Ideas at Work: Innovation and Technology in Mining | #BCTECH Summit 2018
Great. Is. This on can you think, it's on hi, everybody how. Are you doing. This. Is fun so here it is 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, afternoon thanks, for being inside with us today, we're. Gonna hear to talk a little bit about mining. And technology specifically. What tech is doing. A real leader in the space you, know this, is a really exciting place for us to be as, a mining industry here at the BC tech summit it's very, exciting. This, province and what it has the, capabilities, to do right now the fact that we're such, a mining, hub already, and have, been for so long and as you're, all here we're increasingly, becoming, this incredible, technology. Hub and there's. Just. Immense opportunities. Between, our industries, to innovate, together and it's already, happening and that's the real power of having Victoria, here today, to talk to you about what a real leader in this industry is, doing and tech resources and really. Talk about like the nitty-gritty of what it means to innovate, as a mining, company we're we're an industry that's always been innovating, it technology's, always been at the forefront for an, industry like mining but there's, there's opportunities, that are very, interesting, right now and so it's really great Victoria, to be able to be here to chat with you a little bit about it and I guess, the, first question I'd ask is you know what, what are the opportunities between, the mining industry and technology, I think a lot of people think that there may be some but perhaps you can talk a little, bit about what you think those are and what Tech's doing though yeah. I think there are tons and it's it's two ways somebody. Commented, to me yesterday that it's so funny to see tech at this conference and he had to check himself of what conference, in my at this, is a resource company at a technology conference and this, is our first time but the, link is more intuitive than I think we. Often talk about so one mining. Products are critical to technology, right so as. Was. Mentioned Tech is a diversified, company would produce zinc. Copper. Metallurgical. Coal and we have an interest in an oil property, and everyone, knows copper, is required, for. Electricity. But it's also in all of our smart phones and electric cars, zinc. And metallurgical, coal are critical, for steel which is in, all the construction. But also fertilizer, and as we look to more, progressive agriculture. That's critical so there's, a push from mining into technology, but there's a huge pull and, I. Was, part of the mentorship thing at lunch and one of the high school students asked me if we still use Canaries, and coal mines and what has changed and things, have changed dramatically, and we haven't been great about talking, about that but, technology is critical to mining in so many aspects, and the. People that are at our operations. Are always thinking about how to do their jobs better. Safer, faster cheaper. Because. This is what they do every day and they love to think about innovation and, continuous. Improvement so I think there's a strong link there that we need to talk about more I. Guess. It's fair to say that tax, always been a technology, company it's and. Is, that a fair thing to say yes, and I have some favorite stories that I love to tell I, don't know how much people know about tech but it's been around. For a hundred plus years we. Created the first zinc. Electrolyte. Electrolytic. Refinery, in trail in 1902, so this we have a long history of innovation. One, of a tech employee created, the walkie talkie for mineral exploration communications. To, call in the helicopter presumably. So they wouldn't have to sleep out at night so. We've always been doing this and I think of it as part of tech and Cominco. One of the old companies it's, in our DNA and, it's in how people approach work. So. Maybe maybe you could talk a little bit about what why you're focused on technology, and you know what what you hope to achieve out of it because you know obviously it sounds great that a company like yours is innovating, but there's, a reason, to it and there's a purpose for it so perhaps you could you could talk a little bit about why, you do it yeah, again. I think why we do it as partially we can't help ourselves it is in our DNA and what we do insights are always, changing. And improving the way that they do things but we, do look at it from three key, drivers, so one is productivity, and safety and I lump. Those together because I think that they're necessarily connected. And not at loggerheads with one another and. A great example of this is our. Cool Mountain operation, in the out valley it's, scheduled. To be shut down this year but last year the employees despite No that they'd be moving on they, didn't just give up and ride it out they looked at a, remote, dozing technology so could they bring in a remote dozer to enable, production under.
