Tag Archives: IMDEX

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG to receive first commercial runout at Iron Bridge

Mining support technology, BLAST DOG, which was developed in Australia by IMDEX Limited, is set to be used at the Iron Bridge Operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia under a new three-year agreement.

Iron Bridge is an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB, with the agreement being the first commercial application of IMDEX’s BLAST DOG.

The agreement provides for the staged utilisation of BLAST DOGs, which IMDEX estimates will generate revenue of A$13 million ($9.2 million) over the initial term.

The BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blasthole sensing and physical measurement technology that is semi-autonomously deployed for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said this contract win was a defining moment for IMDEX.

“This is homegrown technology designed to provide meaningful, quantifiable benefits for the mining industry,” House said.

“We are not aware of any other technology that has the capacity to produce the same quantity and quality of pre-blast rock data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes.”

“The commercial success of BLAST DOG reflected in today’s announcement is a credit to IMDEX’s R&D team and their drive to make a difference in the mining industry.”

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dave Lawie, said the company overcame many obstacles, including mine access issues caused by COVID-19, to deliver the BLAST DOG project in Australia and the Americas.

“Today’s announcement is exciting because we know what BLAST DOG can produce,” Lawie said.

“It is recognition for five years of intense effort spanning the USA, Queensland, Western Australia and Chile in conjunction with our METS Ignited project partners.

“In addition to the work for the Iron Bridge joint venture, we are involved in ongoing, pre-commercial trials across various operations in Australia, Canada and Chile.”

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG provides material physical property measurements prior to blasthole drilling to inform decisions regarding blasting, screening, blending and stockpiling, among others, before these materials are subject to processing. These properties form the inputs to a tactical approach to ore characterisation and processing, IMDEX says.

Possible benefits offered by IMDEX’s BLAST DOG include the ability of mining companies to develop programs which:

  • Optimise explosive selection and costs;
  • Improve fragmentation;
  • Improve material and grade control;
  • Reduce geotechnical risk;
  • Detect voids;
  • Define ore boundaries and prevent ore waste dilution; and
  • Reduce fume, flyrock, vibration, air-blast and dust.

The BLAST DOG contract capped off a year in which IMDEX delivered record revenue, record earnings and continued margin expansion.

It reported record revenue of $341.8 million, a 29.3% increase on the same time last year; alongside record EBITDA of A$104.9 million, an increase of 38.9% on last year; and net profit after tax of A$44.7 million, up 41% on last year.

IMDEX focuses on drilling fluids, AMC BORE HOLE STABILISER release to boost productivity

IMDEX is talking up the use of drilling fluids as part of its holistic focus on improving drilling performance when out in the field.

The company’s drilling optimisation solutions combine best-in-class technologies, sensors, and motors to deliver improved performances, but, for IMDEX Drilling Optimisation General Manager, Charles Macfadyen, drilling fluids are at the start of the value chain, maximising the data delivered from the company’s technology and tools.

“Costs are always increasing, so the emphasis is on precision drilling: drilling smart metres and drilling efficiently,” Macfadyen said.

“It all relies on fluids to be able to do that. Fluids are an essential part of the drilling process with the potential to unlock hidden productivity when used effectively.”

He says while the oil and gas industry has long understood the importance of fluids and the skills of mud engineers, the understanding within the mineral exploration community has not been as widespread.

“There is a big difference in the cost of exploration drilling between oil and gas, and mineral exploration, but the science and logic will come to mining; the understanding that it’s far more than just a fluid, there’s an understanding of what equates to precision and enhanced performance that makes it special.”

Additional costs caused by higher operational standards, environmental restrictions and increased hole depths will continue – and could be the catalyst for a greater understanding of the part played by fluids, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX has around 100 drilling fluid products to cater for specific regional and global requirements, with the most recent addition being AMC BORE HOLE STABILISER™ (BHS).

BHS is a multifunctional product formulated specifically for air drilling applications, particularly drill and blast applications.

It helps prevent a wide range of down-hole problems including poor collaring, hole decay or sidewall instability, provides a degree of lubrication to the hole and will improve the lifting capacity of the air stream for cuttings transportation, according to the company.

Use of BHS in an underground mine in Western Australia resulted in an increase of up to 40% more metres drilled per day, reduced drilling consumables by up to 50%, improved load times and explosives use for explosive crews, and reduced HSE risks through less manual handling to mobilise and install casing, IMDEX says.

“For drill and blast, the side wall imperative is for both function and efficiency,” Macfadyen said. “BHS delivers improved productivity while using less explosives and less redrills.

