Luis Canepari, Goldcorp’s vice president, technology, reflects on this year’s #DisruptMining competition and shares what he’d like to see next year.
This year’s #DisruptMining competition may be over, but for Goldcorp’s (TSX:G,NYSE:GG) Luis Canepari the search for mining industry innovation never stops.
“I believe there are ideas out there that we still haven’t seen that could totally change the industry,” said Canepari, the company’s vice president, technology. “I believe we can go even more rogue next year.”
The expert panel was made up of Todd White, COO of Goldcorp; George Salamis, president and CEO of Integra Resources; Rob McEwen, chairman and chief owner of McEwen Mining (TSX:MUX,NYSE:MUX); Wal an Leirop, president and CEO of Chrysalix Venture Capital; and Veronica Knott, a UBC Mining Engineering student and 2017 Engineers Canada Gold Medal Student Award recipient.
Acoustic Zoom wowed the judges with its ultra-high-frequency 3D drill hole seismic imaging and earned the opportunity to negotiate a contract or investment of up to $1 million with Goldcorp.
“[The company’s technology] has a lot of potential for exploration,” Canepari said. “It also has potential for safety … we’re looking at [using it at] two mines — one from a geological perspective and one from a safety perspective.”
Canepari noted that Integra Resources is also interested in using Acoustic Zoom’s technology at a mine in the US, and mentioned that the company participated in #DisruptMining in 2017 as well.
“[Last year] their prototype was so bulky that we didn’t believe it was feasible to actually put it to work in remote locations,” he explained. “We said, ‘well it sounds like exciting technology,’ but we couldn’t figure out how to make it work — it wasn’t portable enough.”
Acoustic Zoom took the feedback to heart and returned this year with an adjusted product. “They made the prototype a lot smaller and [more] portable, and they simplified the technology to the point where we believe that we can now use it at any of our sites,” said Canepari.
Overall, he was pleased with this year’s #DisruptMining submissions, describing them as more robust and stronger than they were last year. “I saw a huge uptick in the quality of the proposals,” he said. Unsurprisingly, he said, this year’s applicants focused heavily on “augmented reality, artificial intelligence [and] blockchain,” while 2017 was more about automation.
In terms of what he’d like to see next year, Canepari said he’d like competitors to look more at environmental topics. “I think there are opportunities … to reduce our water footprint, to reduce our environmental footprint, and I’m hoping next year we’ll get more of [that].”
Of course, Canepari and Goldcorp will be undertaking other initiatives throughout the year to push innovation in the mining space. Canepari explained that Goldcorp has two key internal programs that it uses to stoke new ideas — the first is a set of awards given out to recognize innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, and the second is an annual technical summit geared at a set of rotating topics.
In a broader sense, he believes that the mining industry as a whole needs to work together on innovation.
“One of our biggest concerns in mining is that sometimes we tend to do things in silos,” Canepari said. “I believe that if we really want to embrace innovation we have to collaborate. I know sometimes it’s hard to do — to collaborate with people you’re competing with. But I believe as industry we need to stand together and embrace collaboration and innovation.”
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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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