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Jaime Salvo, TecnoExplora: “The biggest challenge is to arrive with a disruptive technology to a conservative industry”

Last October TecnoExplora, a mining exploration technlogical services company, was regarded at the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) convention as the most promising foreign company, which will ease its access to international markets.This news calls our attention because the co-founder and CEO of TecnoExplora, Jaime Salvo, was part of the AMTC during its first three years and was part of principal researcher Dr. Diana Comte’s team on the passive seismic tomography project. In fact, it was TecnoExplora, once founded in 2013, who acted as the industry’s counterpart in the CORFO project that boosted the development of this technology.

-How was Tecnoexplora born, four years ago?

-We noticed that our crazy idea of developing technology for exploration needed a very close company, a real partner, that could foster the process from the beginning, that could fund all the counterparts CORFO asked, but that could also bring the reaserch closer to the inustry in order to have multiple tests and trials that make us understand which were the real challenges the industry faced, and to make us have direct contact with customers and get feedback.

-What support has the company received from organizations other than the AMTC?

-To us, our relation with Fundación Chile has been paramount. We entered their acceleration program in mid-2016, besides they have a very strong mining line. So the first thing they did was to invite us to Canada to the NACO convention, they sponsored us. It wasn’t easy to get there despite their sponsorship; we had to present applications and to compete with companies from all the world in order to attend. Finally NACO chose ten finalists that could show their businesses to Canadian investors, and we competed with American, European, Mexican, Brazilian companies. From among all of them, the Canadians picked us as the foreign company with the biggest potential growth. And that was due to the sponsorship of Fundacion Chile. Also the Alta Ley mining program has backed us up enormously, choosing us as one of the three best innovations in the mining industry last year, and recently we were awarded in the CESCO Week dinner. We have also accepted Minnovex as a partner, who, as a union, have given us strong support with their model to potentiate innovation and contacts network. For instance, they made the Ministry of Mining invite us to the PDAC in Toronto, the largest exploration fair in the world.

-Apart from the award, did that mean a more concrete support? Like better access to funds, for instance?

-Not directly. We are taking these opportunities with ease, and our mid to long term goal is to have some sort of activity in Canada by the end of 2017, and to that we’ll need a capital rising process and to do it directly in Canada, associated to NACO.

-As a company, what challenges did you have to face?

-The biggest challenge is to arrive with an absolutely new, disruptive technology, to a conservative industry. It has been tremendoulsy difficult to understand how to commercialize this technology. But in the end we realized that exploration is a strategic subject. So, the decision-makers are the first-line managers, they are the ones interested in this kind of technology. Therefore it took us years to get that learning, it took a lot of effort and a lot of meetings. An, on the other hand we are probably in the worst moment in years for the mining industry, the only thing everybody wants is to save costs and not necessarily to invest in technology. Then it’s not easy either to show that a new technology will actually save costs. Nonetheless we have been able to prove all that and nowadays very good things are happening to us, such as being invited to the PDAC in Canada, and now we are pushing te technology forward, pushing it to improve resolution and to things that, a couple of years ago, we would never have thought about.

-Any other goal, or any roadmap?

-Several. As an example, this year we would like to apply this technology in four Chilean mining projects. We are working on that. We’d like to have some sort of presence in Canada, we haven’t defined our business model yet, could be a subsidiary of TecnoExplora there, or maybe the headquarters, or could be a joint venture with another company that operates the services and we can analyze the data here. That is part of what we have to define this semester. Our second challenge is to get there is to get an important capital raising. To be in Canada is expensive. And on the other hand we have seen we can maximize our services offer with new technologies, and for that we have MiREE, another project, regarding virtual reality for mining, that we developed with the AMTC. We are also developing on our own a project of video and virtual reality to measure a series of indicators within a mining site. An that way we’re going to develop new technologies that allow us to have a very complete services portfolio. Everything, with Innova Chile of CORFO as funding partner, which has allow us to have funds to pay our professional staff, to make technical visits in Chile and abroad and to go sorting every protection process.

-What services is TecnoExplora currently offering?

-Right now we offer two kinds of services. One is exploration, either brownfield or greenfield. There is an advantage to the seismic tomography, to which we have given a surname so it won’t be confused with other geophysical techniques, we call it, “long range passive seismic tomography”. Passive because it doesn´t need detonations to generate waves, and long range because it’s the best technique when you want to explore important surfaces. So, today we offer this service for 10×10 kilometers areas. An in a surface that size, it has no rival technique. So what we do is to place the seismologic stations in the surface, to record microseismicity for three or four months, analyze it and find the geometric delination of intrusive bodies, analyze which are the main structures, to determine microseismically active faults and gravel layer. The second service in which we use the technique is rock quality. Seismic tomography is a technique very useful to identify a series of rock quality indicators, indicators validated by the mining industry. If you teke the batons already in possesion of the mines, and you measure it, the propagation of P and S waves can calibrate a model that gives the customer a block model, indicating these rock quality figures. Also we offer several geologic solutions and ore deposits assessment.

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