Alexandre Grenier studied mining engineering and has an interest in programming. While working at the Magdalen Islands salt mine, he had the idea of combining the two. This gave Point Laz, a small company born in Quebec in the midst of a pandemic, in 2020. “I saw that there was a lot of time lost in the inspection of wells that mining companies have to do regularly”, explains he.
The traditional way to do this is to lower miners slowly down the shaft and do a visual inspection, with lights, looking for cracks or anomalies. Between eight and twelve hours per week must be devoted to these mandatory inspections. “During that time, we don’t extract any ore,” says the entrepreneur, who searched and found a more efficient way to prevent mining companies from leaving millions on the table. With two partners, Alexandre founded Point Laz, before buying their shares and becoming the sole owner.
Point Laz has developed a technology that scans the walls of wells and produces 3D data that is more accurate and more reliable than a visual inspection. “We developed everything internally,” says the boss of the company, which has seven employees.
You still have to go down the shaft, but Point Laz’s scanning technology speeds up inspection and reduces downtime in operations. “Most importantly, the security of operations is improved,” he says.
The intelligent surveillance system dubbed Lazaruss has been ready for commercialization since May.
Mine shaft inspection will probably never be 100% automated, but Point Laz’s hybrid solution increases the efficiency and safety of mining operations. The company has applied for a patent and certification for its product.
The innovation has already attracted the interest of mining companies, which are currently testing the technology. Canada is a big market for a company like Point Laz, says Alexandre Grenier, but the company is also aiming for geographic expansion into mining regions elsewhere in the world, such as Australia and South Africa.
Mining technologies do not arouse much appetite among investors, noted Alexandre Grenier. The beginnings of Point Laz were financed by its founders and the support of Centech, the organization of the École de technologie supérieure. A financing round is on the menu for the next few months.
Point Laz is primarily targeting the mining industry all over the world, but is also thinking of other interesting applications for its technology: the inspection of elevator shafts in office buildings and tunnels of all kinds, such as those in the Metro.