“IMDEX drilling fluids are much more than a fluid – you actually get the knowledge that comes not just from making premium fluids and understanding that over more than 30 years, but also the knowledge that comes from our understanding of the drilling market, and of rock knowledge.

“Others don’t have that rock knowledge. It’s the tangible knowledge that at any given moment in time you know what you’re drilling through, the geological understanding, the resource definition, the granular knowledge behind how to optimise your fluids program to cater for that.

“Whether it’s orientation, mineralogy or any geological understanding it’s the essential knowledge that you need to develop a fluid or optimise a drilling program.

“It puts us in a leading position. Unlike others, IMDEX is able to leverage intimate rock knowledge, lab capabilities and global mud engineers to unlock the potential of any drilling program.”

IMDEX’s presence in 70% of major mining operations globally has allowed the company to foster this knowledge, according to Macfayden.

IMDEX lines up three new product launches for PDAC 2022

IMDEX plans to arrive at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto, Canada, next week with a suite of products targeting quality, accuracy, and precision.

The company will use the first in-person PDAC conference in more than two years to showcase new and improved tools and technologies that build on its reputation as market leaders in enabling clients to find, define and mine orebodies with precision and at speed, it said.

The in-person event will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) from June 13-15.

IMDEX General Manager – Rock Knowledge, Mark Gabbitus, said the re-engineering, design upgrades and product evolution inherent in each of the products reflected IMDEX’s approach of constantly reassessing its products to ensure they are the best in market.

REFLEX GYRO SPRINT-IQ™

Responding to customer requirements, IMDEX has re-engineered and improved its REFLEX GYRO SPRINT-IQ running gear, reducing the weight of the total kit by around half, from 90 kg to about 45 kg.

“These improvements really address user requirements,” Gabbitus said. “We have taken a tool that has been in the market for a long time and made improvements around the size and the workflow.

“We’ve made it lighter, shorter, easier to handle and therefore safer. The running gear for overshot applications made the tool around 3.3-m long that came in three cases weighing 90 kg and took two people to handle. Now it’s around 2.7 m and is light enough for one person to manage easily.

“We’ve done a lot of work to improve it, making it smaller and lighter, easier to carry and to operate. This is particularly important in the confines of an underground environment.”

REFLEX OMNI-IQ™

IMDEX will demo its new gyro tool, the REFLEX OMNI-IQ which, it says, maintains its position as the leader in survey accuracy.

“OMNI addresses quality and accuracy of delivered data,” Gabbitus said.

“Sprint has been the most accurate gyro on the market to date, but gyro technology has evolved and now OMNI is the most accurate; it’s the natural evolution of the technology that we have developed and pioneered.

“We’re testing commercial prototype tools in Australia and Canada and the workflow and data results have been excellent.”

REFLEX IQ-LOGGER™

IMDEX will also present the next generation of its IQ-LOGGER, the core logging solution that provides fast, accurate structural measurements.

Gabbitus said the improvements were, again, in response to customer feedback.

“We’ve taken what is a very popular product and revamped it, making the workflow more efficient, and the tool more robust, easier to handle, and better from an ergonomic perspective.

“We launched IQ-LOGGER at PDAC in 2015, so it’s fitting to be able to unveil the new-look, next generation of the tool this year.”

Exploration drill rig use on the up, IMDEX says

New mineral exploration rig use figures released today by IMDEX show continued strong activity in most major mining regions internationally.

The combined Australia/New Zealand region continued to be a standout, with rig use at 82% of capacity despite the number of rigs available increasing by 13% over the past year.

Reflecting that growth, IMDEX says March-quarter revenue for its Asia Pacific region including Australia is up 28% on the same time last year.

The rig use snapshot, contained in an IMDEX presentation to the Macquarie Australia Conference on May 4, examines the state of rig use in April this year and updates a similar assessment conducted by IMDEX at the same time last year.

IMDEX used the Macquarie presentation to reveal an overall March-quarter revenue increase of 29% compared with the same time last year.

A further regional breakdown showed revenue in the Americas was up 35%, and Africa and Europe was up 20%.

The rig count figures, of surface and underground coring and RC rigs, showed that rig use was at 62% of capacity in Canada, up from 46% at the same time last year, South America was at 50% (39%), Africa 73% (54%), Europe and the Middle East 48% (39%), and Asia 46% (37%).

Rig use was down in the US at 57%, compared with 72% last year, and Mexico and Central America 42% (44%).

Globally, the rig use figure stood at 56%, up from 46%.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said the size of the global rig fleet had decreased from April 2021, as older rigs were retired and new, safer rigs were being commissioned, but resource companies had committed to more exploration and higher standards of HSE, and drillers had committed to buying more rigs.

