Funding for innovation highlights responsible mining summit

Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, opened the first day of the B.C. Responsible Minerals and Metals Virtual Summit by highlighting the role that innovation will play in the future of responsible mining.

While speaking online to representatives from industry, Indigenous Nations, environmental organizations, the investment community and government, Ralston announced C$2 million in funding for MineSense Technologies through the province’s Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) fund.

“MineSense’s work is a great example of the type of made-in-B.C. innovation that supports our goal of responsible raw-material extraction,” Ralston said. “The future of mining in this province will require greater collaboration between B.C.’s tech and mining sectors, so that cutting-edge technology like this can help advance responsible mining.”

B.C.-based MineSense is a pioneer in digital mining solutions, providing real-time, sensor-based ore sorting for large-scale mines

The ICE funding will help the Vancouver-based company promote and sell its scalable digital-sensing platform. The platform gives mine equipment operators a real-time estimate of the ore grade at the point of extraction and enables mines to optimize metal recovery. The predictive on-bucket technology is being demonstrated on wire-rope shovels at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper Mine.

Ralston also spoke about the Mining Innovation Roadmap, one of the recommendations stemming from the Mining Jobs Task Force. The roadmap will be a forward-looking, coordinated plan to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities presented by the transformation of B.C.’s mining sector, which is being driven by digitization, automation and workforce transformation. It will be released in the coming weeks.

The three-day summit, hosted by the province, is another recommendation of the task force. It will focus on the opportunity B.C. has to play an important role in the global movement to responsible sourcing of raw materials and the transition to a low-carbon economy. It also addresses the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance in the future of mining.

The summit will continue with sessions on Sept. 15 and Sept. 30. The discussions that take place are expected to help to create an action plan for a responsible minerals and metals market strategy in B.C.

“The ICE Fund has been instrumental to supporting our work to bring new, sustainable technology to the mining industry here in B.C. The culmination of this funding is our technology now fully operating at two mines, to both increase their profitability and reduce their environmental footprint,” Jeff More, president and CEO of MineSense Technologies, said in the release.

B.C.-based MineSense is a pioneer in digital mining solutions, providing real-time, sensor-based ore sorting for large-scale mines. The company received additional funding from partners that include Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).  This project is one of many funded jointly by the ICE fund and SDTC that is part of B.C. and Canada’s three-year, C$40-million Joint Call partnership. The partnership was launched in March 2017 to support the development of pre-commercial clean energy projects and technologies.

The Mining Jobs Task Force was launched in 2018 to find ways to strengthen B.C.’s mining industry and the communities that benefit from mineral exploration and mining. The task force is built from a diverse membership, and includes First Nations, industry, an environmental non-governmental organization, labour, the financial sector and municipal government, among others.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)