"We are bringing a new enabling technology to the market, which includes guidance systems using downhole sensing tools to take conventional drills and convert them into industrial surgical devices."

Dustin Angelo


July 19, 2021

Why did you decide to develop new drilling technology while you were CEO of Anaconda Mining?

At Anaconda Mining’s low grade, open-pit mine in Newfoundland there was a steeply dipping, narrow vein deposit called Romeo and Juliet that was approximately 1 km away from the mine and the mill. Based on the historical information and some small bulk samples, it was as much as five to 10 times the grade we had at the open pit operation. We looked at it using conventional mining methods and could not make it work on paper to economically mine this deposit.

Around 2017, my business partner Allan Cramm, who is the co-founder of Novamera and at that time was the general manger at the mine site in Newfoundland for Anaconda, was standing in the open pit and saw the drill holes from the drilling and blasting activities gently curving down the side of the walls. This is when he had the idea that maybe we could use drilling and drilling equipment to be able to mine Romeo and Juliet. We decided to engage Memorial University as they have a drilling technology lab, and started working with them to figure out a solution to mine Romeo and Juliet using drilling.

How did this lead to the creation of Novamera?

In the beginning, we were just trying to solve our own problem, but when we presented our technology as a finalist at Goldcorp’s Disrupt Mining challenge in early 2019, we were alerted to the fact that many mines were struggling with the same dilemma. After the presentation, many mining houses approached us saying how our technology could be applicable at their mine sites. This is when we decided to make the pivot and develop a solution for the global mining industry. We set up a subsidiary, Novamera Inc., to raise outside capital to further develop the technology, as Anaconda wanted to stay solely focused on being a junior gold producer. In April 2020 we closed a CAD$2 million financing with Chrysalix Venture Capital, making them our largest shareholder.

Novamera was put on a new trajectory to create technology for unlocking mineral resources that are trapped in the ground and cannot be mined using conventional mining methods. Our technology provides a fantastic pathway for companies to start a project which previously was not economically feasible, or to add existing mineral resources outside of their mine plan to their operations.

What is SMD (Sustainable Mining by Drilling), and how does it differ from traditional solutions?

We are bringing a new enabling technology to the market, which includes guidance systems using downhole sensing tools to take conventional drills and convert them into industrial surgical devices. With this technology, Novamera is going to provide a turnkey solution to mining companies to be able to surgically mine steeply dipping, narrow vein deposits more sustainably, economically and safely compared to conventional mining methods. SMD (Sustainable Mining by Drilling) is a multi-stage process with four main stages. First, we drill a pilot hole down the dip of the vein, guiding it with our imaging tool. Next, we go in with a large diameter drill, a pile top drill rig, which follows the pilot hole, excavates the ore and brings the material to surface using reverse circulation airlift assist, a low energy method of cuttings transport. Once the material is at surface, the third stage is to dewater and separate your ore product.

After the ore is processed, the fourth stage is where we combine the tailings with cement and put the product into the hole created by the drilling. Essentially, the hole becomes a landform tailings facility. Approximately 50% to 60% of the material that we take out will go back down. This reduces the reliance on constructed tailings facilities, which also reduces risk.

We will be an integrated services provider that delivers the turn-key surgical mining solution to the miner. We will handle project coordination, engineering and design and provide the imaging tool in a Hardware as a Service model. And, we’ve lined up partners and key suppliers for the other activities like drilling, material separation and backfilling.

Can you elaborate on Novamera’s ‘Safe, Economic and Green’ philosophy, and the increasing importance of ESG to mining companies and investors?

Environmental, social and governance issues are hot topics that are receiving more and more attention in the mining space. I believe that Novamera’s enabling technology is coming at the right time. Because of the surgical nature of the method, SMD reduces or mitigates a number of mining-related environmental and social challenges while doing it in a cost effective and value added manner. Our solution has a smaller footprint, generates less emissions, consumes less energy and recycles water. I believe local communities and governments will look more favorably on SMD as a mining method because of its lower impact on the environment and it does not use blasting.  ESG matters are becoming increasingly important to not only environmentalists, communities and governments, but also now to the money managers. For the mining industry to continue to attract the level of investment it needs at a reasonable cost of capital, ESG has to be a priority, and its importance will keep increasing in the years to come.


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