Pulsed power could transform mining and decarbonise key steps of the mineral extraction process
BHP invests in both I-Pulse and its affiliate, I-ROX, to develop new disruptive approaches to crushing and grinding of ores
Toulouse, France–(Newsfile Corp. – December 12, 2022) – I-Pulse Inc. (I-Pulse) and I-ROX SAS (I-ROX) are pleased to today announce a comprehensive collaboration arrangement with BHP, a world-leading resources company, to identify and develop applications of pulsed-power technology across multiple aspects of the mining industry.
Earlier this year, I-Pulse and Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe (BEV-E) announced the establishment of I-ROX, which is focused on demonstrating that short, high-intensity bursts of energy delivered using pulsed-power technology can quickly and efficiently shatter rocks and mineral ores. This process, which targets tensile weakness in rocks, could substantially reduce the time, energy usage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently generated by critical mining activities. The crushing and grinding of ores is the most energy- and capital-intensive aspect of the entire mining process – it is estimated to comprise approximately 4% of all electrical energy consumption globally and more than half a typical mine’s power usage.
BHP has entered into a collaboration agreement with I-ROX under which the companies will work together to seek to accelerate the development of I-ROX’s technology and business, and BHP will be offered direct access to this potentially disruptive technology. BHP has also made an equity investment in I-ROX, joining I-Pulse and BEV-E as shareholders.
BHP has also made an equity investment in, and entered into a collaboration agreement with, I-Pulse to identify new applications for pulsed-power technology in a mining context. Within the mining industry, pulsed-power technology is currently deployed by I-Pulse’s former subsidiary, Ivanhoe Electric Inc., in mineral exploration via its proprietary Typhoon™ system. Further opportunities to develop and commercialize pulsed-power-based applications include drilling, tunnel boring, blasting and explosives replacement.
These collaboration arrangements will link the mining and processing expertise of BHP with the pulsed-power technology and expertise of I-Pulse and I-ROX, in an effort to transform multiple aspects of mining with the potential for economic and environmental upside. This includes materially reducing GHG emissions associated with rock crushing.
Mike Henry, BHP’s Chief Executive Officer, explained, “The collaboration with I-Pulse and I-ROX will contribute to our growing portfolio of options with potential to both improve the competitiveness of and help decarbonise our current business, and also to unlock new growth opportunities beyond those available today. We are excited by the opportunity to work more closely with I-Pulse and I-ROX and bring our own expertise to the relationship to together develop these solutions.”
Robert Friedland, Chairman of I-Pulse said, “I-Pulse technologies offer transformational improvement potential in so many aspects of life. Pulsed power could enable significant energy savings in mining and manufacturing, as well as opportunities in relation to geothermal energy. The TyphoonTM system is being applied to precisely locate ore bodies and groundwater.
“BHP’s investment and our collaboration offer a meaningful step forward in the development and commercialisation of I-Pulse technologies for the mining industry and particularly in relation to the prospect of the crushing and grinding of rocks for a fraction of today’s energy consumption, environmental impact and costs.”
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Founded by Robert Friedland and Laurent Frescaline in 2005, I-Pulse Inc., a private U.S. company headquartered in Toulouse, France, uses its unique expertise in electrical energy to power disruptive industrial solutions. Mr. Frescaline is a plasma physicist and an electrical engineer who founded a successful high-technology company specialising in pulsed-power applications with domestic and international governmental agencies. The I-Pulse suite of technologies utilises proprietary capacitors that safely and repeatedly compress and release stored electricity in billionths of a second. The extremely high-powered discharges, which utilise extremely small amounts of energy, generate precise shockwaves directed to shape and assemble metals to previously unachievable degrees of precision; generate electrical fields that reveal chargeable or resistive mineral deposits, or water, at depth; and crush rock containing minerals or gemstones. I-Pulse is commercializing these applications in industries such as advanced manufacturing and mineral exploration. I-Pulse operates its I-Cube research and development facilities in Toulouse, France. Visit www.ipulse-group.com to learn more.
BHP was founded in 1885 and is a leading global resources company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, focused on providing the resources the world needs to grow and decarbonise. Copper for renewable energy. Nickel for electric vehicles. Potash for sustainable farming. Iron ore and metallurgical coal for the steel needed for global infrastructure and the energy transition. BHP operates in more than 90 locations including throughout Australia, Chile, and the United States, with a workforce of 80,000 employees and contractors.
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