Digital storytelling for mining: Vancouver tech company aligns with Kirkland Lake Gold to play mineral matchmaker.

Author:Ross, Ian
 
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The mining industry doesn't always do a great job of communicating its message to the masses.

Vancouver tech entrepreneur Stephen de Jong is out to rectify that, one company at a time.

The junior mining executive has a rapidly growing technology platform where both mining-savvy and novice investors alike, or even citizens concerned about a mining project, can better visualize what a company is up to from the convenience of their smartphone, tablet or desktop.

"Whether it's a community trying to understand what you're bringing to the table or if it's an investor looking at your stock, we need to find a way so people are making more informed decisions," said de Jong, president-CEO of VRIFY, a technology startup he co-founded with partner George Salamis in 2017.

VRIFY just recently launched a partnership with Kirkland Lake Gold for a first-of-its-kind online tool that will allow the mid-tier miner to evaluate potential investment opportunities.

De Jong, who is also chairman of Integra Resources, a gold and silver company with a project in Utah, is scheduled to appear at the MECA symposium in Sudbury in October.

Back when de Jong was president of Integra Gold from 2012 to 2017, his junior exploration outfit was out to revive the former Sigma-Lamaque gold mine complex just outside of Val d'Or in north western Quebec.

To draw eyeballs to their project in the Abitibi region, they fully embraced technology as a tool to better showcase themselves.

"If you charter a plane, you only bring 10 to 20 people out (for a site visit)," said de Jong. "Why not do it in such a way that you bring a thousand people out?"

Using basic off-the-shelf technology, they created a virtual mine tour, linking together panoramic photos to give a 360-degree view of the site.

This digital elevator-style pitch proved compelling to potential investors, allowing them to see the lay of the land, above and below ground, and visualize the company's plans, rather than sitting through a tedious, one-dimensional corporate slide deck presentation.

They sold Integra Gold and their original $10-million investment to Eldorado Gold for $590 million in the summer of 2017.

Through the experience of raising capital and the sales process, de Jong said they realized that delivering a really nifty downloadable app containing dynamic content, directly into someone's hand, was a much better way to communicate what they do.

"That's where the decision was made that this stuff belongs on a platform."

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