Canadian Manufacturing

Digital Technology Supercluster announces launch of Earth X-Ray Discovery Platform

The Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining project will enable mining exploration companies to identify density and magnetic anomalies with greater resolution.

November 25, 2021  by CM Staff

VANCOUVER — Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster is announces the launch of the Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining project. This project will deliver a new Discovery Platform that hopes to help mining exploration companies to precision-target deposits beneath the Earth’s surface in a way that changes the economics of discovery and increases the sustainable production of critical mineral resources needed to fuel the clean energy transition.

Led by muon tomography pioneer Ideon Technologies and in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU), Dias Geophysical, Microsoft, Fireweed Zinc, and Mitacs, the Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining project will enable mining exploration companies to identify density and magnetic anomalies with greater resolution and certainty up to 1 kilometre beneath the Earth’s surface, much like X-rays and MRIs give us visibility inside the human body.

“As the world moves towards a low-carbon economy, global demand for critical minerals is increasing. Through this innovative project, the Digital Technology Supercluster is supporting the development of a first-of-its-kind, environmentally responsible mining technology that will position Canada as a world leader in responsible mining,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

To power the global transition to electrification, wind, solar, nuclear, and other clean-energy technologies, production of many critical minerals and metals needs to increase by nearly 500% over the next 20 to 30 years. With most near-surface deposits already discovered, the mining industry is forced to search deeper underground in more difficult to reach locations. Traditional exploration methods involve extensive and environmentally invasive drilling, which often yields no results at a sizeable cost.

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The Discovery Platform will feature hardware and software, novel data inversion and integration techniques, advanced AI algorithms, and geostatistical methods to construct detailed 3D profiles of subsurface anomalies — such as mineral and metal deposits, air voids, caves, and other structures.

“This project will generate new technologies and breakthrough approaches to help solve one of the oldest problems on Earth,” said Gary Agnew, Ideon CEO and Co-Founder. “As co-innovators, we will deliver a solution to the global mining industry that will directly reduce the cost, time, risk, and environmental impact of finding new mineral and metal deposits, while dramatically increasing certainty and discovery rates in a sector that has been historically characterized by uncertainty.”

The Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining project has a total investment of C$13,503,225 with C$7,923,711 invested by industry and C$5,579,514 co-invested through the Supercluster’s Digital Twins program. Mitacs, a national research organization that operates research and training programs in industrial and social innovation, is adding C$345,000 in net funding to support a team of post-doctoral researchers at SFU.

“The Digital Supercluster is proud to be working with such an amazing group of Canadian companies that are demonstrating a true commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Supercluster CEO Sue Paish. “We are happy to provide the digital innovation ecosystem that has brought together Ideon, SFU, Dias Geophysical, Microsoft, Fireweed Zinc, BHP, and Mitacs, making it possible for Canada to advance world-leading research and accelerate transformation of the mining industry.”