He said a skilled labour shortage, the replacement trend, rig transfers and a lag between purchase and delivery were responsible for a decrease in the overall size of the global fleet, but these were short-term constraints.

Drillers were buying more rigs as the industry continued to grow, he added.

“The pleasing aspect of our business activity to date is that even in this period of transition of the rig fleet, IMDEX has recorded a 29 per cent increase in third quarter revenue — a result which has outperformed the market,” House said.

The fundamentals driving the sector remain unchanged, he said.

Strong commodity prices were being driven by increasing demand and decreasing reserves, there was an increasing demand for battery metals, strong capital raising across all commodities, and an increasing demand for secure, real-time rock knowledge data and solutions to support remote and automated operations.

“The commitment to growth in exploration by all participants in the resource sector is high and reflects both the positive underlying fundamentals and the sense of urgency required,” House said.

“Execution, however, is likely to take place over a longer period of time than planned, leading to a longer growth cycle.”

New IMDEX rig count shows strong growth in major mining regions

New mineral exploration rig use figures released by IMDEX have revealed strong growth in major mining regions across the globe.

The rig use snapshot, which account for seasonal factors, were contained in an IMDEX presentation to the Macquarie WA Forum on December 2. They were taken in October and updated a similar assessment conducted by IMDEX earlier this year.

The figures, of surface and underground coring and RC rigs, show the fleet is close to capacity in Australia and New Zealand at 81%, up from 72% in April.

European rig use in October was 50%, up from 39%, South America 48% (39%), Africa 57% (54%), Canada 65% (46%), Mexico and Central America 48% (44%).

Globally, rig use increased from 46% in April to 55% in October.

The USA, at 64%, was down from 72% but North America was up from 49% to 59% utilisation.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said delivery times for new rigs had increased, and the sector was facing skilled labour shortages and mobility restrictions — but these were short-term constraints.

“We’re seeing recovery and growth in all key IMDEX regions,” he said. “This is flowing through to revenue, and is reflected in increasing demand for IMDEX HUB IQ™ connected sensors and software as companies continue to embrace innovation and new digital ways of working.”

House said there was continuing strong demand for gold, copper and other base metals, but that demand for critical minerals was expected to increase at a faster rate because of the push for decarbonisation.

The profile of exploration spending is shifting, through a combination of targeting, compliance, and drilling at depth, he added.

House said the company’s recent acquisition of Mineportal and investment in Datarock had added strength to IMDEX’s geoscience analytics, artificial intelligence, and computer visualisation capabilities as part of its integrated rock knowledge expertise.

“IMDEX technologies enable us to provide critical insights right through the mining value chain,” he said. “Our global presence is unrivalled and provides a compelling opportunity to embed real value for clients.”

RealWear assisted reality devices help IMDEX overcome travel restrictions

IMDEX personnel are using assisted reality devices from RealWear to, the company says, guide Australian and international clients isolated by COVID-19 as they install and use its latest products.

Using RealWear’s flagship HMT-1 devices delivered to its mining clients, IMDEX hardware and software engineers and product developers can assist on-site workers from thousands of kilometres away.

IMDEX turned to the solution to circumvent COVID-19 travel restrictions, which prevented support personnel being on site.

The RealWear technology is a rugged, head-mounted, voice-controlled, device that offers hands-free operation for frontline workers, according to IMDEX. The devices are equipped with a high-definition camera to take pictures and video from the wearer’s perspective, enabling IMDEX experts to guide the worker and provide advice.

Two-way audio with optional noise cancellation and a high-resolution micro-display that sits below line of sight, allowing for maximum peripheral vision, give workers and IMDEX experts the real-time data they need to operate, inspect and maintain equipment, according to the company.

Use of the assisted reality devices emerged after IMDEX grappled with how to support clients in South Africa when sending support teams was not possible because of border closures.

IMDEX Global Equipment Integration Engineer, Chris Havenga, said the hands-free aspect of the RealWear devices meant they had particular application for underground mining, where operators sometimes had to hold tools and tablets while working above eye level.

“COVID inspired innovation and change at IMDEX to ensure we continued to support our clients,” Havenga said. “There are endless possibilities with the RealWear device. It’s worth having a device supplied to clients along with our products and tools and, if there are any issues, operators can put it on and get the experts to assist for that particular site at the time they are having the problem.

“We can join them remotely while they are working, assess the issues and provide a solution.”

