The Canadian Press – TORONTO — Programmable bacteria, a gold-sniffing camera and a virtual reality tool for taking investors underground were among the innovations on display at the world’s biggest annual mining convention in Toronto this week.
Their makers say these and other technologies have the potential to reshape the mining industry at every stage — from financing and exploration to extraction and cleaning up sites once the metal is gone.
Some veterans of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention say such innovation is badly needed in an industry traditionally resistant to change.“There’s a lot of inertia in our business,” said George Salamis, chairman of Vancouver-based Integra Gold Corp. (TSXV:ICG).
“There’s this mindset that, ’We’ve been doing this for 100 years, why would we change?’ With new blood coming in, that is changing. But change is slow.”
The mining industry has been on the mend as commodity prices recover from a protracted slump. The downturn made many executives more focused on pruning budgets than investing in technology that might increase efficiency.
But even a small implementation of such products can have a huge effect on margins and operating costs, Salamis noted. “Mining is certainly ripe for that,” he said.
Encouraging innovation was Integra’s chief aim when it partnered with Goldcorp Inc. to create Disrupt Mining, a Shark Tank-style competition held during the opening day of the convention last Sunday.
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