Twenty growth companies in the mining software, automation, AI, sensor and survey technology fields have raised more than US$210 million of equity funding in the past two years as they enter what could be, for some, a period of exponential expansion. Key drivers are the mining market’s appetite for technology-driven efficiency and productivity gains, and cost savings; unique technology; winning recruitment and business development strategies; and acquisitions.
Growth leaders such as Imdex and Constellation/Vela Software have been standouts among larger, established mining tech companies. The former came from a drilling consumables background but in the past decade has built a circa-A$200 million-a-year tech business centred on “orebody knowledge” that is now its dominant activity.
Geologist and Imdex executive, Michelle Carey, says: “We [miners] generally rely on very low spatial density of data. We generally rely on only collecting a few parameters rather than a lot. And we quite often, even if we’re collecting that data, we’re not doing it in a way that can be executed on in a timely manner. So we might have collected some data but we’ve already blown the bench up before the data has been given to anyone to do anything with. So of course, that creates huge amounts of uncertainty all the way through the rest of the process. And it means pretty much that you can’t optimise the rest of the mine because you didn’t know what it was you were mining in the first place. What we look to do is to shift that. And it’s very much a tech play. It’s an IoT-type play where you collect your sensor data, you push it into a cloud environment, and then you do data analytics so you can give answers to the blasting engineers, or whoever down the chain needs it, right away.”
Constellation has aggregated a bunch of quality legacy mining software entities and products, led by the erstwhile Datamine business. CEO Dylan Webb says: “Becoming part of Constellation in 2015 was a pivotal moment in the history of Datamine. Unlike private equity, Constellation holds its businesses forever, which allows us to take a long-term view on future investments in new products and complementary acquisitions. Being a pure software company, the expertise we can draw upon in the broader group has supercharged our R&D capacity and capability. You can get a sense of the growth by employee numbers which have grown from 135 to over 700 in the past five years through a mixture of organic and acquired growth. We expect to continue solid double-digit growth and to see the staff numbers moving beyond 1000 in the next couple of years.”
Our 20 mining digital rising stars, including Imdex and Constellation, hail from the USA, Canada, Chile, Australia, Germany and England.
This is an excerpt from InvestMETS Mining 4.0 Volume 1. To order a copy, contact email@example.com