International Minerals Innovation Institute

DEMOday

DEMOday and Innovation

Innovation is important to Saskatchewan’s minerals industry and the province.  That is why the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) was formed in 2012, and introduced new funds to support research, development and demonstration of innovations that matter to mining in 2017. It is also why IMII, in cooperation with the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA), introduced DEMOday in 2018.

DEMOday invites inventors, start-ups and supply chain companies to apply to pitch their innovative solutions – equipment, technologies, products or processes that solve an industry problem for one or more of IMII’s minerals company members.  DEMOday is about looking:

  • For new insights and inspiration from suppliers in addressing their toughest technology challenges
  • To build connections with the industry’s supply chain in specific areas of interest
  • To advance a technology development, demonstration, or deployment collaboration
  • To meet new innovative talent to explore solutions

 

Companies selected to participate in DEMOday will present their technologies to a panel of experts from IMII’s principal minerals companies’ members – BHP, Cameco, Mosaic and Nutrien.  This opportunity is for those:

  • Interested in building new industry partnerships in response to a technological need
  • Interested in connecting with the IMII and other funders to support technology development, demonstration, and deployment
  • Looking to grow their company through innovation
  • Looking to learn more about the latest challenges faced by Saskatchewan’s minerals industry

 

This opens the door to having their innovations considered for financial and in-kind support to help move them down the path to commercialization through their further development, demonstration or deployment.  

DEMOday 2024

The International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) has released its sixth DEMOday list of technology needs requiring innovative solutions on behalf of its minerals industry members – BHP, Cameco, Fission Uranium, the Mosaic Company and Nutrien.

The call for submissions is now open with the deadline for submissions being February 23, 2024. Those being invited to pitch to DEMOday 2024 will be notified in March. DEMOday 2024 is scheduled to be held in association with the annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum on April 16th in Saskatoon, SK.

Applications should be submitted to rdprojects@imii.ca

 

 

DEMOday 2023

On April 18, 2023, five innovative solutions providers were invited to pitch their technologies to the 5th DEMOday held in association with the 15th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum. 

This year’s invitees focus on advanced chemicals, emissions reductions, energy efficiency and water solutions and include:

  • BioDiffusion Technologies Inc. – with a bio-based renewable resin that could help the industry address caking or clumping concerns in dry fertilizer production. biodiffusion.ca
  • Extract Energy Inc. – with a novel application of shape memory alloy heat engine in the waste heat to power space. Extract Energy – Converting waste heat into clean energy.
  • H2nanO Inc. – with a passive, naturally powered technology for process and wastewater treatment. H2nanO
  • Solex Thermal Science Inc. – with a moving bed heat exchanger with the potential to reduce emissions. solexthermal.com
  • Solex Thermal Science Inc. – with indirect heat exchange technology that has the potential to reduce energy consumption. solexthermal.com
  • 247 Solar Inc. – with a novel technology to store excess electricity from solar or wind as heat and convert this heat to electricity when needed. 247Solar – Solar Power That Gets You Through the Night – 247Solar, Inc.

 

For 2023, IMII’s minerals industry members invited innovators to apply to pitch their solutions to the following industry needs:

Advanced Chemicals:

  • Caking or clumping is a significant concern in dry fertilizer production, storage, transport, and application. IMII is seeking advanced/new anti-caking and/or dedusting chemicals that are not petroleum based and are neutral to environment and health that could be developed for and deployed in the potash (potassium chloride product) and/or uranium sectors (ammonium sulphate product).

 

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

  • Carbon capture is a technology that the minerals industry is considering deploying to help achieve carbon emissions reduction targets. IMII is looking for innovative sequestration (e.g., land sinks, engineered sinks) or utilization technologies that don’t rely on indefinite ongoing monitoring to ensure there is no release of captured carbon.

