Yesterday I tracked down mining tycoon Rob McEwen. He infamously turned Goldcorp, a relatively small Canadian gold mining company into the world’s second largest — from $50 million to $10 billion market cap. Rob spoke at a Scotiabank mining conference at the King Edward hotel in Toronto. After unsuccessfully trying to haggle my way into the non-public conference ballroom, I sat in a stately lobby with fat Greek columns next to a giant Christmas tree and waited for him to come out. Recognizing his face from a Bloomberg interview, I noticed and followed him upstairs to the mezzanine. I approached Mr. McEwen at the snack table and got my introduction in before the nice gatekeeper lady who denied me earlier came to shoo me away. Luckily he’s a cool guy; we went back down to the lobby and sat near the pine tree to discuss a mixture of medicine and technology.
McEwen is familiar with what can come of good data and good software. In 2006 Canadian Business magazine named him the ‘Most Innovative CEO’. He’s also an investor, and as Noo Corp is seeking investment, I thought it wise to pitch him.
Harvesting natural resources is probably an older profession than prostitution. It’s the backbone of any given civilization – famous or forgotten. When supplies collapse, so do empires. In recent times, as the Earth’s population has exploded, demand for things like copper or cadmium has increased dramatically. As a result, natural resource extraction has gained a well-deserved reputation as being downright dirty [July ’13 edit: it is truly ugly]. Yet with companies like Planetary Resources looking to the heavens as the next great frontier for the elements we use, it seems fair to say that our appetite for raw stuff is insatiable.
As a side note, before the San Francisco / Bay Area became Silicon Valley, it was the site of a great mining rush, as pointed out in this fascinating talk (thanks Pete).
Back to the story, McEwen’s insight was that the mining industry is mostly aloof regarding its use of data. This was a light bulb moment: noospheer has finally found its niche. Unifying the entirety of a given mining corporation’s data — both geospatial and logistical — implies an increase in efficiency. Overlaying this with open data on a given parcel of land from the wider network implies an increase in awareness. Efficiency and awareness in this context means less environmental impact. By integrating multiple data fields gathered from increasingly non-invasive exploration technologies, we can get more out of this planet while scarring her surface less. In the future, we should one day be able to teleport gold right from within the Earth’s crust.
Noospheer’s vertical is the natural resource mining industry as its a mess, and its data is too. Clean up the data, clean up the world. We’ve now met and spoken with numerous mining software companies for feedback, raw test data for piloting the system, and agreement to run the beta once ready.
Was Noo Corp successful with the ask? I’ll let you know. ~Jordan
[July ’13: not yet]