Novamera looking for new North America test site

Richard Roberts

Editor in chief

Top image :
Novamera co-founders Dustin Angelo (left) and Allan Cramm
Start-up targeting Q4 for $5m trial

Canada’s Novamera is looking for six companies to tip in C$5 million to fund a trial of its “surgical mining” method later this year. The company says a recent OZ Minerals and Vale-backed demonstration underlined benefits of its sensor and software-guided, narrow-vein mining approach.

“Surgical mining technologies have the ability to unlock a whole new value in the industry and solve a lot of really painful issues around adding to production right now,” Theresa Quick, marketing VP of the privately-owned Ontario firm said on a webcast review of trial results from a former gold mine in Newfoundland, Canada.

Quick joined Novamera CEO and co-founder, Dustin Angelo, VP of product engineering, Andrew Caruana, and co-founder Allan Cramm on the call.

She said the trial aimed to show the accuracy and value of real-time guidance of Novamera’s production system, and support the economic case for the alternative production method with field results from work on the Romeo and Juliet satellite gold deposit about 1km from Anaconda’s former Point Rousse operation.

The presentation audience heard modelling of Novamera’s sensor and software-guided extraction sequence – based on NQ-size core holes drilled into the mesothermal shear-vein hosted gold mineralisation – indicated materially more ore-grade material could be retrieved at significantly lower dilution levels using its method, compared with alternatives.

Caruana said Novamera improved drill guidance with its proprietary, 5m-long near-bore imaging tool (NBIT) – deployed via a drill wireline attachment – said to provide up to five-times more imaging data in a 3m radius around drill-pipe sections. This has been tested so far to about 300m depth, according to Novamera.

At Romeo and Juliet, data from NBIT holes drilled into a vein section about 40m deep and estimated to be dipping at 60 degrees was compared with results from cross-cut diamond holes.

“For every imaging hole we drilled four cross-cutting holes,” Caruana said.

“So we drilled 12 cross-cutting holes in total, which intersected the imaging holes.

“We had the core logged by a geologist and then we compared the core log to the NBIT model.

“We set out to demonstrate the accuracy by comparing the core log to the data that came out of our guidance tool. It showed that our guidance tool had an average accuracy of 35cm when compared to the actual core. But really, tying it all back to economics and unplanned dilution – because that is what the guidance tool is there to do; to build a trajectory for your production – what that 35cm means is that you have an unplanned dilution of less than 2%.

“So it is highly accurate when delineating the orebody.

“The second thing that we set out to do is of course demonstrate that not only do we have a highly accurate tool but that it’s reliable in a production setting.”

Caruana said data capture with the NBIT guidance tool was integrated “seamlessly” with standard core drilling retrieval and extension sequences “so we’re not introducing a completely new process”.

He said the enhanced “visibility” provided by NBIT during the live demonstration gave feedback that meant the mapped 40m-deep Romeo and Juliet vein was actually traced down a further 15m or so.

“We all know narrow veins pinch and swell and move all over the place,” Caruana said.

“Mother Nature doesn’t draw straight lines.

“So the ability to make decisions while drilling is a significant advantage that you get with our technology.”

Caruana said a comparison of two single-hole production scenarios – one with the Novamera guidance technology, validated by the cross-cutting drill holes, and the other without, reliant on a standard orebody model – showed the latter enabling 60% ore capture with 69% dilution.

“I would point out here that not only would you only capture 60% of the ore, [but] you don’t know that you’re leaving 40% behind,” he said.

“You don’t know what you’re leaving behind because your orebody model initially did not reflect this.

“Comparing this … to planning production holes using our software, our algorithms and our guidance tool … you would extract 83% [of the ore] … at a 56% dilution.

“Again …  because you have accurate information from our guidance technology [about] the 17% you’re leaving behind, you know where it is [and] if it’s high-grade enough and if the value deems it, you could drill a an additional short hole and capture 100% of the ore.

“When you compare the two side by side, you’re getting 38% more ore extracted and you are significantly reducing your plan dilution, which is massive because it means you’re processing less material.”

Novamera’s “closed-loop” production system has drill cuttings that don’t require primary crushing separated into a transportable solution at surface. Water is recycled and paste fill is prepared for “real-time reclamation” of drilled holes.

Angelo said basic economic modelling had Novamera’s technique generating significant returns on sub-US$30 million upfront capital costs for 160,000-245,000 tonnes per annum production rates at c$140/t AISC. Moreover, he said, ESG benefits were substantial with c95% waste reduction, virtually zero-entry mining, small operating footprints and methodology that leant itself to low-carbon emission production.

Novamera raised about US$4 million of venture capital in mid-2021 and is seeking further equity funding now.

It is after a North American site to conduct its next trial in the December quarter this year.

“Ideally what we’re looking for is a 69-degree dip angle and plus-or-minus 10m of cover,” Quick said.

“Again, we’re looking for roughly 1-3m average vein width [with] sufficient past drilling performed or a geological model created.”

Existing site access and infrastructure is required.

Participants are going to get a more granular look at the technology in action, and the results, plus access to favourable commercial deployment terms if a suitable avenue can be found.

And as many Novamera hats and t-shirts as required, Quick said with a smile.

“We’re looking forward to bringing on some more partners for this next stage, which I think is going to be a very big milestone for us and a big breakthrough for the industry,” Angelo said.


Leave a Reply

Not registered? Register Now

Powered By MemberPress WooCommerce Plus Integration