Mining innovation a hard sell – by Paul Attfield (Globe and Mail – February 20, 2018)

Change can be a hard sell in the mining sector. Just ask Fred Davidson. “Nothing is dramatic, it’s all incremental,” says the chief executive of Energold Group Corp., a 35-year veteran of the industry who has worked in 18 countries.

Case in point is Energold’s mobile drilling rig, which allows miners to reach inaccessible sites using small helicopters, pickup trucks or even mules to get the equipment on site.

The technology lessens the environmental impact compared with more traditional prospecting methods that require building a road to the drill site, or dragging big rigs across the terrain. Reducing the collateral damage of exploratory drilling can have its advantages, Mr. Davidson says, given that it can take 10,000 prospects to build one mine.

Mr. Davidson says the industry didn’t initially warm to his innovation, even though Energold has grown from six drilling rigs in 2006 to 270 in 24 countries. The mobile rigs now drill down 1,000 metres and are fairly simple, so that a percentage of locals can be hired to operate them.

“It’s taken us eight years to get it accepted by the industry that these things are highly effective, because the average geologist looks at them and they look like a bit of a biplane compared to a jet plane,” he says.

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