An Unstable, headwalls so there's still cold down there you can't send people in because that could fail even though we have sensors. Scanning, it and predicting. When things might calm down so. They engaged with an OEM did, a bunch of work came. Back and realized that's, not good enough, we need a remote dozer and a remote backhoe and that doesn't exist from this company but, there's this cool company called remote control technologies, out of Sudbury that, can remote control whatever a piece of equipment you want so they're now partnering with them I think, the, equipment went on the last couple weeks their training and that will be operational so. That's a great story of, production, productivity. And safety, another. Reason is growth. Mining. Companies are always focused on how. To replace resources, right because if you're not growing then you're shrinking and your investors don't like that from. A. Growth, perspective one, of the cool things that we've done that's downstairs hopefully, every one side was. Using. VR. For. Projects. So for community engagement, we've. Partnered with a cool company called lamb asou out of Victoria to create a Viera model of argyll or Creek project up in BC and aesthetically. It's beautiful because it's in this amazing, part of the world but, it's also serve, this really cool purpose, of it now enabling. Us to engage with our tall tan First Nations to. Show them our plans for the project, overlaid. On the, land that they know so well so that we can have a conversation about, that and that conversation isn't limited to like. Really time specific, helicopter. Flights out there we can do it all year round and check in and look at the same thing and. That's just so valuable. The. Power to that says it's a story I tell a lot as a calamity. Partnership, attacking and how it's broadening, out to other, parts, of the industry but also other sectors, the work they're doing and I I just think of that exact thing that ability to connect with communities, is is, really such an amazing, opportunity for us with technology, as an industry because. Really. That as early as we can make those connections with communities, about what we do indigenous, communities and the, broader community it's so powerful so that why Mizzou work that you really, amazing yeah and we've, started with communities, but it will extend to potential, project, partners and investors and, regulatory, different. Regulatory bodies, and yeah. It's only the beginning that's. Really, cool I think, there was a video, you wanted to show, with this oh yeah well I guess, the third way that we look at things is from the lens of sustainability, anyone that's familiar with tech knows that that's core. To what we do is. Being. Responsible, in terms of our environmental, footprint and our engagement with communities a really. Cool story on the sustainability, side is the work that we've done with mine sense they have. XRF. Sensors that you mount on the shovel so that when these big shovels, are scooping up material, it's, scanning, and reading those rocks and can help us determine, whether it's or our waste because we know that at a coarse scale but we don't know it at the bucket scale and the, risk there is if we send waste material, to the mill we're, wasting, energy and water processing, that but if we're if we can make better decisions then, we can be better stewards of those resources and I, do have a cool video to, show about that. So. Just, as a final point the large. Rotating things at the end are. Our. Mills and often, those are presented, as a way in which the mining industry has an innovative, could they've, looked the same for the last hundred years and that's, something that we will have. To work on in the next 10, to 20 years but, in the meantime if we can make sure that we're very efficient, about what we put through those then we're still doing the best that we can with the existing technologies, that's. Great I mean what a powerful short video that is I mean for, those of you that are, involved in the industry or understand it all that's that's amazing work right there to to. Determine, what's in the shovel I mean that from an efficiency point of view is, unbelievable. And it is so helpful both both on the cost side but also on the environmental, side so really amazing. Stuff I think it kind of leads. To my next question around you know implementing. Those technologies, because. You you. As tech are those real real industry leaders and you're really developing. A lot of these technologies in-house, and testing, them you know what. Are some of the challenges, to getting, these you, know from from, sort of a bench to out, on the mine site and and what are some of the opportunities and one of the some of the successes, you've seen doing that yeah.
There's, A lot of trial and error and we're still figuring out the most efficient. And effective process. For doing that but. I guess we've started to see it in three ways there's technology, people in process, and the technology, is one thing so we try and scan, through conferences. Like this or mining specific, ones or. Technology. Conferences, for entirely different industries. And. That second on process, is understanding, our business and often understanding, the technology enough, to know that. As. Is and to be States and how to map those out right because change management is so key and getting, to that to be state is how we get value so, really. Understanding that but, the third and most important, bit is the. People so we're really trying, to build or foster, a culture of innovation so that people feel empowered, to implement, technologies, or come come. To a group like mine, or to their GM, to implement, these technologies. Tech's. Very site based group, has I think I've said before that we, want the people at the front lines that, their problems, and see them on a daily. Basis to be the ones that can make a change because they know exactly how to make these changes, successful. And it brings dedication, and perseverance, I. Guess, it's a back little. Bit of background I work in a corporate technology, and innovation group and a large part of what we do is try and communicate between, sites and say hey these guys put, in a really cool remote dozer do, you think there's an application over, here. So. That's a lot of how we're working right now great. That's very cool I think you had another video, you wanted to show there was oh yeah good reminder to them the, story behind this one. Last. Movement technologies, came up with a really cool simple, hugely. Valuable technology. Where you have an RFID tag, in, a really strong heart ball we can drop them down a blast hole blow. Up the bench and see where these balls end up so we can see how material, moved and that seems intuitive, but before having, this technology we just had to assume that nothing moved or, that it moved a consistent, distance but. When you're blowing up rock that of course is not the case and so one. Of our young. Engineers up. In our Alaskan, mine saw, this technology, decided to implement it figured. Out that it in one blast that he recorded, there was 700, thousand dollars of value there and so, I took the story to our Highland Valley mine in a couple slides tried to describe to them the technology and what had happened at Red Dog and they said yep hook us up let's do this and now, it's happening at 3 minds and that's it's, a great story of sight LED innovation. And tying innovations. Between sites and also how we can partner with a small company and support. Them and expanding, their business so, yeah if you could bring out the second slide. Very. Cool jeez, you. Know you look, at being. Here at the BC tech summit and all of the different, companies that that are here all different technologies, I'm.
