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How Connec is powering the future of mining

January 27, 2021

How Connec is powering the future of mining

Over the past forty years the world has benefitted from rapid technological change – VHS tapes evolving to DVDs and finally streaming, to give an example – making life easier, faster, and more convenient in almost every regard.

Over the past forty years the world has benefitted from rapid technological change – VHS tapes evolving to DVDs and finally streaming, to give an example – making life easier, faster, and more convenient in almost every regard.

But deep in the bowels of the world’s resources industry, miners risking life and limb to extract vital metals and minerals are still relying on technology first introduced in 1980.

High voltage power couplers are critical components powering the immense machines which dig, tunnel, and bore their way through the earth. But these heavy, metal contraptions haven’t seen any improvement since Sony Walkman ruled the portable media market.

Instead, most mines rely on heavy, metal couplers which generate significant amounts of heat, need to be dismantled to test whether power is still passing through the unit; and need to be back-filled with thermosetting materials to be re-assembled.

These can be costly, difficult to install (or test), and pose risks to their users.

Now an Australian company is looking to overcome these problems with a disruptive new coupler design constructed from its own patented polymer – Connec. The company was established in 2014 with the specific goal of redesigning the ageing high voltage coupler systems available at the time

The company is led by Kim Manly, Dr John Kier and Stephen Williams – all alumni of Atlantis Resources, who are constructing the world’s largest planned tidal stream energy project, MeyGen, in Scotland.

This team have since successfully constructed the world’s first polymer high voltage connector system to receive IECEx/ASNZS certification.

This certification means the products are approved for use in explosive environments, and already major mining companies are swapping to Connec’s unique product suite.

 

Product Highlights:

 

Light-weight connectors easier to install 

Connec’s patented polymer casings are significantly lighter than existing, metal-based products – weighing as much as 50% less than rival products

The lightweight design means fewer workers are required to maneuver the couplers into position when connecting, and reduces some of the associated risks in moving heavy objects

 

Improved ability to test for live or dead

In addition to being lighter, the polymer casing used in Connec’s couplers allow users to test whether high voltage electrical currents are flowing through the device without dismantling the unit.

Existing metal couplers prevent testing equipment from being able to detect whether cables are live or dead without being disconnected first, making testing a lengthy and expensive process.

 

Reduced risk of explosive failure

The unique design of Connec’s couplers reduces the risk of explosions in two ways. The first being the inclusion of segregated flame-proof chambers within the coupler itself, reducing the explosive potential of the unit.

Secondly, Connec’s couplers utilise independent earth phase tubes – which keep the three copper connectors running through the unit separate. In older couplers, these three connectors are spliced together through the unit before being separated out at the other side – corrupting the cable and creating enormous amounts of heat.

This heat represents a significant safety risk in the mining industry, especially in oil and gas extraction, and Connec’s design reduces this risk of explosion or fire.

 

Cheaper whole-of-life costing

Existing couplers need to be back-filled with a rubberised, thermo-setting compound in order to insulate the unit and protect it from any form of sparking or electrical discharge within the coupler itself.

It takes roughly three hours just to remove this filling in order to repair a damaged coupler, while connecting one to a cable typically takes about four hours.

Because Connec’s couplers are made from an insulating polymer, this back-filling process is not required and the time to connect a coupler to a cable is reduced to 40 minutes – representing significant cost savings.

 

Ground floor doors closing 

A testament to the strength of Connec’s products is their lengthy list of existing clients, including some of the largest and most well-known miners in Australia – notably Glencore, Idemitsu, and Anglo-American.

 

“We got our first installation at [The idemitsu-owned coal mine] Ensham Resources last year in Queensland, and very significantly they’ve now placed their second order,” Mr Manley said. “We have confirmation from them that they will commence a process of refitting their entire mine to Connec products.

 

Anglo-American have roughly $1.4 million worth of orders already booked for the coming years, while Glencore have agreed to implement Connec technology across two of their mines

A further 17 mining businesses have similarly agreed to commence the transition to Connec products.

With clients clamouring to roll out Connec’s couplers across their mine sites, the company is now looking to advance to the next stage of its growth – representing a unique opportunity for investors to take an early stake in this disruptive company at an attractive valuation.

 

For the last few months Reach has assisted Connec with a capital raise of $10m. So far we have raised $9m and expect to close shortly. If you’d like to know more, please click here to request the offer document.

 

Reach Markets are the advisors assisting on with the management of this offer and may receive fees depending on whether an offer is taken up by investors.

 

Sources:


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