Luis Canepari, vice president, technology at Goldcorp, discusses the company’s #DisruptMining event and why innovation in mining is important.
Mining is an age-old business with established practises, and new technological developments are often few and far between.
Major miner Goldcorp (TSX:G,NYSE:GG) is looking to change that. Along with Integra Gold, the company launched the #DisruptMining challenge this past March at PDAC, and will be continuing it solo in 2018 now that Integra has been acquired.
Luis Canepari, the company’s vice president, technology, believes the event is hugely valuable, not just for Goldcorp but for the mining industry as a whole. “It’s been taking awhile for mining to embrace innovation. I think we’re ripe for disruption,” he said.
Goldcorp bills the #DisruptMining challenge as an “innovation expo” aimed at spurring collaboration between the mining sector and innovators working with exponential technologies, either in the mining space or in any other sector. The company recently released the details for next year’s event, and will ultimately choose three finalists to pitch at a “shark-tank” style live event at PDAC.
“Our idea was [to attract] people that have ideas who wouldn’t normally talk to us,” said Canepari. “[We wanted to] give a forum for those ideas to be presented and hopefully get funding for some of them to go to the next level and help change the way our industry operates.”
This year’s event had two winners: KORE Geosystems and Cementation. Goldcorp invested $1 million in KORE, and is in negotiations with Cementation. It hopes to help to bring a larger group of investors together so that Cementation can work on proof of concept. Canepari added that Goldcorp also made deals with companies that did not make it to the final stage of this year’s challenge.
When asked what 2018 competitors can do to be noticed by the #DisruptMining judges — who include George Salamis of Integra Resources (TSXV:ITR) and Rob McEwen of McEwen Mining (TSX:MUX,NYSE:MUX) — Canepari said participants should “go as creative as [they] can, go rogue.”
He added, “imagine what mining should be in 20 years and help us get there. This event is not about incremental improvement, it’s about disruption. It’s about how we transform a 2,000-year-old business.”
In Canepari’s opinion, “anything that improves safety and [a company’s] environmental footprint” is likely to be well received. Automation-related projects are also likely to attract attention. But for him, the most interesting area of disruption is exploration.
“If you look at mining, our exploration success rate as an industry is pretty low,” he said. “It’s very expensive and hard to find new ore deposits and to better understand them. Probably out of the entire cycle of mining that’s one area that is most ripe for disruption. Little ideas there could to a lot of good.”
Aside from hosting the #DisruptMining challenge, Goldcorp is taking many additional steps to push the development of mining technology. Canepari said that the company is “working very closely with Sandvik Mining and Atlas Copco on automation,” and is “very interested” in having more of its underground fleet become electric as diesel is a major cost element.
Other initiatives include plans to reduce water consumption and use renewable energy. The company is also looking at making one of its mines in Canada fully electric. “We really want this mine [to be] an all-electric mine and to reduce the environmental footprint and the cost of operations,” Canepari said, adding, “in every jurisdiction where we operate we look at making our mines more efficient.”
In closing, Canepari suggested that market participants consider changing up the criteria they use to evaluate the companies they invest in. “When you look at how investors look at mining companies, they look at things like the all-in sustainable cost, reserves, cashflow,” he said.
“If [investors] really want to significantly change any of the drivers they use to evaluate mining companies, they should be looking at what companies are doing in the next 10 to 20 years to change those drivers,” Canepari continued. “They should be looking more at what companies are doing in terms of innovation and R&D, and how they are making their processes more efficient.”
Submissions for the 2018 #DisruptMining challenge will be accepted from January 2, 2018 at 12:01 a.m. PST to January 16, 2018 at 8:59 p.m. PST. All semifinalists and finalists will be notified by February 5, 2018, and the live finale event will be held in Toronto on March 4, 2018. For more details, click here to visit the #DisruptMining website.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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