Interested In you know what you see as the next. Great, opportunity. For innovation, and technology, for tech and maybe for the industry more broadly. Yeah. Broadly, I think it's. Incorporating. All of the industry. 4.0, tech so whether it's putting, more sensors on our equipment in our Mills so that we actually understand, what's happening all, the way to cloud. Computing and advanced, data analytics and, then putting on actuators, and robotics, on the backend, specifically. I don't. Think that people broadly know how much data is collected in, the mining environment our group says, that it's terabytes, of data coming off our equipment, every day and we, just don't have the people or capabilities, to handle that but, I was, just talking to a guy who's the CEO of a machine. Learning advanced analytics, for deep learning company. And he was saying everyone. Wants to work for Facebook and Google because it seems cool but what they don't realize is that mining has tons of data and really valuable cool, problems, to solve we, have to do a better job of talking about that so. That we can partner with these companies that bring that expertise, because, there's, so much value, in that data that we don't even know about yet and I think that's where we. And other mining companies are starting to look, ya, know that's that's really powerful and it's it's something we're talking about a lot in the industry is you know really, connecting, how our economy works and especially you, know how the mining, industry is working right now when it comes to technology and the fact that that. The mining jobs of today are really. A lot of them are down in gas town right now as we speak and in other parts of the technology, space and this, is happening now and the opportunities, are really boundless, for what we have, moving. Forward and it's really about I think getting out and talking to people more, about what's. Happening on the ground right now and what those offered great opportunities, are that are moving, forward to engage, you know folks, that are maybe in university, now that are thinking you know mining, you know is something that's done at the site and that's, not really something maybe I'm into but without, knowing that they can be completely involved in this industry. From pretty much anywhere in the province and it's really, cool opportunity, I think - yeah and there's so much space for collaboration. We in, the last year started a machine learning project, with Google and a company called Pythian looking, at our machine, health data, to. Identify. Predictively. Identify, failure modes and, what. We've really taken out of this is machine, learning is cool and has applicability to our business and there's value there but moreover it's a large part of it's about speaking the same language so, connecting, these people that know machine, learning all, these data scientists, to our experienced, operators, and getting them in a room so that they can solve these problems, together. Did. You have I think you had something to show us on machine learning to do you. Cool. This. Next questions one that's really close to my heart because you, know representing, the industry I'm always looking at how how, II implement.
