LithologIQ helps the mining industry find the minerals it’s looking for

LithologIQ helps the mining industry find the minerals it’s looking for

by Startup Montréal
30 April 2023

This article was initially published in French on infobref.com

Before exploiting a new mineral deposit, a mining company must carry out underground analyses to find out exactly where the minerals it wants to extract are located. These analyses are also used to predict the yield from mining the deposit. But analyses are time-consuming, expensive and not always accurate. LithologIQ, a young Montreal-based company, has designed a simple, rapid analysis process that enables mining companies to analyze their samples accurately.

The problem the company is tackling is the cost and complexity of subsurface analysis for mining. “Analytical processes rely mainly on visual observation of samples, but the human eye is limited,” Simon Lessard, CEO and founder of LithologIQ, tells InfoBref. Typically, before a mine is installed on a territory, a mining company analyzes the soil by taking core samples: these are cylindrical samples of the ground that are extracted vertically. The core samples make it possible to find deposits and estimate their concentration. The samples are then sent to laboratories for analysis by specialized companies. But these analyses are expensive and can take several weeks. Mining companies are often forced to make decisions before they receive the results.

LithologIQ’s solution is a mobile laboratory that reduces analysis time and costs, and improves data quality. All the laboratory’s equipment is housed in a 20-foot-long container, which can be trucked to a potential mine site.

LithologIQ analyzes core samples using a hyperspectral imaging process. This process breaks light down into a spectrum and brings out the unique fingerprint of each mineral,” explains Simon Lessard. With this data, LithologIQ can deduce where areas with high mining potential lie, and whether there are any harmful elements present, then pass this information on to the mining company. The complete analysis takes less than a day. And it’s cheaper than laboratory tests.

The company’s business model is to sell its analysis service to mining companies. For each analysis, it travels to the site with its laboratory and technicians. This spring, LithologIQ was awarded a $350,000 grant from the French Ministry of the Economy. This grant enabled the company to undertake a pilot project with its first customer, a Quebec gold producer. The company is now in the process of raising its first round of financing, with a view to commercializing its service on a larger scale.

LithologIQ is one of 20 start-ups selected in 2023 for Startup Montréal’s Bourse+ program.

Next steps for LithologIQ:

  • The company wants to market its service first in Canada, then elsewhere in the world.
  • They also wants to adapt it so that it can help more mining companies.
  • “For the moment, we’re concentrating on the analysis of certain metals, such as gold, copper and iron,” explains Simon Lessard. “In the future, we’d also like to help companies looking for metals of the future, such as lithium, rare earths and nickel, used in particular to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.”