Tag Archives: IMDEX

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.”

In-field mineral analysis key to unlocking further exploration dollars, IMDEX says

Exploration companies planning to cash in on the rush of capital into the mining sector risk losing out if they fail to take advantage of the latest tools to deliver real-time results from drilling programs, according to IMDEX.

Exploration activity is on the up ‒ spurred on by strong commodity prices supported by government stimulus, decarbonisation targets and demand across a broad range of sectors, the mining tech company says, referencing an Australia-focused exploration report from BDO.

In a sign of the surge in activity, there are reports of long delays at minerals testing laboratories in Western Australia, with miners and drillers waiting weeks for results, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX General Manager Product Development, Mark Gabbitus, said while verified laboratory samples were vital for mine planning, real-time in-field data also played an important part in decision making.

“The problem explorers face is that by the time they get the results back from a laboratory ‒ if it’s the only data they have ‒ it’s too late to make changes to the drilling program,” he said. “The holes have all been drilled and the rig is off site.

“IMDEX allows the geologist in the field to get quality data in near-real time that will allow them to make informed decisions. This data might not be the same as they use to build a model and make a billion-dollar investment to mine, but it is still material.

“With this real-time data, the geologist can make informed decisions about where to drill next, thereby maximising their limited exploration dollars.”

Additionally, using in-field solutions from IMDEX allows the geologist to decide which samples to send to the lab, or at least to prioritise which samples they need back quickly, helping them beat lab delays, according to Gabbitus.

“Capital will move to those who move quickly. Explorers who take weeks or months to get assay results risk being left behind,” he added. “With trusted data that shows promising results, you then have the opportunity to raise more cash or just change the way you go about drilling by drilling efficient holes.”

Gabbitus concluded: “Having indicative results from the field will help to put exploration and mining companies, alike, ahead of their competitors.”

IMDEX has a suite of downhole survey tools, core orientation and gamma logging technologies and in-field sampling and analysis products all linked to cloud-connected IMDEX HUB-IQ™ and data analysis software IMDEX ioGAS™.

IMDEX excited by structural changes in mining industry

IMDEX has heralded what it says is long-term structural change in the mining industry, as it reported a strong start to the first half of its financial year.

Delivering the company’s half-year results, IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, revealed a robust balance sheet with a net cash position of A$47 million ($36 million) in the six months ending December 31, 2020, up 84% on the same time last year.

The company reported EBITDA of A$33.1 million, up 6% on the same time last year and 43% on the second half of 2020, on revenue of A$124.3 million, down 3% on the same time last year, but up 13% on the second half of 2020.
House said the balance sheet strength enabled the company to accelerate targeted research and development in line with demand, and leverage opportunities for growth through acquisitions.

He said IMDEX continued to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on its global operations and had responded to increasing demand for remote working technologies and software, upgrading IMDEXHUB™ and releasing new ioGAS 7.3™ geochemistry data analysis software.

The company has a record number of gyro-related technologies on rent and reached a milestone with a record number of instruments on rent for December and January, it said.

“While the opportunity ahead of us is exciting, we remain watchful and ready,” House said. “We are watchful of the current risks posed by COVID and ready to meet the increasing demand for mining technologies.

“This confluence of risk and opportunities is accelerating long-term structural change in the mining industry.”

House said activity increased in most regions, most notably Canada, the US and West Africa, boosted by strong industry fundamentals.

“Our global reach and unrivalled product offering mean we can grow in all market conditions,” House added.

IMDEX said the positive outlook for mining technology was being driven by investment in metals tied to decarbonisation such as aluminium, cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium; mining’s essential role in the global economic recovery; and the minerals industry embracing new technologies.

The overall industry drivers are being reflected in increased exploration budgets, the company added.

IMDEX also reported in these results that it had signed a joint development agreement with a Tier 1 mining company to accelerate one of its key “rock knowledge sensor” technologies for commercial use. It also has a joint development agreement to accelerate its drilling optimisation tool IMDEX MAGHAMMER™ for commercial use, with ground trials under that agreement having started.

Near-infrared tech can help solve sampling problems, IMDEX’s Dr Pontual says

Mineralogical data can be used across the entire mining value chain, from exploration to production, to build a detailed picture of a project, according to one of the world’s leading spectral mineralogy experts.

Dr Sasha Pontual, who developed aiSIRIS – a cloud-based artificial intelligence spectral interpretation software for portable spectrometer data – told an IMDEX Xploration Tech Symposium that mineralogy was critical for avoiding potentially costly surprises.

aiSIRIS (Artificial Intelligence Spectral InfraRed Interpretation System) is a proven technology that has processed more than two million spectra from more than 1,000 mining projects across the globe, according to Dr Pontual.

Dr Pontual joined IMDEX as Global Product Manager, Automated Mineralogy, when her company, AusSpec, was acquired by IMDEX in 2020.

