After spending several years as a subsidiary of Swick Mining Services’ (ASX:SWK) technology business Orexplore is now gearing up to forge its own destiny.

Initially founded in 2010 by Swedish geotechnical engineer Anders Ullberg and professor of radiology Ragnar Kullenberg, Orexplore’s inception aimed to develop new, more efficient, and highly sustainable methods for scanning minerals in the rock.

The company’s partnership with Australia-based Swick began in 2013 when it acquired a minority interest, ultimately acquiring Orexplore in its entirety in 2017.

While plans to demerge the drilling giant’s mineral technology division have been under consideration for some time and formally announced in July 2021, with DH1’s (ASX:DDH) takeover bid for Swick looming, the timing for Orexplore to become a stand-alone entity is ideal.

Speaking to Stockhead, Orexplore managing director Brett Giroud noted that while Swick had shown great vision and patience in incubating Orexplore, it was time for the business to become independent.

“We are emerging from a mining services company to become a mining-focused technology company.  This will require different business, operating and product strategies, a global-growth organisational architecture, and a laser focus on creating value across the mining value chain for different customer segments and ecosystems.”

“We think now is the time to get fit and become our own company to attract new technology-focused capital as we scale globally over time”.

“There’s a lot of great reasons for the demerger, including increased flexibility to implement independent operating strategies to drive long-term shareholder value, access to growth capital funding, and attracting and aligning the appropriate investor base with Orexplore’s business objectives and growth outlook”.

Under the proposed demerger, which is a condition of the DDH1 acquisition bid, eligible Swick shareholders will receive one Orexplore share for every three Swick shares they hold.

These shareholders will also be entitled to participate in a priority offer priced at 25c – a 48% to 57% discount to the independent valuation prepared by Deloitte Corporate Finance – to raise between $1m and $2.5m.

Swick will invest $12m in the new company at the time of listing to provide Orexplore with sufficient capital to execute its business plan over the next two years.

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Loading drill core into the GeoCore X10. Pic: Supplied

Core analysis technology

At the heart of Orexplore’s technology offering is its GeoCore X10® core analyser, combining two X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) scanners and a CT scanner, able to scan up to four 1m core samples per hour.

While XRF scanners aren’t necessarily new, often used to determine present minerals by analysing the fluorescent (or secondary) X-ray emitted from a sample when a primary x-ray source is directed at it, it’s the GeoCore’s X10® combined XRF and XRT (CT scanning) instruments, in conjunction with the user interface software Orexplore Insight ®that set it apart from competitors and enables Orexplore’s technology platform to move the needle for customers.

The deep bench strength in research and development out of Orexplore’s Stockholm office provides the underlying physics, systems, and product development that delivers the platform’s capabilities and powers the value propositions.

Giroud quickly points out that replacing laboratory analysis is not the development goal of this technology, and that for specific, high-accuracy grades and analysis, the laboratories continue to deliver excellent accuracy, despite current long delays and the emergence of disruptive forces in this domain such as Chrysos and others.

However, Orexplore’s GeoCore X10® can provide a rich suite of information data set to help companies connect their geology to their best minds to make better decisions more broadly across the mining value chain.

“We want to connect our customers best minds to their assets and geology in near-real-time to make the highest-quality rapid decisions”.  “By sensing core shortly after it is drilled, directly in the field and making that information rapidly available anywhere in the world, we can shift the dial on the pace and quality of drilling”.

“Let’s drill for information and get that information to the right person at the right time to increase decision quality” he added.

“Our technology has the capability to be adopted by geologists and geoscientists as a “better screwdriver” to reliably and repeatedly sense and discover density, lithology, structures, and others to help across exploration decision support; semi-automated core-logging; ore sorting, creating digital twins or “Virtual Core Farms”; and other value propositions under development within the operations and back-end domains of the mining value chain,” Giroud noted.

These are different things that support different decisions than those based around laboratory results”

“With our CT scanner and Insight platform, we “see through the core”, and it is done within a matter of hours of it being drilled, rather than waiting weeks or months for results, when it may be too late to dynamically adjust what you are doing in the field in response.”

Adding this could also help with operations such as core logging, helping customers determine which samples are worthwhile sending to traditional labs, highlighting a prior case where no visible gold was observed on the outside of the core but, when scanned with the GeoCore X10, high attenuation particles were clearly present internally.

Orexplore’s hardware is also quickly mobilised, with the company able to build and deploy customised shipping containers equipped with multiple X10 units, from its Stockholm location, within a week.

More than core analysis

And while the company is working on an improved version of its drill core scanner – the GeoCore X10® + – that’s not all it’s offering customers.

Orexplore is also looking to leverage its strong R&D team in Stockholm, Sweden, and its engineering department and project delivery team in Perth to help clients respond to industry mega-trends such as the digital transformation of mining operations ESG and sustainability, and the energy transition. It seeks to help customers improve their transitions through these trends through a deep understanding of how they are buffeting the mining industry and insight into where the opportunities to capture the value and reduce risk through technology integration may reside across the mining value chain.

He also highlighted the company’s ability to support the trend towards operations being more distributed with sites across the global footprint using technology to feed information to centralised hubs with subject matter experts.

“The architecture of our whole business aligns nicely with this centralisation of subject matter experts,” Giroud explained, and added, “connecting reserves and drill campaigns to a customer SME’s can enable higher quality, far more rapid decision making for a business”.

Giroud noted that while the uptake of digital transformation has been slower than expected due to the generally conservative nature of mining, the adoption of new technology in some areas has been accelerating.

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GeoCore X10s ready for mobilisation Pic: Supplied

“As they see the value in their operations and the reduction in risks, people are starting to adopt technology faster across the mining value chain,” he added.

“Our insight platform, remote sensing of geology, resources and reserves from our platform in a matter of hours or days later, gets the right information to the right people at the right time to improve and enhance their decisions.  In an accelerating world, decision-making speed is king with sufficient supporting information.”

The priority offer to Swick shareholders opened on 7 December and closes on 22 December, with the company expected to list on the ASX on 21 January 2022.

 

This article was developed in collaboration with Orexplore, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.