When PanGeo Subsea spun Acoustic Zoom out into its own entity in 2012, the fledgling company’s focus was still largely in the oil and gas sector.
Six years later, the Paradise-based geophysics company specializes in the seismic mapping of geological formations and reservoirs, and it looks more and more like the best and most profitable commercial application for its technology is in the mining sector.
Last week, the firm formalized a US$1-million equity investment agreement with Vancouver-based Goldcorp, one of the world’s leading gold producers.
“They’re an international company and they really want to support technology in mining,” explains Gary Dinn, Acoustic Zoom’s vice-president of marketing.
“They understand that future mining is largely associated with new approaches, new technology, better efficiency and more environmentally friendly approaches.”
The agreement stems from Acoustic Zoom’s win in an innovation accelerator competition called #DisruptMining that was part of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto in March.
There, the company pitched a refined version of its ultra high-frequency 3-D drill hole seismic imaging that it presented at the same competition in 2017, but came up short because it was too costly, at around $2 million.
“With the new bore hole project we came back with in 2018, you’re probably talking a few hundred thousand dollars to do it, so we brought the cost down by almost a factor of 10,” Dinn said.
“The other thing it did was it allows the result that we get to be compared with the assay result from the drill, so you’re not just interpreting the geology based on the seismic data, you’re able to take it one step further and compare it with the drill results.”
That has great appeal to the mining industry, because it helps mitigate investment risk by providing greater certainty on the geological composition of a given site, thereby extending the investment already made in the drilling program.
Conventional seismic surveys work well for the oil and gas industry because they provide accuracy about the layers where resources are trapped. Acoustic Zoom’s tech is all about the details.
“It turns out that the details don’t mean as much to the oil and gas guys, but they are exactly what the mining guys want because those small features are usually associated with mineral deposits,” Dinn says.
As part of the agreement, more than $150,000 is being used to fund a pilot program at Goldcorp’s Red Lake Gold Mines in northern Ontario, where Acoustic Zoom will help narrow down new areas of the mine to explore, while also refining the technology further.
Dinn says one of the most significant benefits of the #DisruptMining is the global visibility it has created for Acoustic Zoom. The company has already entered into discussions for work elsewhere in Canada, and in Argentina, Australia and the United States.
“We’re getting coverage around the world because of that, and that’s been very helpful from the marketing point of view. You hardly need to tell them who you are because they already know.”