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BHP has entered into a collaboration agreement with I-Pulse and its subsidiary I-Rox to identify and develop applications of pulsed-power technology across multiple aspects of the mining industry.

Earlier this year, I-Pulse and Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe (BEV-E) announced the establishment of I-ROX, which is focused on demonstrating that short, high-intensity bursts of energy delivered using pulsed-power technology can quickly and efficiently shatter rocks and mineral ores.

This process, which targets tensile weakness in rocks, could substantially reduce the time, energy usage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently generated by critical mining activities.

The crushing and grinding of ores is the most energy- and capital-intensive aspect of the entire mining process – it is estimated to comprise about 4 per cent of all electrical energy consumption globally and more than half a typical mine’s power usage.

BHP has 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, and BHP will be offered direct access to this potentially disruptive technology.

BHP has also made an equity investment in I-ROX, joining I-Pulse and BEV-E as shareholders.

As well, BHP has entered into a collaboration agreement with I-Pulse to identify new applications for pulsed-power technology in a mining context.

Within the mining industry, pulsed-power technology is currently deployed by I-Pulse’s former subsidiary, Ivanhoe Electric, in mineral exploration via its proprietary Typhoon system. Further opportunities to develop and commercialise pulsed-power-based applications include drilling, tunnel boring, blasting and explosives replacement.

BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry said the collaboration with I-Pulse and I-ROX would contribute to the company’s growing portfolio of options with potential to both improve the competitiveness of and help decarbonise the current business, and also to unlock new growth opportunities beyond those available today.

“We are excited by the opportunity to work more closely with I-Pulse and I-ROX and bring our own expertise to the relationship to together develop these solutions,” he said.