 

Emissions Reduction:

  • Saskatchewan’s minerals industry often uses shafts (vertical or near-vertical tunnels) to access the province’s rich minerals resources underground. Some of these shafts may be up to one kilometre deep, and all must be heated. This is often done by heating air before it is sent down the shaft. Clean heating solutions (e.g., using heat generated by other parts of the mining or milling process, non-fossil sources of heat, others too) are being sought which may both efficiently and safely heat the shafts.
  • The minerals industry has large buildings (e.g., mills, warehouses) that often cannot be readily insulated or retrofitted. As such, we are on the hunt for clean (i.e., non-fossil) and efficient heat solutions that could be deployed in our sector.
  • Industrial dryers are among the most versatile pieces of equipment within the industries they serve, and the potash industry uses both product and glazing dryers fueled by natural gas. IMII is inquiring for dryers using alternative to natural gas, or materially less natural gas to help reduce energy costs, exhaust volumes, and greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatives to reduce the moisture content of the product before drying may also be considered.
  • Waste heat is, by some reckonings, the biggest source of energy on the earth and we are looking for technologies which could economically capture the waste heat from dryers, mine air exhaust, etc. to be re-used to meet/offset other heating needs (e.g., pre-heating), upgrading to higher grades of heat, or even generate electricity.

 

Energy Efficiency:

  • Some areas involved in the mining or milling of minerals are sources of heat in their own right. Are there efficient area (as compared to point source) heat recovery technologies under development? Heat may be generated from pumping systems or process areas.
  • Drying potash is a vital aspect of processing the ore into a usable form for the fertilizer production process, as well as in finishing product coming off of the fertilizer production line. Is there technology that can be retrofitted to existing process dryers to promote better energy efficiency while still achieving the desired the moisture content (typically below 0.5%)?
  • The dryers used to dry and glaze potash generate a large amount of heat, and some of this heat makes its way into the finished product. This waste heat may be a resource and is also a safety concern. Separate from the process (dryer), is there a technology to cost effectively recover heat from finished product (which can range in temperature from 80 to 180 degrees C)?

 

Water Solutions:

  • The minerals industry seeks to be a wise user of water and is looking for smart industrial-scale water management solutions to help it responsibly manage the consumption and release of water from its operations.
  • Concentration involves the separation of valuable minerals from the other raw materials received from the grinding mill. In large-scale operations this is accomplished by taking advantage of the different properties of the minerals to be separated. There is a need however to dewater the concentrates afterward. Is there a technology that could produce higher grade concentrates at similar recoveries reducing the need for leach water?
  • In addition to looking for innovations to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the minerals industry is open to technologies that may allow it to reduce its consumption of fresh water. In this case, the industry would like to see if there is a technology that could use less fresh water for dryer exhaust particulate removal?

 

Production Efficiency:

  • One way the minerals industry is looking to further reduce its environmental footprint is by gathering information on mined ore before it reaches the mill. Are there technologies which could fully automate conveyor belt and/or mine face sampling of potash or uranium ores, or at other potential points early in the milling process (e.g., grinding)?
  • Underground conveyor lines are just one piece of a complex system for transporting extracted rock and minerals. Their construction requires a great deal of effort and comes with a need for the highest possible safety and reliability. IMII’s minerals members are looking for an underground conveyor structure builder/jib with the ability to reduce heavy lifting required when constructing on site the 100+ conveyors anticipated to be installed by the potash industry in the near-term.

 

Remote Sensing:

  • Rock mechanics instrumentation is deployed throughout many underground operations to gather information on the behaviour of rock in response to the stresses and strains of mining activities. Much of this instrumentation is becoming “smarter” when tied into underground communications networks. However, operations are constantly changing, creating a need for technologies for gathering information from such instrumentation even when they may not be tied into an LTE/WiFi network all the time.
  • Drifts in underground mines in Saskatchewan are often built using tunneling technology. Can such technology be adapted to provide rock mechanics data and/or geophysical information of the roof of such openings? Technologies built on multi channel analysis of surface waves may be of particular interest.
  • Mine shafts are often lined with concrete or steel to provide for ground support and the safe travel of personnel, equipment, other supplies, and ore to and from underground operations. IMII is looking for technologies (digital or otherwise) that could be developed and deployed to routinely gather data on the integrity of shafts and shaft lining in a safe and efficient way to minimize the manual collection of such data and the time dedicated to data collection.
  • Mine shafts rely on steel ropes and other attachments to safely move personnel, equipment and supplies, and ore to/from underground operations. These ropes and attachments must be maintained to a high standard. IMII is looking for technologies (digital or otherwise) that could be developed and/or deployed to improve on the gathering of information as to the condition of such ropes and attachments.