He said the devices could become a standard inclusion for IMDEX client support, along with manuals and tutorials. Offering the same functionality as a tablet, the devices enabled operators to consult manuals and other written material while dealing with on-site issues.

IMDEX is using the devices on sites in South Australia, New Zealand, the US and South America, it said.

Realwear Asia Pacific Vice President, John Higgs, said: “HMT-1 devices provide a reality-first, digital-second experience. Previously, industrial workers have not been able to use wearables, as they were overly immersive and not rugged enough.

“RealWear is unique in its ability to deliver hands-free connectivity without distracting the worker on a very rugged device capable of being deployed even in explosive environments.”

IMDEX sets BLASTDOG drill and blast tech on commercial course

IMDEX has announced what it says is a “major milestone” for its BLASTDOG™ drill and blast technology.

IMDEX BLASTDOG is a semi-autonomously deployed system for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine and is commodity agnostic, according to the company. It has been developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots and tested at mines in Queensland, Western Australia, Chile and Nevada (USA).

At an industry event today, IMDEX said BLASTDOG would move from engineering development to commercial prototype by the end of the year.

Progress was outlined to representatives from development partners from METS Ignited, as well as other mining sector executives.

IMDEX said there is already strong industry interest in BLASTDOG because of its capacity to deliver reliable, real-time data that will enable critical mine planning decisions to be made earlier, introducing greater efficiencies throughout the mining value chain.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said no other technology had the capacity to produce the same data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes, including enhancing productivity.

“It has the capacity to improve productivity, efficiency, and safety and is part of IMDEX’s internet of geosensing initiative, and will significantly increase mine to mill efficiency,” House said. “Moving to a commercial prototype is a significant development. We will work with prospective clients to ensure that when it is released IMDEX BLASTDOG will deliver the results, efficiencies, and safety that will be its trademark.”

Among the benefits of IMDEX BLASTDOG outlined by the company are the ability to:

  • Improve fragmentation;
  • Improve material and grade control;
  • Reduce geotechnical risk;
  • Reduce adverse vibrations;
  • Define ore boundaries and prevent ore waste;
  • Indicate reactive ground; and
  • Reduce fume, fly rock and vibration

IMDEX bolsters real-time rock knowledge with Datarock investment

IMDEX says it has boosted its rock knowledge capabilities with a deal to acquire an initial 30% stake in image analysis company Datarock for A$5.5 million ($4 million).

Datarock has, IMDEX says, extensive geoscience and data science expertise that has led to the development of a cloud-based platform which applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the extraction of geological and geotechnical information from core imagery, videos, and point clouds. This automation creates high value datasets that drive efficiency within mining operations, IMDEX added.

IMDEX has an exclusive option to acquire the remaining interest in Datarock over the next four years in a two-tranche process, subject to Datarock achieving agreed strategic milestones.

The partnership will enable IMDEX and Datarock to work together to accelerate growth plans, including product development and market expansion, it said.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said Datarock’s existing and planned products complemented IMDEX’s existing software including ioGAS™, aiSIRIS, MinePortal, and its cloud-based platform IMDEXHUB-IQ™, and strengthened the company’s ability to deliver real-time rock knowledge answer products.

“The Datarock team and the products they have built are strongly aligned with our strategy, our existing product offering and our value proposition for clients,” House said. “Data collected by geologists and engineers inform operational and financial decisions throughout a mine’s life cycle. This data is commonly collected manually, which is slow, laborious and can be prone to human error. Datarock aims to eliminate this error and deliver high quality and auditable data that provides value for the entire life of the mine.

“We are looking forward to working with the Datarock team. Its members are experts in the field of geoscience, data science and AI, and like IMDEX, have a drive for developing technologies to solve the mining industry’s biggest challenges.”

Datarock is an Australia-based mining technology company servicing the global exploration and mining sector. It is owned by two private companies, Solve Geosolutions Pty Ltd and DiUS Computing Pty Ltd. Solve Geosolutions and Datarock recently combined to both operate under the Datarock name. Solve is one of Australia’s leading geoscience machine learning and data science consulting businesses. DiUS is an Australia-based consultancy that helps organisations build the future using its expertise in AI, machine learning, IoT, cloud computing and product development.

Datarock’s products are applicable across the mining value chain, from geotechnical analysis of drill core during drill out, through to the mining and extraction phase, according to IMDEX. It has an existing customer base with major mining companies globally.

Datarock Chief Executive Officer and Director, Liam Webb, said there were clear synergies between Datarock’s products and several of IMDEX’s offerings.

