BHP Invests in Friedland’s Pulsed Power Technology

Earlier this year, I-Pulse and Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe (BEV-E) established I-ROX, which is focused on demonstrating that short, high-intensity bursts of energy delivered using pulsed-power technology can quickly and efficiently shatter rock. Developers believe this process, which targets tensile weakness in rock formations, could substantially reduce the time and energy required for mining and processing ore.

I-Pulse was co-founded by mining magnate Robert Friedland and Laurent Frescaline, an electrical engineer who has devoted his career to developing pulsed-power for commercial applications. Friedland founded Ivanhoe Mines, hence the “I” in I-Pulse. BEV-E is an investment firm seeking to finance, launch, and scale companies that will eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They believe the use of pulsed-power technology could significantly reduced the GHG emissions associated with mining and mineral processing.

The world’s largest mining company, BHP, has now thrown its hat into the ring. It entered into a collaboration agreement with I-ROX under which the companies will work together to seek to accelerate the development of I-ROX’s technology and business. BHP has also made an equity investment in I-ROX, joining I-Pulse and BEV-E as shareholders.

BHP has also made an equity investment in, and entered into a collaborative agreement with, I-Pulse to identify new applications for pulsed-power technology for mining. Within the mining context, pulsed-power technology is currently deployed by I-Pulse’s former subsidiary, Ivanhoe Electric Inc., in mineral exploration via its proprietary Typhoon system. Further opportunities to develop and commercialize pulsed-power-based applications include drilling, tunnel boring, blasting and explosives replacement.

BHP’s investment, which was not disclosed, could offer a meaningful step forward in the development and commercialization of I-Pulse technologies for the mining industry. In relation to crushing and grinding, Friedland believes that pulsed power can achieve better results for a fraction of today’s costs.

As featured in Womp 2023 Vol 01 -