 

Mine Planning:

  • The minerals industry has benefited from the development of tools such as seismic land streamers capable of undertaking multichannel analysis of surface waves, refraction, reflection and surface-way surveys above ground. It would like to equally benefit from the development of similar technologies which could be deployed easily underground at a low cost to provide geotechnical and seismic data without compromising data quality.

 

Safety Solutions:

  • Safety is a paramount concern in the minerals industry, and this extends to all types of equipment deployed. The industry is looking for technologies for the detection and suppression (e.g., passive isolating heat from fuel) of potential mobile equipment fires – be they diesel or battery powered. A variety of technologies are of interest – shields, paint, sensors, or detectors providing warning for example (and not to limit innovation).
  • Drifts are horizontal tunnels in rock that allow access to and from ore bodies and other underground mine workings. IMII is looking for technologies or techniques which could be deployed to detect when a potash mine sidewall in a drift needs to be addressed or scaled. The technology or technique should deploy non-destructive testing and could piggyback on technologies already deployed in the industry for other purposes (such as roadbed resonance, thermal imaging, etc.).

 

Mobile Equipment:

  • The minerals industry deploys mobile equipment underground and on surface to move people and supplies, and this needs to be done safely. Are you developing navigation assist terrain detection technologies able to provide warning/guidance for evading large bumps or voids while operating mobile equipment and minimize the potential for harm to employees operating such equipment? Technologies could be deployed on equipment or personnel.
  • While many assets associated with the minerals industry are deployed within mine and mills, some are deployed remotely. The industry is looking for technologies which could monitor the location and status of such assets when the communication infrastructure associated with the mine/mill is not readily available.

 

Capital Efficiency:

  • The minerals industry is a large, capital-intensive industry and it is believed the building or expansion of a mining operation could become more efficient through new technologies which could be deployed through the engineering, procurement, and construction phases. Are there new technologies, for example, such as real-time, 3-D project management, which could be adapted for use in the minerals industry to lower capital costs and time?

 

Others:

  • Mine and mill control room operators are tasked with running operations safely and efficiently. IMII is looking for innovative technologies which may help such operators learn the skills required to run a plant in less time than in traditional classroom settings, as well as aiding if required to respond to unexpected events in “real-time.”
  • While mineral operations are often large, are there small or micro-options for generating electricity – such as micro-wind turbines or micro-hydroelectric plants for sealed pipelines for use in industrial operations?
DEMOday 2022

On May 18, 2022, ten finalists presented their innovative solutions and technologies to Saskatchewan’s leading minerals producers.

Innovators that pitched to IMII’s minerals company members include:

 

New this year – IMII’s minerals industry members – BHP, Cameco, Mosaic and Nutrien, have submitted technology needs that could be met by suppliers, inventors, start-ups, and other innovators either through the development or demonstration of a new, innovative technology.

 

For 2022, innovative ideas or solutions are being sought in the following areas:

  • Technologies/instrumentation which would allow the potash industry to better characterize rock mass deformation over time
  • Technologies which would allow the potash industry to “see forward” 10 to 100 metres in front of the mining machine without drilling to improve safety
  • Technologies which would allow the potash industry to contain/eliminate area dust in the potash drying process
  • Technologies which could assist the minerals industry in tracing, tracking, and reporting on ESG indicators and position Saskatchewan’s minerals as among the most sustainable in global markets
  • Technologies or processes which would allow the industry to effectively utilize low-grade heat or heat sources with low/no GHG emissions for mine and/or mill processes or air/space heating
  • No emission technologies for back up power generation or storage/distribution at industry scale (i.e. MW)
  • No emissions locomotives for use on site (i.e. assembling rail trains and moving rail cars)
  • Technologies which would automate core chemistry analysis (of solids and/or brine micro-fluidics) underground to inform mill processing and/or underground potash layer geology
  • Technologies which could fully automate conveyor belt and /or mine face sampling of potash
  • Technologies which could advance employee safety if adapted from other/adjacent industries, from the automation of existing manual processes or the deployment of new technologies to solve root problems such as real-time location tracking in the minerals industry
  • The development or demonstration of a non-amine dedust agent or collector for the potash sector
  • The devolpment of demonstration of a non-petroleum based anti-cake agent for the potash sector
  • Technologies for the automated measurement of ore or product stockpiles that provides real tonnages (and not volumes based on assumed densities)
  • The development or demonstration of a suitable online particle size analyzer for potash slurry
  • The development or demonstration of a dry solids flowmeter for potash
  • Technologies for online moisture detection for potash
  • The development or demonstration of air emission abatement equipment that minimizes water and energy inputs for either the potash or uranium sectors
  • Alternative technologies (including processes) to improve (e.g. addition of different centrifuges) or transform (e.g. removal of centrifuges) the debrining process in potash
DEMOday 2020

