Plotlogic, a ResourceTech company based in Brisbane, recently closed out a $43M Series B. We explore the story and how they did it. Let's dig in.
Finding your life's work can be an elusive task for many entrepreneurs. For some, the Eureka moment can strike seemingly randomly; for others, the discovery may never come. For Andrew Job, the founder of Plotlogic, his life work was triggered by an obsession with sustainability while managing mining sites.
His early career included stints with prominent mining names like Xstrata Coal, Anglo-American and Rio Tinto. Here, he was often managing the whole mine, including staff of more than 700 employees. Although each day brought new challenges, Andrew had an underlying tension with the inefficiencies of mining. In particular, there wasn't a focus on sustainability or a solution for precision mining.
In 2012, Andrew started conversations with the University of Queensland about some loose ideas for larger miners to do things differently, more precisely. Through this exploration, Andrew realised an opportunity needed to be explored more deeply. In 2016, he quit his job and started a PhD in precision resource extraction using advanced sensors and AI.
Andrew's thesis was that mining was ripe for decarbonisation. Taking his thesis further, Andrew could see that global decarbonisation efforts needed minerals like lithium to function. If he could help decarbonise the extraction of minerals needed for more benefit downstream it would be a game changer for the global shift towards renewable energy. At the same time his thesis started to culminate; a confluence of new sensors were entering the market and artificial intelligence was becoming usable.
Mining 101 & Plotlogics value proposition
Under your feet right now, there is some balance of ore and waste material. Ore is the rocks with some percentage of valuable material, and waste is the dirt between the valuable ore with minimal to no value. Rocks containing ore can then be split on a high and low-grade spectrum.
High-grade ore has lots of valuable minerals, while low-grade has much less. The optimisation that miners focus on is to determine how much of the high-grade ore can be extracted efficiently and how much low-grade ore can be processed profitably using extra processes. Plotlogic's sensors and technology help miners evaluate this optimisation in real-time as they're mining or establishing a site pre-dig.
The tech can even establish what other minerals are contained within the rock and provide feedback on how those minerals will impact the extraction process. This can include if extraction will require harmful additional chemicals or a simpler extractable via grinding.
"I think if you don't actually understand how mines operate, and how they work, what pain points mining operators are actually experiencing on a daily basis, it is really hard to come in with a new technology and to say, just plug this in over here." - Andrew Job, Founder of Plotlogic.
Market Penetration & Precision Mining
Working in mining for over a decade before starting Plotlogic gave Andrew a deep understanding of the nuances of how mines operate. He understands the daily pains of mining operators and how a new technology solution could fit into their process. Andrew also started with an understanding of the benefit Plotlogic would need to display to sell to the likes of Rio Tinto.
The team at Plotlogic hadn't accounted for the changing nature of mining companies' demands. No longer were they looking to pinpoint and extract the highest quality mineral in an area; they were now looking at mines far more holistically. These feasibility studies would incorporate the study of the mineralogy, how profitable the mine will be over an extended period of time and the ecological impact of the mine on the local area. Plotlogic jumped on this learning and improved their sensors to include a holistic report on different mineral properties across a mine site so extractors can tune their plan and, ultimately, extract more resources of a lower carbon base.
Digging to decarbonise
To decarbonise our planet and shift to more renewable power, there is a vast quantity of materials to be extracted from the earth. In particular, there is a need for lithium, cobalt, bauxite and copper. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that mineral requirements will double by 2040. Mining companies are unable to meet demand using traditional discovery methods. According to Andrew, it can take 15 years for an operating mining line to be established once a mineral deposit has been located.
Plotlogic can flip this paradigm and make pre-existing mining sites, which may be inactive, feasible again. The new technology can unlock value from these inactive mines; even their old waste piles can become valuable with Plotlogic's array of sensors.
Raising despite a down market – Andrews advice for founders
Since founding Plotlogic, Andrew has made the conscious decision to be selective about the investors he approached. The scattergun of talking to every VC in town and rolling through endless pitches wasn't going to be a good fit for him. Instead, he frontloaded the work and generated a shortlist that took into consideration the value and strategic fit each investor would bring to the company.
Andrew presented to these firms with an explainer of his vision, what the product did and how he felt each investor could contribute to the company – with a potential significant return on investment. As the company has progressed through the fundraising cycle, including a seed raise in X, an $18M Series A in March 2022, and now the $43M Series B, the list of investment firms has gotten shorter but higher conviction. The most recent round, led by Galvanise Climate Solutions and SE Ventures with participation from Australia's Main Sequence Ventures, had a relatively quick due diligence process since the firms were all familiar with Andrew and Plotlogic.
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