"In the past, we saw faster technology adoption by majors but today, we are witnessing the juniors realize the importance of these advancements and being part of industry 4.0."
As newly appointed President of NSS, what is your vision for the company?
Over the last three years, we partnered with Hexagon Mining and formed global partnerships to develop our in-house software. We share a vision of transitioning into global markets and succeeded in gaining market share over the last years. NSS has become known as a well-trusted brand within the Canadian market. Therefore, Hexagon Mining, a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, chose us as the authorized reseller of its portfolio. We now offer mine plan design solutions from the beginning of mine life to the end. Our most recent partnership is with Exyn Technologies, which is pioneering autonomous aerial robot systems for complex, GPS-denied environments.
Can you tell us more about MOSS and its mining applications?
The specialized Miner Operated Survey System (MOSS) is a machine guidance system for underground mining. It can project the mine design and guide clients to indicate which area to mine most efficiently and smartly. It provides the lining grade and explains where to drill. Since its inception five years ago, MOSS has also developed the ability to incorporate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), based on demand from clients. It can also display holographic results by adding a lens to it. During Covid-19, we could not go on sites, so we introduced VR to teach individuals that can operate it remotely. MOSS has been our main growth driver since we developed it. We also pride ourselves in reselling great products that we complement with MOSS, such as the Leica Geosystems.
Is the rate of technological adoption in the mining industry increasing, or is there room for improvement?
Mining in the pre-pandemic era was not the best in terms of technology adoption. However, over the past two years, the events the world witnessed have streamlined the need for mine sites to understand the importance of technology and its correlation with efficiency. The underground space requires advanced technology to make decisions in real-time, with accurate information. In the past, we saw faster technology adoption by majors but today, we are witnessing the juniors realize the importance of these advancements and being part of industry 4.0, even though they skipped 3.0, to ensure they remain competitive.
What demand trends are you witnessing for your survey solutions?
Each one of our survey solutions serves a specific purpose and urgency depending on what the business needs. In terms of reality capture, we can capture screenshots of the whole scene and extract a vast amount of data. We also do geo-mapping without the need for a geologist to go underground and risk their safety. Under our survey solutions portfolio is Leica Geosystems, which delivers outstanding range, speed and quality of 3D data under the laser scanners. Meanwhile, the Leica BLK3D combines measurement sensors, software and data processing capabilities. Technology has greatly reduced the need for people to be present underground. We expect to see more mines dig deeper in upcoming years to sustain humanity, and ensure there is a supply to satisfy the demand for metals.
How do you convert big data into actionable material?
Today people coming through the education systems have a better understanding of big data, how to capture it and read it. The industry is also increasingly hiring data analytics experts who can help them make smarter decisions using algorithms. We are utilizing technologies that can visualize the sorted data to help companies make informed decisions and are seeing a more proactive response from mining today, indicating that the industry understands the need for this change and to incorporate these technologies. Covid-19 has also accelerated the adoption of technologies and affirmed the need for systems that allow us to make decisions remotely rapidly.
Do you see the different demand for skills to implement these new technologies impacting mining companies’ relationships with communities?
Regardless of your education, we ensure that the training we provide makes it simple. Even if one’s skills may not be relevant to program MOSS, we still need to hire people to train the clients on the software. If it is not a simple product, people will not use it. If you can use a cellphone, then you can operate and teach nine out of ten our technologies. So this is applicable for mining companies who train communities too, because even though they will be applying sophisticated technologies, they will still continue hiring locally to help them implement it.