Tag Archives: IMDEX

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.

IMDEX addresses mining value chain pain points with ioGAS and aiSIRIS integration

IMDEX says it has combined two “gold standard” data analysis products to produce a powerful workflow that delivers results applicable across the mining value chain, from exploration to production.

The combination of IMDEX ioGAS™, a leader in geoscience analysis, with IMDEX aiSIRIS™, a leader in spectral mineralogy interpretation, provides the user with a powerful solution to merge and analyse spectral mineralogy data with geochemical and other geological data sets, the company said. IMDEX has been working on the interoperability of the two products since it acquired AusSpec last year and with it, the aiSIRIS technology.

Following the acquisition, AusSpec Founder and Director, Dr Sasha Pontual, joined IMDEX as its Global Product Manager for Automated Mineralogy.

aiSIRIS (pictured) is the first commercially-operating artificial intelligence spectral mineralogy interpretation system in the world and is the leader in automated spectral mineralogy from handheld infrared spectrometers, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX Technical Product Support Specialist, Dr Luisa Ashworth, who is working with Dr Pontual on the integration of aiSIRIS with ioGAS, said that until aiSIRIS was developed, spectral mineralogy was confined to spectral experts using old style software, resulting in long turnaround times and often delivering incomplete and inaccurate results.

“aiSIRIS generates a standardised output which is the first of its kind in spectral mineralogy and has been trained on over 2 million real world spectra, each of which has been interpreted in detail by a world-class spectral expert, meaning it is robust across all common geological systems,” Dr Ashworth said.

“aiSIRIS is producing expert-level interpretations much faster than a person would be able to with more accuracy than most spectral experts. It’s already clearly at the technical forefront of the industry and we are developing it to go further.”

Tools have been built into ioGAS for the direct query of spectral mineralogy, further refining the data analysis, which has implications for areas including mine planning, beneficiation and production, IMDEX said.

“The interoperability brings together two products that are the ‘gold standard’ in their fields,” Dr Ashworth said.

ioGAS Product Manager, Putra Sadikin, said the integration created a powerful data analysis workflow that delivered detailed rock knowledge analysis addressing key “pain points”.

“The first pain point is resolved by the way aiSIRIS automates spectral data interpretation using a cloud-based solution,” Sadikin said. “Once you push the automated mineralogy data to ioGAS, it addresses the second pain point, which is how do we easily find patterns in that data and get better value out of the mineralogical information?

“ioGAS adds an additional dimension of interpretation allowing the integration of the automated mineralogical data from aiSIRIS with a range of other IMDEX tools, and the more you know about the rocks the better decisions you will be able to make.”

Drill rig utilisation nears capacity in key mining hubs, IMDEX survey reveals

A snapshot of mineral exploration drill rig use in major mining regions globally has revealed Australia, USA and parts of South America are nearing capacity, as the surge in exploration continues unabated, IMDEX reports.

In a market update ahead of a presentation to the Macquarie Emerging Leaders Conference, IMDEX said rig utilisation in Australia was “nearing capacity” at 79%, and 72% in North America.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer Paul House said the company was able to produce the snapshot because of its global presence in major mining regions, adding that global rig utilisation had only just returned to or exceeded pre-COVID 19 levels.

The March snapshot showed rig utilisation was at 37% in Europe, 38% in South America, 30% in Africa, and 55% in Canada.

Activity in Canada would be significantly higher in the northern summer drilling season, House explained, while certain parts of South America were at high capacity percentages.

In regions nearing capacity, delivery times for new rigs had increased and labour shortages were adding to the pressure, according to the survey.

“We believe the industry is willing to invest and spend but may not be able to move as fast as it would like,” House said. “The industry drivers of depleted reserves, strong commodity pricing and the trend towards decarbonisation, are driving substantially increased industry exploration budgets.

“However, delivery against these targets will require time and investment in labour, drilling rigs, and other supply chain pressures that are a current constraint.”

He added: “When S+P says exploration will grow by 15-20% in a year and we see that the areas that are most active are running at maximum rig utilisation, and we know the lead time for new rig orders has blown out to nine or 10 months, we believe that increase won’t happen in that timeframe.

“A lack of rigs places even more importance on using the best technology to drill more metres with the rigs that are available.”

House said the long-term outlook for mining technology was strong.

IMDEX was positioned to benefit from increasing demand for digital operations and real-time orebody knowledge, with a strong core business and strategy to outperform industry growth, he said.

IMDEX on the importance of cyber security in the digital age

As the resources sector is adopting innovation, in particular digital technologies, at an increasingly rapid rate, mining companies should consider the cyber-security risks inherent with leveraging this innovation, according to mining technology company IMDEX.

Paul House, CEO for IMDEX, says the take-up of new technologies is happening on a scale that has not been seen in the past – a confluence of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to replace depleted existing mineral reserves.

“This is partly by necessity, to enable remote working, and partly by opportunity, as these technologies will enable faster drilling, more efficient drilling, and better decision making,” he said.

But every tool and technology that is added to a mining company’s arsenal – from exploration to production – increases the attack surface for hackers, according to the company.