These Things across the industry so you, know I'm really interested in your thoughts on you, know how how. Attack it, can work with the broader industry how the broader industry can work together more efficiently. To, implement. Technologies, to develop, these technologies, and, to and to get them out more broadly because I really, see in opportunities, you know as I touched off the start of having. BC really be that incubator for. Technologies. For this industry that we can then export, across. The mining industry globally and really be that hub, of innovation for technology, so I be, interested in you know from a company at, the leading edge of this how how. We ensure that the entire industry has an opportunity to, feed. Into this and how we collaborate and perhaps a little more in. A little more seamless way in order to make move this port yeah, I think it's a good question and I say it as layers, of collaboration, so there's within the mining industry. Five. Years ago. The. Idea of talking to one of our competitors. Slash peers about, what technology, projects that we had was, out. Of this world and, last week I sat in a room with I guess people kind of like me from two of our competitors, peers and just open. The kimono as they said to say here's everything we're working on what about you guys and here are some of our common. And. So that's great at the producer, level where we're all kind, of the same but I think. You had talked. About before like how do you spread that from big companies like tech down through smaller companies that might not have the capital or stability and, I think that's something that we need to wrap our heads around that some, of the smaller companies are agile and a, bit more innovative, but they might not have the. Ability to absorb risk and so how can we look at those partnerships, within. Mining, to support them and say okay well you go first but, we'll figure out some kind of structure in the agreement, so that we can share risk and come in and support you and implement this later and that's at the mining level with tech providers, I think, we have a long supportive. History, of partnering. With tech groups, there's a company called Peck tech that does a lot on. Equipment. Automation, in acquiring, different data sets and we've. Co-developed. And developed. And then sold and then supported, them in developing different, technologies. And that's been a. Ten, plus year partnership. Based. On trust. And knowing that the commercial model for each project might change but, we have a ton of respect and Trust and we understand, each other and we're. We're. Really excited about building those similar relationships, with fine sense and Lam Azul and finger-food and all these really cool tech. Companies too and all, the ones in the future we want them to know that mining. Is a welcoming, space and text specifically, is looking, to partner, at. The next level up it's. Outside. Of just mining and into. Other natural. Resources industries, and I think a really good example of that is cocea. So focused, on oil sands but for. Those that don't know the kane' canada's. Oil, sand in evasion alliance it was a group of oil sands producers that got together and said we, all need to survive the to. Solve these environmental, problems let's just do it together and so. Over. The few, years that that's been. That's. Been working there's, been one point four billion dollars of technology contributed, to which all of the partners have licenses, and that's, something like 900, different technologies. That's. Amazing, and that's from oil, which, previously. It was very protective, Wow. Okay, maybe. You could talk a little bit about the BC digital super cluster and what those opportunities are there cuz I think that's just something, hasn't been talked about enough how there's multiple. Sectors working, on digital, solutions, including. An importantly, mining. Industry and I just think it's a story that's really, really cool yeah and the, super cluster is only the thing that I've thought about the most over the last couple of months and I'm super, excited about, the super cluster I. Think. That brings it to the next level so it's it's, outside of mining and it's outside of natural. Resources it's now Canada wide so how do we all work, together. To. Expand everybody's, business and we'll, be putting forward a proposal with a bunch of tech providers and and.
Another. Producer, and it, really forces, some of those conversations, about IP and, data sharing and what are your problems and oh that's, our problem as well and it it's, building, this trust and this willingness to work together because we all need to get someplace and we're better together than, trying, to do this individually, so I think we'll. All learn a lot through the supercluster over the next couple of years of how to work together, to. Get stuff done rather than being, closed, and protective I think. It's so exciting getting to all the points you've just made I mean this is really the opportunity to D silo, the, conversations. And really talk about you. Know how we how we use the land and how we you know do digital, and how we do all of our different sectors in a way that that is in partnership, it's it's, a story that hasn't even really been told at all yet about what the opportunities, are here and I'm personally, really excited to see what's gonna come of this super cluster moving. Forward so and, I think you touched on a good point that often I think about the super cluster in terms of Canadian, businesses, and how to make them competitive on the global scale, but, it's also Canadian. Stakeholders, how do you get them more involved in every aspect of this and that's the, communities, and First Nations and regulators and different levels of government how, do we all work together. Universities. Yeah, absolutely I mean I'm. A big believer I mean the what we've gotten so positional, in the world right everyone gets into their corners and you know takes. Their ball and goes home sometimes, right and I think there's this these these powerful conversations. Happening now that need, to be talked more about about the partnerships, that are actually really occurring. Out there and and you guys are really at the forefront of it and really, deserve to be commended for the work you're doing in there this is what's gonna move, the Neill forward and get, us. To a point where we can continue to build you know responsible, minds in this province and that's that's. Got to happen folks we need more copper, we need more steelmaking cool because we're, going to electric cars wind turbine and solar panels, so we need this tough and and this is the sort of work that's gonna get us to that point so I think it's really great. We've. Got some time for a couple questions from the, audience if, anyone has, any I would just ask that you wait I think there's microphones that are that, are going around so. Just wait for a microphone I see one there to. Come to you because I know that this is being taped so we want to make sure we're we, get the audio done properly so. You, sir I think I'm it homes. On its way. There. We go. With, all the open, information sharing, and starting, to work more collaboratively how. Does tech, still maintain, a sustainable competitive advantage, because oftentimes, intellectual, property, was, the stable, competitive, Vantage for major. Corporations, yeah. I think, for. Everyone in the super cluster it'll come down to each company really, identifying, what their competitive, advantages, and for tech we. Realize that in part it's the assets that we have and in part it's how we.