“Historically, mineralogy sampling has not been adequate, with exploration companies relying more on the assay data and the geochemistry rather than actually using the mineral information,” Dr Pontual said. “We really need to know our rocks. This allows for decisions to be made in an informed way.

“Previously it has been based on low-density sampling. There are big volumes of samples spread through a deposit, but a lot of the work is associated with extrapolating the results from those low-density samples and basing some very critical decisions on small amounts of sample material.”

Dr Pontual says this low-density sampling is often not sufficient to get a detailed view of what is happening within a deposit.

“(This leads to) unwanted surprises during the mine life,” she said. “Some of them can be quite serious and lead to millions of dollars of loss and have serious adverse effects on the economics of a deposit.”

Dr Pontual said near-infrared technology could be used to determine mineral types and associations, mineral chemistry and crystallinity, in exploration to vector to potential mineralisation, in life of mine studies and mine planning, and at brownfields sites to extend known mineralisation.

Hand-held near-infrared tools offered ease of use, speed of collecting project-wide data sets and provided data that can be easily integrated with geochemical data.

“Hand-held spectrometers are still the fastest and most cost-effective way of collecting project-wide mineralogy,” Dr Pontual said. “The combination of an infrared spectral survey with a geochemical survey is very powerful because you’re then integrating that mineral information with your geochemical data.

“The complementary data sets allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the alteration system and the deposit.”

Hand-held spectrometers deliver substantial amounts of data for analysis, but “it’s no use getting volumes of data that are difficult to apply and to visualise in a geological context”, according to Dr Pontual.

“Industry requires accuracy and comprehensive information with detailed mineralogy, but with outputs that are easy to use,” she said.

Information needs to be standardised across projects and within companies, according to Dr Pontual.

Machine learning is the best way of getting accuracy and to train a system to be able to interpret the spectra in the same way as a spectral expert, she said.

Dr Pontual added: “This is how we developed the aiSIRIS system. This is a training set of real-world spectra that has all the variables built into it. We have close to two million real-world spectra and each one has been interpreted to an expert level.

“The system is very robust across a whole range of different geologies and different spectrometers and geological settings. You don’t need to do any preparatory work you can just go straight to your project, measure the spectra and analyse the spectra using the tool because you don’t need to create a project-specific spectral library for your project.”

aiSIRIS complements IMDEX’s existing in-field GeoAnalysis solution and integrates with IMDEX ioGAS™ software to provide further interpretation and analysis, the company said.

Robotics on its way to the exploration industry, QR’s Scott says

Mining has entered a robotics boom as developers take substantial strides in artificial intelligence (AI), use of drones, and data capture and analysis technology that will deliver safety improvements and better managed mines, Queensland Robotics Executive Chairman, Andrew Scott, says.

Speaking at the IMDEX Xploration Technology Symposium, he said that with the development of autonomous haulage and drilling technology, the mining industry had moved through a “trough of disillusionment” around robotics and was rapidly accelerating towards the “plateau of productivity”.

The two-day online conference brought together experts in mining innovation and exploration industries to discuss the latest in new technologies, tools and advanced analytics.

Scott said acceptance of new technologies had been aided by restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the development of some digital transformation projects planned for the next three to five years being executed in three months.

“COVID is a significant accelerator and robotics is no exception,” he said.

Capital was available to fund new and emerging projects and was another clear indicator of a robotics boom, which Scott said would undoubtedly mean more jobs not less.

“There’s a lot of work that’s underway right now to really bring to the forefront a lot of automation and robotics to deal with enhanced data capture and execution of exploration programs and also within the mining environment,” he said in an interview ahead of the symposium.

“In the mining environment, we’ve seen the proliferation of automation in the form of autonomous haulage and autonomous driving, but now we’re seeing all the other ancillary services that are requiring automation and robotic solutions to take people out of danger but also to enable a highly efficient and productive system.

“We’re starting to see some of those capabilities move across into exploration, including the ability to deploy smart sensors in the field robotically, the collection of samples, and the analytical processing of those samples.”

He told the symposium the increase in robotics was aided by a reduction in sensor and computational costs, and, with more tools and technology available, there was increased adoption and acceptance.

“Robots are helping with the dirty, dull and dangerous, and distance challenges,” he said. “Applying robotics can definitely remove people from harm’s way. It can also augment what they are able to achieve by being able to explore in environments where until now we’ve been limited.”

This included in Australia, with areas subject to extreme heat, the high altitudes of the Andes, and subsea exploration.

“Robotics is surfing the wave of AI,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of development and growth in this area. We’ve gone past the AI winter, as they call it, and the acceleration of tools, and the ease of use of those tools is becoming a critical enabler.

“My prediction is that we’re going to see more and more solutions where they’re highly engineered highly capable, robust, highly configurable and easy to use.”