Stevie Winner Uses an Earth X-Ray for Low Impact Mining

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 07, 2022 @ 07:45 AM

Ideon Technologies Inc. is a spin-off from TRIUMF (Canada’s national particle accelerator laboratory) and a world pioneer in the application of cosmic-ray muon tomography. Ideon has developed a discovery platform that integrates proprietary detectors, imaging systems, inversion technologies, and artificial intelligence to provide x-ray-like visibility up to 1 km beneath the Earth’s surface. 

By detecting sub-surface muons and transforming the data into reliable geophysical surveys and 3D density maps, Ideon helps exploration geologists identify new mineral and metal deposits with precision and confidence. They drill less and discover more with Ideon – reducing cost and risk, saving time, and minimizing environmental impact while meeting the increased demand for critical minerals that power the clean energy transition. Ideon is also expanding the application of muon tomography to use cases in oil and gas, critical infrastructure, and national security. 

ideon photo 2

Ideon has spent years in research and development and conducting field trials with customers to prove the science behind muon tomography for subsurface exploration. What they have done since the beginning of 2019 is complete a 50x miniaturization of the hardware they use to detect muon flux -- from the size of a kitchen table to a slim rod that is deployable down industry-standard drill holes. 

This sensor offers unprecedented straight-line imaging capability with high-resolution (5 m) and a new form-factor enabling deployment down industry-standard boreholes (<10 cm diameter) with low power (<10 W continuous power consumption).  They combine this new data source with our proprietary multi-physics inversions and data analysis algorithms to bring diverse datasets together into a cohesive understanding of the subsurface, up to 1 km deep. For our customers, this results in reduced costs of exploration (10x), reduced environmental impact in the exploration phase (x10), increased ability to meet ESG targets, increased certainty and confidence of subsurface understanding (95%+), and increased instances of resource discovery critical to the clean energy transition.

The world's first deployment of this new borehole muon detector was slated for early May 2021. Muon tomography is the only straight-line imaging technology available in the geophysics toolkit today, delivering high resolution and precise location information. 

ideon photoThe COVID-19 pandemic reduced worldwide CO2 emissions by approximately 4%. Even with a massive shift in human behavior, this falls short of the 7.6% annual reduction that the UN says is needed every year for the next decade to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. A dramatic increase in demand for critical minerals is required to meet the world’s carbon reduction commitments. 

The drive to clean energy highlights how broken the mineral exploration process is. In the last 10 years, the industry has been forced to search deeper underground to find new deposits, without any new tools to facilitate exploration. Discoveries are down 75%, meters drilled/discovery is up 187%, and cost/discovery is up 380%. 

They are competing against the status quo -- the industry relies heavily on drilling, often hundreds of holes sunk in a hit-and-miss approach targeting poorly constrained geophysical and geological anomalies. Drilling is the primary cost driver in exploration today, representing 55% (US$6B) of the annual global spend, with drilling volume currently ~40M meters per year. A shift in approach is required to disrupt drilling and realize substantial increases in the sustainable production of critical mineral resources.

Ideon’s unique integrated subsurface intelligence solution for the global mining industry directly reduces the cost, time, risk, and environmental impact involved in the exploration process, while dramatically increasing outcome certainty. Enabling mineral resource companies to confidently extract key insights from vast quantities of data will help them target high-recovery, low-waste deposits, developing the supply chains needed to fuel the energy transition.

Ideon won the Silver Stevie Award for Energy Innovation of the Year in The 2021 International Business Awards

Request Your Entry Kit

Topics: International business awards