IMDEX says it has countered this by achieving the “gold standard” in data security – certification against the exacting standards of ISO27001, an international information security standard recognised in 161 countries. The company received recognition for this information security standard in early 2020.

House said increasingly clients were asking for such security protocols to be in place.

The threat of cyber attacks intensifies as competitors, organised crime, and “state-based actors” seek to gain advantage by malicious means – searching for vulnerabilities in business systems that will allow them access a company’s most important secrets, according to the company.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has warned that the likelihood and severity of cyber attacks is increasing because of the growing dependence on new information technology platforms and interconnected devices and systems.

“Cyber crime is one of the most pervasive threats facing Australia, and the most significant threat in terms of overall volume and impact to individuals and businesses,” the ACSC said in its annual report last year.

Global communications company Inmarsat, in a 2020 report examining the rise of IoT in mining, said the majority of mining organisations were struggling to meet the security challenges presented by the IoT.

The report found that while respondents in their research were aware of the damage a cyber attack could trigger, the response so far to the threats had been minimal.

IMDEX Information Security Manager, Sameera Bandara, said cyber threats come from various sources, including hackers doing it for fun, criminal enterprises, competitors, and nation states.

“They use proxies and zombies to mask who and where they are and, even if we found them, prosecution would be a problem,” Bandara said.

IMDEX’s approach was that its systems needed to be secure to protect its data and that of its clients.

“IMDEX spends A$20 million ($15 million) a year on research and development,” Bandara said. “If competitors could get access to technology or tools in development by hacking our systems, the financial and reputational costs to IMDEX would be significant.

“But we also needed to protect our clients’ information by making our systems as secure as possible. We can then say if we have your data, then it is secure to a point where an attacker would have to spend considerably more resources to exploit than the value of the data.”

IMDEX supplies a range of technologies and tools that deliver data from exploration through to production, with the data uploaded to cloud-connected management tools and analytic software.

The company addressed the security issue by maintaining an Information Security Management System certified against ISO27001 security certification that covers:

  • Software development processes;
  • The product development lifecycle for its real-time subsurface intelligent solutions;
  • Manufacturing and deployment of products and technologies;
  • Client support processes; and
  • Information technology systems for supporting these activities and digital functions.

Bandara refers to it as the “gold standard” of data security – achieved after an assessment of its information security management system and processes.

“Many companies say they are aligned with the ISO27001 requirements without actually being certified and that’s because a lot more rigour needs to go into getting certified,” he said.

Mineralogy data needs a push upstream, IMDEX’s Dr Lawie says

The resources sector creates problems for itself from the first drill hole to production by not acquiring the right data at the right time, according to IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dr Dave Lawie.

Speaking ahead of an IMDEX webinar to be delivered to coincide with this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s virtual conference, Dr Lawie said that with the technology now available there was no longer any excuses for failing to have enough data to make informed decisions at every point in the mining process.

“The industry wants to find, define and mine ‒ but that has to be done with speed and precision and that can only be achieved with reliable data at the right time, which is as early in the process as possible,” Dr Lawie said.

The IMDEX PDAC webinar ‒ What’s the real value of data? Pulling Decision Points Upstream ‒ will feature presentations from IMDEX Drilling Optimisation General Manager, Charles MacFadyen (The importance of drilling smarter metres); Automated Mineralogy Global Product Manager, Sasha Pontual (Digital mineralogy: why it is important for exploration and mining); and Geochemist and Senior Software Analyst, Putra Sadikin (IMDEX ioGAS: Analytics from the upstream to your desk).

Dr John Steen, the Director at Canada’s Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining, has said lack of orebody knowledge leaves companies vulnerable to unforeseen costs which, in some cases, could threaten a mine’s viability.

Substantial write-downs have been attributed to less-than-expected ore grades, access issues which required revised mine planning, and process recovery problems, all of which could be avoided with better orebody data, according to IMDEX.

Dr Lawie said IMDEX technology enabled exploration companies to “drill smart metres” by drilling fast, efficiently and getting early-stage data.

“Doing that, which can include digital mineralogy, in the early phases allows you to get your exploration done, to test more targets and to evaluate them while you are involved in the drilling program,” he said.

At the “define stage”, resources are often not brought into production because there are complications apart from grade often related to mineral recovery, deleterious components, different levels of hardness, which stem from a lack of orebody knowledge, Dr Lawie added.

“Mineralogy is a key component in the define phase ‒ it is in exploration, but it comes into its own in the define phase ‒ because it has so many downstream impacts on mining,” Dr Lawie said. “Push all that information upstream and you can move through the resource definition phase into mining with a lot more confidence because you won’t be trying to fix a problem with mineralogy at the mining phase.

“That sounds trivial, but it’s not, and it’s the causation of a lot of stranded resources. People have not acquired adequate data early enough; they get downstream and want to develop a mine plan so they conduct metallurgical tests which reveal problems that they could already have known about.”

Referring to the third presentation in the webinar, Dr Lawie said IMDEX ioGAS™, an exploratory data analysis software application developed specifically for the resources industry, allowed complex data interrogation to be made quickly and easily.

“To be able to make import decisions in these data-rich environments ‒ and the amount of data is only going to increase ‒ you need to make extracting information accessible,” he said. “IoGAS has been doing that for more than a decade.”