Novamera is a funded start-up that is developing an innovative technology and process to recover gold, copper or other ore from steeply dipping, narrow vein deposits that are considered uneconomic when applying traditional extraction methods. It is called Sustainable Mining by Drilling (“SMD”) and there is a global opportunity for this innovation, which has the potential to not only mine minerals more safely at a significantly lower cost than conventional selective mining methods, but with substantially lower energy, water consumption and environmental footprint. Not only is it possible to develop mineral deposits that may not be economic today, but SMD could also extend existing mines beyond their current engineering limits, leveraging existing infrastructure.
Novamera was a finalist in the 2019 Disrupt Mining Competition sponsored by Goldcorp (now, Newmont Goldcorp). Visit the company website to see the competition video and other information for more background on Novamera and the SMD technology.
Novamera, with the help of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s (“MUN”), is developing SMD, a viable solution to address mining steeply dipping narrow vein deposits by augmenting existing directional drilling equipment and ground penetrating radar technology with innovative improvements geared toward the mining environment.
The unique drilling system combines high resolution subsurface imaging and directional drilling in a two-pass process that identifies the physical shape of the ore vein and is highly flexible to changes in vein geometry. The initial pass uses a diamond drill to create a pilot hole that is guided by the near borehole imaging tool (“NBIT”). The NBIT tool performs downhole surveys at regular intervals to measure hole trajectory and distance from the hanging wall and foot wall. The second pass utilizes large diameter (0.5m to 3.0m) hole opening equipment that follows the pilot hole and excavates the vein out to its full thickness. The cuttings are transported to surface using low energy reverse circulation air lift assist methods.
The SMD technology has been in field tested and received patent pending status and is currently at various development stages during 2021 to 2022. SMD will truly be a revolutionary technology and mining method that will change the economics of mining and improve safety while doing it in an environmentally friendly manner.