Acoustic Zoom, a Newfoundland company that provides seismic solutions for miners, has closed a US$1 million investment from Goldcorp Inc. and will now undertake a US$150,000 pilot program at a Goldcorp mine.

In the past year, the company has twice competed in the #DisruptMining pitching competition in Toronto, which is a Dragons’ Den-style pitching event for startups in the mining space. Acoustic Zoom was a semi-finalist in 2017, and came back to win the event this year.

Based in Paradise, NL, just west of St. John’s, Acoustic Zoom is a geophysics company that uses high-frequency three- and four-dimensional imaging to map complex geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. The company intends to provide exploration teams with better information so they can drill smarter and improve the chances of finding ore deposits.

 “It seems like yesterday we were gathered in Toronto to experience the pitch-off between the four finalists at #DisruptMining, the mining industry’s innovation accelerator,” said Goldcorp Vice-President Luis Canepari in a post on LinkedIn. Though other finalists impressed the judges, he said, Acoustic Zoom “ultimately emerged victorious and earned the opportunity to negotiate a deal with us. We’re excited to announce that we recently closed a US$1 million investment with Acoustic Zoom.”

#Disrupt Mining is an annual competition organized by Goldcorp in Toronto that aims to encourage startups that develop new technology for the often-staid world of mining. The competition attracted more than 100 submissions this year from mining-related innovators around the world, and the first-place finish led to the investment by Vancouver-based Goldcorp.

As part of the funding, which is equivalent to C$1.3 million, Goldcorp Director of Geophysics Sergio Espinosa will join Acoustic Zoom’s board of directors. The Newfoundland company this summer will launch its pilot program at Goldcorp’s Red Lake Gold Mines in Ontario, not far from the Manitoba border.

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The pilot project will use Acoustic Zoom’s technology, which employs its own proprietary seismic imaging to get a more precise demonstration of what’s below the surface. Its AZ Seismic Imaging uses what it calls “steerable pencil acoustic beams” rather than broader conventional seismic beams to provide a more detailed presentation of mineral formations.

Established in 2012 as a joint venture between St. John’s- and Aberdeen, Scotland-based PanGeo Subsea and Missouri City, Texas-based Global Geophysical Services, Acoustic Zoom has left its development phase and is emerging into the commercial arena. It is headed by geophysicist Jacques Guigné and now has a staff of eight people.

“#DisruptMining completely accelerated our business,” said Guigné in a statement.  “The strength of our approach is the ability to adapt our imaging techniques to the requirements of a particular site. Working with Goldcorp’s geologists, we will use our winning seismic technology to deliver unique imaging data that adds risk-mitigating value from exploration to mine planning.”

In an email, Guigné added that winning the pitching competition has helped to attract other mining companies interested in the technology.

“This recognition underscores the fact Atlantic Canada innovation can compete internationally and help groups improve the understanding of their mine site,” he said. “The global exposure from our win at #DisruptMining2018 has brought several high-level export markets to our doorstep, including mines in Australia, Argentina, USA and of course elsewhere in Canada."