May 17, 2020

Virtual reality opens the door to the future

Vancouver mining
Integra Gold
Virtual reality in mining
Dale Benton
2 min
SGS Geostat used virtual reality software to analyse 75 years worth of data
In an economy of implementing cost effective and efficiency measures, mining companies in Vancouver are investing more money in new technologies to full...

In an economy of implementing cost effective and efficiency measures, mining companies in Vancouver are investing more money in new technologies to fully realise the potential within their assets.

Integra Gold, a Canadian gold mining company, operates predominately on its Lamaque South project in Val-d”Or, Quebec – one of Canada’s premier gold producing sites.

The company also owns the assets to two defunct sites nearby - as well as 75 years’ worth of mining and exploration data.

With their sights firmly set on their current site, Steve Jong, Integra Gold’s CEO, admits that time – and money – is of the essence. “We don’t have time to go start digging through six terabytes of historical data to try and unlock the value and see if there are targets there,” he said.

In a bid to process this data and determine where best to install drilling programs, Integra held a crowdsourcing contest.

All of the asset data was made public, with Integra calling on geologists and software engineers worldwide to pitch how they can use new technologies to quickly, and effectively, break down this data and develop an exploration plan on the sites.

Following over 1000 submissions and a pitch between five shortlisted finalists, Canada based SGS Geostat were crowned winners, scooping a $500,000 prize for their efforts.

The team, global experts in body modelling and reserve evaluation, won after they had used Oculus Rift, virtual reality technology, to sift through the masses of data.

SGS Geostat team captain, Guy Desharnais, said:  "As a team of geologists, engineers, and computer scientists often bound by certain limitations and boundaries, we relished in the opportunity to channel our collective creativity and curiosity to provide new exploration targets in a historic and famous mining jurisdiction known worldwide,"

“This innovation exercise has been extremely accretive. We have to break this idea that innovation is just going to be a direct expense that might pay for itself years down the road,” added Steve de Jong, Integra Gold’s CEO.

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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