On December 2, 2020, five finalists pitched their innovative solutions to Saskatchewan’s leading minerals producers in the categories of:

  • Safety innovation – applying technology or improving processes in innovative ways, above and beyond mandatory requirements, to improve mine worker safety and health.
  • Technical innovation – improving productivity through advances in automation, digitalization, electrification, drones and smart sensors.
  • Green innovation – technologies for increasing efficiency of assets, strengthening recovery rates, reducing releases of wastes, lessening consumption of energy and water.

The selected finalists for 2020 are:

  • EECOL Electric & SafeBox – SafeBox Systems (safety innovation)
  • Noble Construction Corp. – NobleVR Safety Experience (safety innovation)
  • OXO Valve Inc. / Westlund (safety innovation)
  • RESPEC & Automodality, Inc. – Autonomous UAV (technical innovation)
  • EECOL Electric & Phoenix Contact – PLCnext Open Controller (technical innovation)

DEMOday 2020 was hosted in a virtual event by IMII on the eve of the 12th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum.

DEMOday 2019

On Wednesday, April 3rd, five supply chain innovations that matter to mining will be presented to a panel of representatives from Saskatchewan’s leading minerals companies in the International Mineral Innovation Institute’s (IMII’s) second DEMOday. They are:

  • A new cybersecurity solution for industrial SCADA systems from EECOL Electric and Nozomi Networks;
  • A new corrosion resistant epoxy powder coating technology from Saskatoon Custom Powder Coating Corporation and Akzo Nobel Coatings;
  • A new to Saskatchewan mining technology for potential use in the potash industry from Continental Mine & Industrial Supply Ltd.;
  • A new dust collection system suitable for underground potash mining from Continental Mine & Industrial Supply Ltd.; and
  • A new battery electric truck for roof bolting from Prairie Machine & Parts Mfg. Partnership.
DEMOday 2018

DEMOday 2018 was a first-time event in which supply chain companies presented their innovations directly to Saskatchewan’s major mining companies and had them considered for further review and potentially financial and in-kind support, to help move them down the path to commercialization.  Innovations aren’t innovations if they are not put to use, and supply chain companies were invited to pitch their innovation sin equipment, technologies, products or processes to industry members that may be used to improve one or more of the pillars of industry sustainability – economic, environmental or social performance.

On Tuesday, April 10th, and on the eve of the 10th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum, five innovations that matter to mining were presented to a panel of representatives from Saskatchewan’s leading minerals companies in the International Minerals Innovation Institute’s inaugural DEMOday.  They were:

  • A radically new style of conveyor belt roller with the potential to improve maintenance, safety, and productivity on existing belts from a local inventor, Danny Lewis, P.Eng.;
  • A new to mining in Canada type of conveyor drive motor with the potential to increase energy efficiency and lower maintenance and inventory costs from GMR Electric Motors Ltd.;
  • A new tool for wear analysis of mineral processing equipment using portable scanners combined with advanced analytics with the potential to improve maintenance planning and reduce downtime in operations from Croatia Industries Ltd.;
  • A new and improved replacement arm for underground bore miners in potash applications with the potential to reduce maintenance downtime and costs, and improve the capacity of the bore miner from Industrial Machine & Mfg. Inc.; and
  • A new fall protective system that is portable and easy to move with the potential to improve safety in many maintenance applications from Northern Strands.

DEMOday and Innovation Award 2021

DEMOday and Innovation Award 2020