How. We operate so technologies. Might be the commodity and therefore. We shouldn't be in the development, space but we can in pilot. And implement, and refine, those technologies, we think better than a lot of our competitors, and so, that's where we want to sit not on the development, but, I did, identifying. A really good technology that matters for our specific problems, because we know them well enough and then, being. Really quick in. Operationalizing. Those technologies. Right, thank you I'd be interested from, both of you about. Where. You see you. Would have, mining, firms both from tech being on the large side and also, from some of the smaller mining, firms. Wet. What is the entry. Size for technology, firms do. You see that you would be working more with. Someone. Who has a, very developed technology. Or how, comfortable, are you with working, with pure, startups. For. Tech, specifically, I don't think it's on the the size of the company so much as the readiness of the technology, and startups, are probably tired of hearing that but we, need something at a stage where. We can test, it at one of our operations, to really see what, the value is and how, well we can implement that we also do, support a lot of research, but that's. Through. A slightly different mechanism, right so research on the Geoscience, side or. Yeah. Some early operational. Stuff but. We are looking for something that we can say yeah let's figure out a plan to test, this either at, the bench scale or in an operation, and then, scale up and I think something like shovel sense is a really good example of that that they had a prototype. On a loader and we said okay let's work together to scale this up to the first commercial demonstration. On a proper, mining shovel and. We're happy to support technologies. In that space that we know will make an impact for us. It's. A really great question from, the industry perspective it's its most important, one because you know you look at a company like tech that's so diversified, across multiple. Jurisdictions across. Multiple commodities. And so and. It's so forward or thinking and and able, to you know implement, sort. Of move some of these technologies down the road versus. Some, other of our operators that maybe have one mind right and they're looking to really have, that business case really solidly. Presented. To be able to access you know shelf-ready. Technology. That can be you know implemented, right away so so. It's a scalability aspect, is really the key because, our operations, are so unique it's. Been I'm speaking, of BC specifically, but for the industry generally so, I think that's that's the next big piece of the conversation, is how do we, how. Do we get these technology. How do we partner and then get these technologies, to the readiness stage where the. Rest of industry can can take, advantage from a scalability point of view and that's that's, where those powerful conversations. That you're having already, with with, other operators, is really, paramount. Yeah. And acknowledging, that there is a gap right that often once you have something that's pilot Abul you've you've, jumped that gap but I think there are some funding mechanisms, to ease the, the research to pilot stage gap and then, it will come down to companies. Collaborating. So maybe one company, can't support. A tech company and getting across that but a few of them can get together and we, have internal examples, of doing that in partnership with. Phelps. Dodge and a company out of Australia, so, there are ways of doing that and it's just identifying, the right people that also have, that shared need and saying. Let's get together to share that risk and share our resources to get it across the line. Cut. Time for one more question I think okay. Hi. I have a question about the shovel since technology. That's. The material that's already come out of the ground and you still have to deal with the, waste. What. About applying, that technology below, the ground before you even dig and. Before you have. To deal with the waste are. You talking to your physics I might. Be, yeah. I think that's, something that a, lot, of other our. Peers have focused on a lot more than we have to this to. This point so I'm, thinking, Rios. And new crafts have put a lot of effort, into understanding their. Or body so that they can know. That in advance before they mine and then you can optimize your mind plan based on that.
Honestly. We haven't focused that much we do a lot on the Geoscience, side and I think we have really strong geologists, that know, the research and know how to explore, and. We've been very supportive, of key geophysical. Technologies, over the last 50. Years but. We are focusing, at this point more on the mining side. Right. Victoria. It's been a real pleasure to speak, with you today and thanks, to all of you for for being here I'll give you the final final, word Victoria on, our session today no that's it thanks, thanks. For your diary one. You.