Brisbane-based deep-tech mining company Plotlogic has secured US$28 million ($42 million) in Series B funding led by major global climate technology investors, including US billionaire investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer and his investment partner Katie Hall.
In one of thelargest funding rounds for an Australian tech company this year, Steyer and Hall’s climate-focused investment vehicle Galvanize Climate Solutions, and SE Ventures, which is backed by French energy giant Schneider Electric, co-led the round to help drive the company’s ‘ambitious growth agenda’ to reduce carbon emissions for the resources sector.
Founded by Dr Andrew Job five years ago, Plotlogic has become a global leader in ore characterisation, using AI technology to scan terrain and enable miners to have greater precision in the extraction of critical minerals and metals.
The Series B round was also supported by Plotlogic’s existing investors Innovation Endeavors, DCVC, Bentley iTwin Ventures and GRIDS Capital, each of which have doubled down on their Series A investments.
Main Sequence, which is backed by the CSIRO and Australian government, also participated through its recently launched Main Sequence Three fund.
“Plotlogic, our first investment at the intersection of our decarbonisation and industrial productivity challenges, offers a compelling solution that will help move the industry forward on both fronts,” says Main Sequence partner Mike Zimmerman.
Plotlogic’s core product, OreSense, combines a sensor stack and AI to scan core samples, chips and terrain in real-time to generate highly accurate ore characterisation predictions.
The technology is already in use by BHP, Vale, South32 and Pilbara Minerals to increase output and reduce waste, with Job likening the company’s technology to ‘swapping a hacksaw for a scalpel - enabling them to mine more selectively, efficiently and sustainably, benefiting both their projects and the planet’.
“Recycling alone can only meet a fraction of the demand for essential commodities making continued mining essential, and sustainability in mining can be achieved through the increased adoption of advanced technologies like ours,” says Job, the Plotlogic CEO.
“Discovering new deposits is a challenging task and the development of mines can take up to 17 years, pushing us well into the 2030s before we see any kind of transformation in the supply of minerals required for a net-zero future.
“Plotlogic is actively contributing to the pursuit of a clean energy future by enabling existing mines to extract every vestige of value right now in an environmentally sensitive way.
“We developed the OreSense technology with the firm belief that mining should be able to generate the resources society needs without harming the planet. The feedback from our customers is that we are delivering on that vision.”
Jobs has worked in the mining industry since 1998, including senior roles with Anglo American before breaking out on his own in 2018 to tackle the issue of making mining production more efficient and less destructive.
“There’s a fundamental demand shift that’s been occurring for some time and will continue to occur for both the transition into new ways of operating the economy without carbon,” Jobs told Business News Australia in an interview last year.
He says the technology developed by the company has effectively found a way to ‘scan all the rocks before they’ve been mined and do it really fast with a high degree of accuracy’.
Jobs had bootstrapped Plotlogic for the first year or so since founding the company in 2018, before tapping venture capital investors on the shoulder in 2019, leading to a $25 million raise backed by BHP in its first investment in a mining tech company for a seed round.
After a successful Series A round last year, the latest Series B was heavily oversubscribed, bucking the bearish trend currently shrouding capital markets globally.
Galvanize Climate Solutions’ co-head of venture and growth strategy, Cliff Ryan, says Plotlogic’s technology has the potential to transform the mining industry.
“Critical metals are a crucial enabler of the global transition to net-zero and technology like Plotlogic’s, that enables the more sustainable extraction of those metals, strongly aligns with our mission to support promising solutions that address the pressing challenges of climate change,” he says.
SE Ventures’ general partner Grant Allen notes that the potential of the technology was evident from the first meeting with the Plotlogic team.
“We see Plotlogic’s AI-enabled sensing technology could drastically improve the sustainability of the mining industry, increasing ore recovery and downstream processing efficiencies while reducing energy usage and waste,” Allen says.
“Their OreSense products have best-in-class accuracy and it’s faster than anything else we’ve seen.”
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