“By working together, we will add considerable value to both companies,” Webb said. “When we started seeking investment our primary goal was to align ourselves with a company who saw the future the same way we did and could help us achieve our goals. I feel by entering into this agreement with IMDEX, who we believe are one of the world’s leading mining technology companies, we have achieved this.”

IMDEX looks for 3D rock knowledge data with MinePortal acquisition

IMDEX says it will acquire DataCloud’s MinePortal software in a circa-A$20 million ($14.8 million) cash and shares deal that will significantly enhance the company’s data visualisation and analysis capabilities and build on its real-time orebody knowledge technology.

MinePortal is a next generation cloud-connected orebody knowledge technology which interprets and models geological data to enable real-time 3D visualisation, according to IMDEX.

It processes high volumes of data in real time, while applying geostatistical and machine learning algorithms to identify orebody trends. MinePortal contains three integrated solutions: Data Lab, Blast Intelligence and Blend Intelligence, with IMDEX intending to integrate the technology with IMDEXHUB-IQ™ and enhance the real-time orebody knowledge ecosystem.

The transaction will accelerate the development of the IMDEX BLASTDOG™ geosensing tool and enhance its value for clients by linking data obtained from both IMDEX and third-party products to deliver real-time 3D visualisation models, the company said.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said the acquisition continued the evolution of IMDEX with its focus on technology to deliver real benefits for clients throughout the mining value chain.

“The purchase of MinePortal is in line with IMDEX’s strategy to move into the production end of the mining value chain and will complement our other initiatives,” House said.

“The ability for IMDEX and DataCloud to bring together IMDEXHUB-IQ, IMDEX BLASTDOG, and MinePortal is genuinely exciting. The partnership will accelerate our product development roadmap and will benefit IMDEX, our clients and the global minerals industry.”

House said the integrated rock knowledge technology will allow visualisation of rock knowledge data in 3D, supporting enhanced decision making in real time.

“To build and view these high spatial density models in the cloud, in real time, and access them from anywhere in the world, is world class tech,” he said.

“MinePortal will enrich the value that current and future rock knowledge sensors provide clients; it has an existing presence within mining production that is readily scalable; and it increases our Software as a Service offering and will generate additional quality revenue.”

The acquisition is subject to conditions including a final vote of DataCloud shareholders to approve the transaction, which is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.

The cash and performance-based share deal involves an initial cash payment to DataCloud of A$8 million, which will secure the assets and intellectual property relating to MinePortal.

The share-based component of the deal will occur from 2022 to 2024, with a pre-agreed number of shares being issued in 2022 and 2023, and with a third tranche of shares paid in 2024, if revenue targets are achieved. On the current share price, the combined value of the share component of the deal is about A$12 million.

Key DataCloud personnel will join IMDEX, complementing the company’s existing presence on the west coast of California, and bring additional artificial intelligence and geoscience expertise.

PYBAR sets records at Glencore’s Black Rock mine with Sandvik DL432i longhole drill

The introduction of PYBAR’s new Sandvik DL432i longhole drill in October 2020 has led to month-on-month improvements in drilling productivity at the Black Rock copper-lead-zinc mine, in Queensland, Australia.

Versatile and compact, the Sandvik DL432i is a fully mechanised electro-hydraulic top hammer longhole drill, designed for large-scale mining. The Sandvik iSOLO drilling control system allows the client (Glencore in this case) to provide electronic drill plans on a USB, which is plugged straight into the drill. The operator then lines the drill up on the survey markings and selects the required drill design, with the remainder of the drilling taken care of by the iSOLO software.

Since arriving on site, a specialised pump has been installed on the DL432i, allowing AMC (a subsidiary of IMDEX) to add a Bore Hole Stabiliser™ to the water circuit while drilling to improve hole integrity in the soft ground conditions. This technology, combined with Sandvik’s iSOLO drilling control software, has been key to PYBAR’s production success at Black Rock to date, the contractor said.

“The ground conditions at Black Rock have put Sandvik’s iSOLO drilling control system to the test, and the technology has proven itself with flying colours,” PYBAR said. “After several months of on-site refinement of the automated drilling system, the drill can now operate with minimal operator input.”

This has led to month-on-month increases in production drilling rates with a record month in March, closely matched in April, according to PYBAR. This, in turn, has meant a significant increase in available production fronts resulting in increased tonnes and improved overall project performance.

Trials of automated drilling for complete firing patterns will begin shortly at Black Rock to enable drilling to take place during firing and shift change, as well as free up the operator to assist with other tasks around the mine, PYBAR said.

The transition to further automation has the potential to significantly maximise both productive drilling time and overall performance for the project, it added.