The fully subscribed round was led by San Francisco-based Prelude Ventures and joined by Export Development Canada (EDC), Cycle Capital Management, and initial investor Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital. MineSense stated that this marks a significant funding round for a mining technology company and comes on the heels of customer-funded field trials with one of the world's largest mining companies.
MineSense is working to commercialise its customer-validated, sensor-based ore sorting systems which are designed to increase resource extraction and metal recovery while reducing costs and environmental impact.
Tim Woodward, managing director of Prelude Ventures, said: “With fewer and lower grade deposits available and declining metal prices, the global mining industry is desperately seeking efficiencies to offset escalating costs and resulting margin squeeze. The right technical innovations can drive operational efficiency.
“MineSense specifically targets one of the largest operating expenses for a mine - the cost of energy to crush waste rock - and can significantly optimise a mine's current ore extraction and metal recovery processes, while greatly reducing its energy footprint with a system payback in the order of months.”
MineSense has developed a fast, scalable, and robust mineral sensing platform that integrates with shovel and belt-based material handling equipment to provide precise, accurate, real-time grade control and ore routing decisions at the point of extraction for maximum resource conversion and metal recovery. With its excellent sensitivity, range, and speed and based on early pilot test results, the MineSense solution is estimated to increase the accuracy of ore/waste classification by over 50%, providing up to 20% margin enhancement through reduced energy, water, and chemical usage.
First products include ShovelSense, which retrofits onto existing shovels providing a novel configuration for bulk ore classification and sorting for surface applications, and SortOre, a semi-bulk sorting solution providing a second stage of ore recovery or waste rejection at even finer resolution where required.
Ian Pearce, chairman of MineSense, partner at X2 Resources, past chair of the Mining Association of Canada and former CEO of Xstrata Nickel, commented: “MineSense's bulk sorting solutions ensure the transport of only high value ore to downstream processes, improving extraction and recovery while reducing overall costs to the operation. It's about addressing quality issues upstream of these more cost-intensive processes, the impact of which reduces energy and water requirements, an aspect that is becoming ever more important to mining companies and communities at large.”
With over six billion tonnes of rock moved annually and mining companies spending over US$100 billion on capital expenditures and over US$150 billion on energy, MineSense's pre-concentration solution specifically addresses resource-intensive mining and milling operations ensuring the right material gets to the right destination.
New investor Annie Theriault of Export Development Canada said: “We are proud to have secured an investment in a Canadian technology company with the potential to optimise mining operations and realise tremendous energy savings at the industry level. Mining is crucial to the Canadian economy and MineSense has developed a technology that has the potential to bring fundamental change to a sector in need of innovation.”
Andrée-Lise Méthot, founder and managing partner at Cycle Capital, added: “MineSense's technology makes it possible to generate profits from what is actually considered 'waste' in the mining industry. With a more efficient sorting solution, mining companies realise energy savings, maximise metal recovery, and reduce the impact of ore extraction on the environment while increasing their margins - a major driver in this industry. For all those reasons Cycle Capital is proud to be a new partner.”
Andrew Bamber, CEO and founder of MineSense, said: “Since our Series A funding in spring 2013, we have made significant progress against pre-set milestones including critical product development and market de-risking. For example, we advanced and deployed our ShovelSense and SortOre products into customer-funded field trials in Canada and South America, and we were able to verify our cost and revenue-related claims in the process.
“This outside validation combined with our ability to harness the 'Industrial Internet' and 'Big Data' technologies has attracted a Series B syndicate of strategic investors we look forward to working alongside as we move towards product commercialisation in 2016. In the nearer term, we're looking to expand customer field trials beyond this first essential partnership.”