Quebec's AI research institute, Mila, is partnering with KPI Mining Solutions to improve mining efficiency with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Their collaboration aims at reducing the environmental impact of mining while bolstering Canada’s critical mineral strategy.
AI's role in Canada's mineral strategy
Tech is now a vital component of Canada's critical mineral strategy. KPI Mining Solutions is joining forces with Mila to utilize AI and ML modelling to increase mining efficiency. These enhancements not only aim to minimize mining's environmental damage but also to bolster Canada's strategy in this sector. AI, as Stéphane Létourneau, executive vice-president of Mila, emphasizes, has shown its value in supporting Canada's critical mineral strategy, a key factor in enabling the electric vehicle transition and supporting the climate agenda.
Mila, founded by Professor Yoshua Bengio, is a leading AI research institute with over 1,000 specialized machine learning researchers. KPI, a global software development and consulting firm, provides services across several sectors, including mining, supply chains, manufacturing, and transportation. They leverage deep learning (DL) and operations research (OR) for strategic mine planning, risk assessment, and simulation algorithms. The collaboration between these experts can potentially revolutionize mining processes.
The collaboration between Québec and Mila isn't an isolated instance. Other provinces, like Ontario, are investing heavily in AI initiatives that aim to enhance their tech sectors. With a combined $77-million investment for the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), they are funding programs to help local businesses develop 'critical technologies' for sectors such as mining, agrifood, and advanced manufacturing.
US-Canada collaboration on mineral supply chain
Mining-related tech has gained prominence following US President Joe Biden's 2023 visit to Canada. Both nations pledged to establish a robust, environmentally responsible, and resilient North American critical minerals supply chain. The Canadian government’s investments in the semiconductor industry are aimed at cementing Canada's position as a key player in this strategic field. This cooperation has fueled various announcements, including the Ottawa-based Ranovus securing $36 million CAD through the Canadian federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund to boost domestic semiconductor production and manufacturing.
Lithium demand also propels mining
Semiconductors aren't the only elements pushing mining forward. The rising demand for high-purity lithium, crucial for electric vehicle batteries, also plays a significant role. To address this emerging deficit, Mangrove Lithium received a $10 million USD Series A round in 2021. The company plans to use this investment to construct its first commercial-scale plant, with the goal of boosting lithium refining capacity in the Western Hemisphere.