in sustainability, will help the industry bring that future to fruition.”

In January 2021, Prospect Mining Studio announced a global open call inviting startups from both within and outside the mining industry to apply to join the Studio. Following a diligent review and selection process of more than 75 applicants from 17 countries that included feedback from mining industry leaders, the Prospect Mining Studio selected the following companies to participate in its 2021 cohort:

  • Pitcrew AI provides artificial intelligence-driven predictive analytics and condition monitoring for heavy vehicles and equipment, enabling fleet owners to extract the full value from their investment in autonomous assets by keeping vehicle fleets moving safely and effectively.

  • SBQuantum develops diamond based quantum sensors with vectorial capabilities for mineral exploration, infrastructure inspection, space, and defense. Its mission is to reduce the environmental and operational burden of exploration and to provide high precision magnetometers for navigation.

  • Muon Vision leverages a transformative, deeply penetrating X-ray technology to boost the throughput, sustainability and safety of mineral processing, steel-making and industrial processes.

  • Electramet develops targeted solutions for sustainable water treatment. Its technology protects the environment by allowing facilities to remove and/or recover heavy metals from their water streams, providing an added revenue source and turning waste into an asset.

  • SafeAI offers a bespoke, aftermarket solution for companies wishing to move towards autonomy and driverless operations in the mining and construction industries. Their solutions are custom-built and cost-effective, open and interoperable, and designed to work with any software system users prefer while enabling autonomous workflows. As their autonomous kit is a retrofit for any OEM brand, their customers are able to incorporate mixed-fleet automation.

  • Cemvita Factory applies the latest synthetic biology methods that are already disrupting adjacent industries to mining and other heavy industries. Cemvita’s biotechnology can leverage what nature knows to enhance the kinetics and resilience of biomining microbes from preconditioning of rock, to extraction of metals and recycling and remediation.

  • Impulstec GmbH is a high-tech company engaged in the development and construction of an industrial shock-wave system for material fragmentation and recycling applications. The innovative fragmentation process uses mechanical shock waves generated due to an electrical discharge in an underwater spark gap to disassemble composites.

  • rad.Data is a cloud-based spectral imaging services provider, driven by a superior algorithm and operated by world-leading spectral geologists. The service manages a deposit or mine-specific dynamic spectral database which functions as the live reference for multiple geometallurgical sensor applications along the value chain, such as exploration, mine-face mapping, stockpile management, ore sorting and process analytics. rad.Data unveils mineralogical information for machine automation, decision making and process control to enhance productivity and profitability.

  • Earth Alive Clean Technologies develops and distributes environmentally sound microbial products that resolve some of the greatest sustainability challenges currently faced in the mining, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.

  • Broadbit Batteries is a technology company developing revolutionary new batteries using novel sodium-based chemistries to power the future green economy.

  • Quidnet Energy is developing an alternative approach to energy storage by storing water to deliver energy. This new form of sub-surface pumped hydro storage enables large-scale deployment of renewable energy and allows for predictable, dispatchable delivery of power from intermittent renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

  • talpasolutions is one of the leading drivers of the Industrial Internet of Things in heavy industry. The company helps machine manufacturers and operators to make better and faster decisions by offering data-based, reliable and actionable insights that can be integrated into daily workflows. talpasolutions makes data accessible, understandable and usable to enable the industry to operate more productively, safely and sustainably.

“We are pleased to welcome an incredible slate of innovative companies determined to transform the  mining industry,” said Satish Rao, Chief Product Officer at Newlab. “As ESG and energy innovation continue to be major priorities for leading mining companies around the world seeking to combat climate change, Prospect Mining Studio strategically sought out innovative teams spanning disciplines, both from within mining and adjacent sectors, developing technology solutions with the power to make mining more sustainable and efficient. Over the coming months, we will work closely to support the startup teams as they build, iterate and validate their unique solutions.”

Prospect Mining Studio has also recently partnered with CMIC, an organisation working to transform mining into a zero-waste industry, to provide Studio companies with opportunities in the global mining industry, particularly in Canada, one of the largest and most forward-thinking mining regions in the world.

To get further insight into these latest developments IM Editorial Director Paul Moore caught up with key representatives of the Prospect Mining Studio including Satish Rao, CPO of Newlab and Vivek Salgaocar, Director of Vimson Group

Satish Rao, CPO of Newlab

Q What has been learned since the first cohort in terms of how best to help these types of companies get to market?

Our goal is to help the Prospect Mining Studio cohort companies gain traction in mining and establish their technologies as industry solutions. In last year’s Studio, we supported companies’ entries into the market by providing product development and innovation support, investment, and partnership cultivation between mining houses and early-stage ventures. Around two thirds of the Studio startups–many of which originally served industries other than mining–already have their product in the market. We’re excited to continue upon our success with this year’s cohort, which consists of companies from the mining industry as well as from other industries. For those already working in mining, our support will help them scale their platforms and build additional use cases in mining; for the startups from other industries, the Studio will enable them to bring their solutions into the mining industry by identifying new applications, learning from how their products are deployed in these other industries.

Q Has the level of interest in the Studio increased as its profile has increased?

Yes, following last year’s successful inaugural program, Prospect Mining Studio has earned industry recognition as a platform for global mining innovation. As a result, this year we had more than 75 applicants from 17 countries and the maturity of the startups has moved further, where we now range from seed to Series B level startups. We are also collaborating with global mining industry leaders, such as CMIC – an organisation working to transform mining into a zero-waste industry – to provide Studio companies with greater opportunities around the world. We look forward to announcing additional exciting collaborative efforts in the near future.

Vivek Salgaocar, Director of Vimson Group

Q How did the CMIC partnership come about and how will this enhance the scope of Prospect Mining Studio?

As part of our approach to driving innovation in mining, we strive to collaborate with leading experts and innovators in the mining industry. We are working with CMIC to identify and evaluate technologies that have the potential to help move mining toward a more efficient, sustainable future, and in particular, to help bring the Studio’s global reach of early stage technology companies to the Canadian mining market.

Q Can you give any examples of where first cohort companies have successfully been able to trial or pilot or even commercially introduce their tech whether at Vimson minesites or other mining operations?

CyanoGuard, the Switzerland-based chemtech startup shaping the future of cyanide detection for the gold mining industry and a member of the first cohort, is a prime example of a startup successfully piloting and scaling their product. CyanoGuard’s customer base is quickly expanding, with three of the world’s top ten gold producers by output among early adopters of CyanoGuard’s technology. Among the most recent projects started or scheduled are sites of KCGM in Australia, AgnicoEagle in Finland and Ecolab in Colombia.

Q Has the pandemic had any influence on the types of companies shortlisted this time around?

Coming out of 2020, the startup world is supercharged towards advancing sustainability and climate initiatives. This year we have startups driving sustainable solutions for battery storage, water filtration, mining exploration with less drilling, and much more.

Q Is it fair to say this time as well as small startups many of the cohort companies have already had considerable success but that the Studio will help them hit new potential markets and regions?

There are some companies that were selected for this year’s cohort that have some traction in the mining industry and there are some that are trying to pivot into the mining industry. Our mission is to leverage technology solutions, both from within mining and from other industries, and apply them towards mining use cases at scale. We believe a level of existing traction, in any industry, is important for us to start from in order to garner adoption from the mining industry.