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SBQuantum and Silicon Microgravity to accelerate underground mineral deposit discovery

SBQuantum, a company claiming to be the first developing diamond quantum magnetometers to accelerate critical mineral discovery, has announced a new partnership with Silicon Microgravity, a disruptive technology company developing innovative inertial and gravity sensors.

The project will see the development of a drone-based system of sensors combining magnetics and gravimetry to accelerate the location and analysis of underground mineral deposits for the mining industry. This joint approach will, it says, significantly reduce the time and capital required for locating and analysing deposits in the field, while also improving 3D geological readouts.

David Roy-Guay, CEO and Co-Founder of SBQuantum, said: “It is of paramount importance for SBQuantum to both develop international partnerships as well as diversify our sensing stack to improve hit rates for mineral drilling. This project with Silicon Microgravity accomplishes both. We would like to thank IRAP for providing part of the funding to deploy quantum magnetometers in the field, on airborne platforms, and we’re eagerly looking forward to deploying this hardware in the field.”

These dual sensor systems can be deployed via drone over mining claims of all sizes to detect underground deposits from the sky. These include strategic minerals such as cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, platinum, rare earths and others. Whereas conventional magnetic field maps provide limited data regarding 3D depth information, this new, combined approach overcomes this issue, allowing users to see the geology in 3D after a single survey and with at least 30% greater resolution than the current industry standard, SBQuantum claims. In turn, this may reduce the need to move heavy equipment and personnel around remote areas, fast-track drilling operations and provide a higher hit rate, all of which drives down costs.

Francis Neill, Chief Executive Officer and Director at Silicon Microgravity, said: “We’ll be combining two key geophysical surveying methods, gravimetry and magnetics, to quickly identify promising mineral deposits. Based on these complementary techniques, we anticipate accelerating the discovery of many of the 300-500 new strategic mineral deposits required to move the global energy transition forward.”

The Quantum Accelerated Mining Exploration project, or QUAMINEX, is being partially financed by the governments of Canada and the UK, which have contributed C$500,000 ($368,743) and £414,000 ($524,603), respectively.

SBQuantum’s funding comes from Canada’s IRAP program, as part of the National Research Council’s grants for Canada-UK collaborations using quantum technologies. Silicon Microgravity’s funding was courtesy of UK Research and Innovation, which is funding the British part of these transatlantic collaborations.

The project, which will take 18 months to complete, also represents the first deployment of a diamond-based quantum magnetometer on a drone. Both partners are currently optimising the positioning of their sensors on the drone for maximum efficiency, SBQuantum says. Once the equipment is ready, testing will begin in a remote area of Canada.