Chrysalix Eyes More Industrial Process Technologies, Backs MineSense
March 14, 2013 – Yuliya Chernova
(c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital has invested in a mining technology start-up, in a deal that represents the venture firm’s growing belief that advanced technologies for industrial processes will find a market in oil and gas, mining, chemical and power industries.
Charles Haythornewaite, partner at Chrysalix, said that the multi-million dollar investment in MineSense Technologies Ltd. was for a minority stake in the North Vancouver, British Columbia-based company as part of its Series A round. He declined to be more specific.
The deal, he said, “is an indication of where Chrysalix is thinking of moving into the future.” Many industrial processes are getting more expensive, even as prices aren’t necessarily rising. That means that margins of exploration companies are declining and they are forced to find new ways of doing things, opening up an opportunity for new technologies, he said.
MineSense has developed a sensing technology that can determine the level of concentration of a metal, such as copper, nickel, gold and silver, in a large chunks of rock that are mined. The idea is for mining operators to use the sensors underground in order to know which areas are barren and which should be blasted up and processed.
The sensor, which is now being tested by several paying customers, will enable mining operators to use less energy and water, and become more productive, by reducing the amount of barren rock they process. The company will test its product in the field this year, said Dr. Haythornewaite.
Chrysalix, which is investing out of its $150 million third fund, has backed a variety of clean-technology companies but has found the most success in the industrial process technologies, Dr. Haythornewaite said.
The firm has several industrial limited partners, such as oil and gas companies Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell PLC . Chrysalix is bringing these LPs fairly early into collaborations with its startups, and as investors. Shell, for example, led a recent round for another Chrysalix company, Glasspoint Solar, which uses solar heat to create steam that’s pumped into oil deposits to help loosen up the oil.
Chrysalix is making new contacts in the mining industry, which is set to become more interested in new technologies, Dr. Haythornewaite said. That may lead to new limited partnerships as well.
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