Tag Archives: Paul House

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.”

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.

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.

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.

IMDEX signs agreement with Tier 1 miner to fast-track development of MAGHAMMER

IMDEX has signed a joint development agreement with a Tier One mining company to fast-track development of the IMDEX MAGHAMMER™ for commercial use, according to Chief Executive Paul House (pictured).

The MAGHAMMER uses a hybrid drilling technique combining rotary diamond drilling with fluid driven percussive drilling to achieve higher penetration rates compared with conventional coring. The technology enables an entire drill hole to be completed with a coring rig where RC and diamond drilling is required, according to the company.

IMDEX only exercised its option to acquire Flexidrill and its patent-protected drilling productivity technologies, COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER, in December, but it had carried out test work on the MAGHAMMER technology far in advance of the transaction.

Speaking at the company’s AGM this week, House reported a new rental fleet record and month-on-month increases in revenue since May as IMDEX recovered from a COVID-19-related downturn earlier in the year.

With the strength of the gold price and other key commodities, and exploration activity surging, IMDEX’s tool rental fleet is 19% up on the same time last year and exceeds the previous record set in 2012, the company said.

House told the AGM that the recommencement of activity globally since May had continued in most regions, albeit at different speeds.

“We achieved revenue of A$61.4 million ($43.5 million) in Q1 2021 (September quarter of 2020), which was up 26% on Q4 2020 (June quarter of 2020),” House said. “This result is only slightly behind the previous corresponding year at A$67.6 million, or 4.9% on a constant currency basis.”

House said the company is seeing multi-commodity demand, with clients “well-funded” and focused on resuming sustained activity as soon as possible.

The pressures of COVID-19, which forced various governments to impose border and travel restrictions, created strong demand for IMDEX technologies linked to its cloud-based IMDEX HUBIQ™, the company said.

“We have made great progress both because of and in spite of COVID-19,” House said. “The global pandemic has increased demand for our connected technologies that support remote operations. Conversely, it has hindered client trials due to limited access to site for non-essential personnel.

“On balance, the momentum for disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and the industrial internet of things is gaining cadence.

“The outlook for mining tech is brighter than it has ever been.”

On top of the MAGHAMMER reveal, House said client trials of the award-winning IMDEX BLAST DOG™ had resumed.

IMDEX BLAST DOG 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.

Just last month, the technology, being developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots and tested at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, won the Greyhound Innovation (METS) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards.

IMDEX, UFR win plaudits for Blast DOG deployment at Anglo’s Dawson mine

IMDEX’s Blast DOG™ technology is gaining recognition, with the drill and blast innovation winning a Queensland mining award last week.

IMDEX Blast DOG, being developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots (UFR) and tested at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, won the Greyhound Innovation (METS) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards.

A semi-autonomously deployed system for logging material properties and blast hole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine, IMDEX Blast DOG™ is commodity agnostic. It is a semi-autonomous system that helps optimise blasting based on high-resolution three-dimensional material models built from sensor data. It is aimed at helping miners get predictable fragmentation and determine ore and waste boundaries, and control vibration, dust, fumes and heave, the company says.

“No other technology has the capacity to produce the same data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes including enhancing productivity,” IMDEX said.

The judges said UFR and IMDEX conquered the challenge of logging blast holes, while removing operators from harm’s way.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said: “To be the winner among such esteemed competition is a testament to the team and our collaboration partners, Universal Field Robots, Anglo American, Teck Resources Ltd and Orica, supported by METS Ignited.

“IMDEX has a passion to provide the mining industry with purpose-built solutions. IMDEX Blast DOG is no exception and we are investing heavily in solutions that provide significant benefit to our customers.”

The IMDEX Blast DOG solution moved from concept to prototype in just four months which provided the platform and justification to develop a commercial version, IMDEX says.

The innovation category was hotly debated, with judges looking at all five finalists as addressing the industry’s big issues. This included Emesent’s Hovermap drone payload for “mapping the inaccessible”, Polymathian – “Transforming Mining Value Chains with Industrial Mathematics”, Redeye Apps – “Optimising O&M Inspections – The Redeye Digital Twin” and Sedgman – “SMART Condition Monitoring”.