"We have seen a remarkable increase in revenue, surpassing 120% YoY."

Jacob Lachapelle and Jaha Sohail

CEO-IN-TRANING (JL) AND COO (JS), MAESTRO DIGITAL MINE

February 26, 2024

Can you provide an overview of Maestro Digital Mine’s (Maestro’s) performance in 2023?

JL: We have seen a remarkable increase in revenue, surpassing 120% YoY. This growth notably exceeds the typical 30% we projected. Initially rooted in the local mining sector in Sudbury, our company now generates over 70% of its revenue from international markets. This shift presented both opportunities and challenges, leading us to scale up our global support infrastructure to keep pace with the rapid expansion.

Can you outline Maestro’s approach to R&D?

JS: The collaboration to integrate with Spot, by Boston Dynamics, marked a significant step in our innovation journey. Strapping our gas sensors onto Spot robots allowed us to revolutionize data collection in hazardous mine locations, prioritizing both safety and productivity. The success of this collaboration underscores our interest in integrating robotics and AI into our strategies.

In our current R&D pipeline, a notable project is Duetto. It addresses the growing challenge of data analysis by harmonizing mine ventilation and automation through preventative and smart maintenance. This not only optimizes resource allocation but also enables predictive maintenance in larger mine infrastructures.

Could you discuss the impact of the recent DPM limits in Ontario and the ongoing electrification of equipment on mine ventilation requirements?

JL: In terms of the recent legislation in Ontario, I would not view the electrification of mining equipment as a complete solution to the challenges of mine ventilation. It is a relatively new development, and its deployment is ongoing. The full extent of the implications, especially regarding large-scale batteries underground, is not yet fully understood. EVs on the surface have shown that they pose significant health risks if they catch fire. These risks are even more pronounced in the confined space of an underground mine. 

JS: The risk-to-reward ratio for underground battery use is uncertain. While it is a positive step, ensuring safety demands data and continuous production improvements, the challenge is making battery use safer in underground mines.

What are the main challenges you have faced recently?

JL: The massive 120% growth we experienced poses hurdles. Our existing supply chains, team, and output were not initially equipped to handle such rapid scaling. 

JS: The industry has been grappling with similar challenges. To sustain and grow, we have adopted a strategy of scaling for continuous growth. Bringing in consultants from the Canadian and US automotive and aerospace industries has been crucial. We are also implementing lean manufacturing practices inspired by successful examples like Toyota's. This is not just limited to our internal operations but our customer-facing operations as well. 

In terms of talent, we focus on placing each person in the right role for success and personal growth. Our objective is not just to fill positions but to ensure we have the right team to build and carry their departments forward. Our workforce is diverse, with 75% being international employees, representing 11 different languages. This intentional approach to hiring has been essential to our success, harnessing the power of diversity and merit.

How is the rising importance of sustainability in the mining sector impacting demand for ventilation products?

JL: Beyond being the right thing to do, complying with ESG standards is essential for accessing investment dollars. Many asset managers now require companies to align with ESG profiles or portfolios to secure investments. This financial pressure is driving mining companies to adopt practices that are not only environmentally responsible but also financially beneficial. In response to this trend, we are witnessing an increase in the adoption of ventilation control and monitoring systems. These technologies not only contribute to energy savings but also ensure compliance with ESG standards, reflecting the dual focus on environmental responsibility and financial viability within the mining industry.

How do you plan to repeat the success of 2023?

JL: Our approach involves a continuous effort to sustain our growth curve. For instance, we have sought expertise from consultants experienced in landing gear for companies like Boeing. While it might seem unconventional for a mine ventilation technology company to do so, the insights gained, especially in areas like quantity and safety, are invaluable. We believe in tapping into the knowledge of best-in-class individuals from diverse industries to guide us and ensure quality and safety as we scale up. 

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