Get to know MinersAI - Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator

Nov 07, 2023

Thomas-Louis de Lophem (CEO) | Mason Dykstra (CTO)

MinersAI wants to ensure that the supply of critical minerals is not a bottleneck for the energy transition. We empower mineral exploration companies to rapidly start and advance projects by providing geological data on a platform with data analytical and AI tools. We aim to be the go-to platform and marketplace for mineral exploration companies to find, analyze, buy and sell geological data. Ultimately, we want to help discover the abundant supply of critical minerals the modern world demands.

1. Describe the problem/the industry that you are trying to mediate (and precise the UN SDG-s you are solving).

The energy transition relies on a multitude of critical minerals, but the current supply is not adequate to meet the coming demand. The mineral exploration industry needs access to high-quality data in order to speed up the discovery and development of the mineral resources we need to electrify our planet, but that data is hard to gather and make available digitally, so we are doing the hard work in order to level the playing field for all mineral explorers.

The UN SDG goals that we relate the most to are Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy, 9: Energy, Innovation and Infrastructure and 12: Sustainable consumption and production patterns.

2. How did the idea to create the company come to mind? How did your team come to be?

Our journey started with the realization that Critical Minerals pose a threat to the energy transition in two ways. First, there aren’t enough reserves discovered to meet the projected increase in demand. This will not only slow down all the electrification efforts, but will also make the energy transition more expensive and unequal due to cost. Second, current extraction sites are located in geographies where ESG standards aren’t a priority. We thus face the risk that supplying critical minerals could end up creating more harm to the environment than the benefit that the energy transition will bring.

We met at a mining conference in Toronto, and immediately started brainstorming how we could help the industry, given their skill-sets. We started to look in depth at the root causes of the upcoming supply crunch, started mapping the whole industry and looked into what the Tech world could bring to make the industry more efficient. After numerous discussions with mining and junior exploration companies, we realized there is a large gap in the market when it comes to easily available and analytics-ready geological data, and decided to start a company to fill that gap.

3. Why did you choose to participate in the Paris Techstars accelerator program? What are you looking forward to the most?

Although seemingly contradictory to many people, mining is critical for a successful Energy Transition, but it will take dedicated actors and positive environmental stewardship to ensure that mining will bring more benefit than harm. We believe with modern technology and practices, we can help find the resources needed to transition away from fossil fuels in an environmentally positive way. It all starts with the choice of geographies in which to open new mines. If mining companies have more choices they can make the right choice. Our purpose is to help them have more choices.

The Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator was a great fit for us. We wanted to get coaching and support from experienced entrepreneurs who have a critical view sustainable business standards and can help us drive company growth with these objectives in sight at all times. Techstars has been instrumental in providing guidance on that aspect, but also in how to build a business that will last and be profitable. We’ve been exposed to a very large network of amazing companies and founders with a wide range of expertise, and have no doubt the experience will help us choose priorities, build teams and impact our industry in an accelerated timeframe.

4. What are you the most proud of in your initial journey with your company?

The both of us come from different industries, and it takes a lot of risk to set up a company in a field where we didn’t have an initial grip. With dedication (we’re quite dogged), work, a truly open mind and a willingness to help, we’ve identified opportunities that are truly worth pursuing.

Our message seems to be resonating, and we’re getting a lot of interest from both the investment community and from our customers. We love going to the field and meeting with customers, whether it is during conferences or by putting our boots on, equipped with our picks and hammers, and helping companies do some mineral exploration in the wild. We did this in Austria with a partner company of ours, Edelweiss Resources, and we found it extremely valuable. Finally, we work really well together as co founders, and we very much share a vision that we think we can translate into positive action in the real world. Our collaboration started with an alignment on our values, and we’re putting discipline and good communication habits to use to make our company a success.

5. How do you plan to measure the positive impact of your company in the next 5 years?

MinersAI’s goal is to ensure that the supply of critical minerals does not end up being a bottleneck to the energy transition. We are committed to tracking and mitigating our environmental footprint, including our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. In order to track our progress we will need to calculate the environmental savings of using our services for our customers relative to the status quo. This will encompass at least two categories. Firstly, we want to understand from customer surveys business travel saved relative to using current methods. This metric can be directly converted to tons of CO2 saved. We are as yet unsure how large the impact of this could be, but the best way to find out is to track and measure. Secondly, we want to track the development of exploration projects into producing mines in the long run to test our hypothesis that developing mines in ESG-friendly geographies will have a positive, measurable impact relative to the development of mines in less ESG-friendly geographies. We will need to work on how to develop these data into measurable metrics.

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