Meet Goldcorp’s three finalists in #DisruptMining

These three are vying for a shot at a $1M investment

by Timothy Fowler
The stage was set for #DisruptMining in 2018.

The stage was set for #DisruptMining in 2018. — Photo courtesy Goldcorp

Each year #DisruptMining entries from industry innovators become a bit more technical. This year there are 90 bids to win the prize of a shot at negotiating a one-million-dollar investment. While the competition still accepts “Go Rogue” applications, Goldcorp has provided competitors with information on specific challenges as opposed to big, open-ended questions. By detailing specific challenges, Goldcorp is encouraging people to share more specific solutions.

Meet the three finalists in the 2019 #DisruptMining challenge and hear what they have to say about their bid for the big prize.

Anaconda Mining Inc.

Allan Cramm is vice-president of innovation and development at Anaconda, headquartered in Toronto.

What does your technology do?

The technology, known as Sustainable Mining by Drilling (SMD), was developed in collaboration with Memorial University of Newfoundland. SMD has the potential to economically mine deposit types that would not be profitable using traditional underground or surface mining methods. The developers also expect this technology could extend the life of current operations by allowing safe excavation to occur beyond the limits of current designs.

How will your technology impact the mining business?

SMD will impact the mining industry on three fronts. First, it will make certain deposits economically mineable that otherwise would not be. Therefore, it will mean that certain deposits can actually be considered reserves on companies’ books. Mining companies will be able to generate greater profits off certain deposits while lowering capital costs.

Second, mining companies will disturb less ground plus generate significantly less greenhouse gas emissions for a substantial reduction in environmental impact. Combining the many positive environmental attributes could potentially speed up the permitting process.

Third, since the equipment is used from surface and workers do not have to go underground, it is a lot safer method of mining.

How did you come to be involved with your company?

I have worked in mining and exploration for nearly 40 years. I joined Anaconda Mining in 2006 as project manager responsible for mine permitting and developing. The mine has been in commercial production for over 10 years. I have always been intrigued by technology and supported many technological changes we have implemented at our operation in Newfoundland. Nearly four years ago, I had a chance meeting with Dr. Steve Butt, a professor at Memorial University and I shared with him some ideas we had on how we could potentially develop deposits that didn’t fit current mining methods.  Steve was enthusiastic about the idea and a great collaborative relationship ensued. 

What would you tell non-industry guests at a family dinner about your bid to win #DisruptMining?

We are very excited about the opportunity to be on stage at #DisruptMining. Just getting there is a huge win for our company, given that this event is a premier technological showcase for the international mining industry.  We are honoured to have been recognized to have a potentially groundbreaking technology that could have a huge impact on the mining industry around the world. We feel we are on the cutting edge of bridging the gap between mining and community in an environmentally, sustainable way.   

How will a #DisruptMining win impact your business?

Winning #DisruptMining will bring a lot of positive attention to what we are trying to accomplish. We are trying to create a technology that will unlock valuable mineral resources in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. With the credibility gained from being a part of Disrupt Mining, we hope to attract financing sources and strategic partners to help us advance and commercialize our technology. Frankly, I don’t think we can really fathom the entire impact if we win. It’s very exciting to imagine.

Andritz Automation Ltd.

Arthur Gooch is director of innovation at Andritz Automation. Global headquarters are in Austria.

What does your technology do?

We have created an artificial intelligence for plant control. Our software learns the process by operating a simulated plant. Over many iterations in a safe environment, it learns the best operating points, how to start up and shut down, and how to respond to abnormal and emergency situations. We are combining established simulation and machine-learning technology to train software the way that pilots learn on a flight simulator before flying a real plane.

How will your technology impact the mining business?

Real autonomous control makes more money with existing equipment. The plant runs at its best operating point, startups happen faster, upsets are managed immediately and shift-to-shift performance is more consistent. Currently, it is taken for granted that many low-level control actions must be performed manually. We aim to show that autonomous control of the process plant is possible.

How did your team come to be involved with your company?

Our team is composed mostly of control engineers, who thought of this concept during our day-to-day work commissioning and optimizing mines. We entered the concept in an internal innovation contest very similar to #DisruptMining, judged by our executive board. We won that contest, and the prize was funding for a prototype and the opportunity to focus on developing the new technology.

What would you tell non-industry guests at a family dinner about your bid to win #DisruptMining?

Having done exactly this last night, I told them that we have applied to a technology competition that is looking to uncover significant innovations that fundamentally alter how the mining industry looks at a particular problem. We have created software that takes over error-prone or repetitive tasks from human operators so that the plant runs at its best, with more consistent production and fewer safety or environmental risks. Our technology is like a self-driving car for a mine.

How will a #DisruptMining win impact your business?

A #DisruptMining win would be a tremendous opportunity for us to deploy a pilot installation. At the moment, our artificial intelligence has run only in a simulated environment. With GoldCorp’s support, we would be able to take the important step from the laboratory to the plant.

Voith Turbo

Manfred Ziegler is the business development manager at Voith Turbo. Voith’s global headquarters are in Germany.

What does your technology do?

The foundation of BeltGenius is a precise mathematical model of a belt conveyor that allows the system to make permanent adjustments to achieve an incredible level of accuracy. Based on that, this digital twin provides detailed insights and actionable items for operators to run the system at its maximum performance and at lowest TCO (total cost of operation) possible. Moreover, the capabilities of the system grow and improve over time and with each application.

How will your technology impact the mining business?

BeltGenius offers a significant reduction of belt conveyor transportation costs by elongating the lifetime of all major components, minimizing maintenance needs, preventing unplanned downtime and reducing energy consumption. The insights created with BeltGenius help mining companies operate belt conveyors at their optimum performance and at lowest TCO possible. Belt conveyors become controllable for everyone. The support of BeltGenius will lead to a shift from using trucks and shovels to belt conveyors as a more profitable form of transportation.

Voith has sold over one-million drive components into the mining business and especially to belt conveyors. BeltGenius is the next consequent step towards becoming the most competent solution provider for the complete application “belt conveyor.”

What would you tell non-industry guests at a family dinner about your bid to win #DisruptMining?

Think of your medical doctor, who permanently and automatically learns from other doctors’ experience. The more colleagues contribute to this doctor’s knowledge, the better the doctor will be for you as a patient. Now that is what our system does for the conveyor. Each application will expand the knowledge base from which all will get the benefit.

How will a #DisruptMining win impact your business?

Winning would prove the significance of our offerings and speed up the adoption of our solution throughout the mining industry.

The three finalists and interested people watching this competition will know soon who wins the opportunity to negotiate a one-million-dollar investment with Goldcorp. The final battle for number one takes place in Toronto on March 3, 2019, before a sold-out crowd.

Goldcorp-sponsored #DisruptMining engages judges from across the mining industry.

Goldcorp-sponsored #DisruptMining engages judges from across the mining industry. — Photo courtesy Goldcorp

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