How BHP Xplor is Disrupting Mineral Exploration with Charlee Johnson

BHP's Xplor program brings an accelerator to mining - providing funding, expertise and connections to exploration startups for ideas and new partnerships.

On this episode of On the Rocks, host Emily King chats with Charlee Johnson, the BHP Xplor Program Lead!

The mining industry is not typically known for being fast-moving or innovative. However, BHP's Xplor program is looking to change that, disrupting how major mining companies interact with junior explorers and startups.

BHP Xplor is a unique, six-month accelerator program for early-stage explorers looking to fast-track their geologic concepts and become investment ready. But what sets it apart in the mining industry?

What Sets BHP Xplor Apart?

The BHP Xplor program follows an "accelerator model", which is something we often see in the technology or pharmaceutical spaces. Accelerators are essentially crowdsourcing platforms with an open application process, encouraging everyone from individuals with big ideas to established companies with multi-asset portfolios to apply! The goal of the BHP Xplor accelerator is to provide funding, connections, and support to accelerate these startups and ideas, with the ultimate goal of speeding up exploration campaigns and potential discoveries. The pace and collaborative model of accelerators presents new opportunities for the mining industry.

Tech accelerators really grew out of the fast growth of the tech industry in recent years. However, BHP Xplor is the first of its kind in the mining industry. Mining timelines have historically been much longer - 10-20 years from exploration to discovery. However, there is a push now to shorten these timelines and speed up the pace through innovation, due in large to the increase in demand for metals for the green energy transition. 

"I think for mining, the timelines are different than technology, or they have been in the past, and what we're seeing now is the need to accelerate the mining timelines, accelerate exploration specifically, and shorten the timelines that historically have been 10, 15, 20 years from exploration to discovery down to less than 10 years. And so this accelerator concept, the pace behind it, the early funding, the connections and the support to move things quickly, bringing that into exploration is a way to do that."

How BHP Xplor Accelerates Innovation

The BHP Xplor program provides a 6-month accelerator experience. Exploration startups receive USD$500K in equity-free funding to participate. As Charlee explains, this funding is not meant to fully fund exploration. Instead, it provides freedom for the companies to step back and holistically rethink exploration concepts and plans.

Too often, junior explorers are stuck on a fundraising treadmill, constantly raising small amounts of capital just to fund the next phase. The BHP Xplor funding and support allows companies to take a long-term view, without the pressures of continuous fundraising.

Throughout the 6 months, the BHP team provides connections to internal and external experts, social networks, and masterclasses on key concepts. This further builds capabilities and confidence in the exploration plans.

Charlee emphasized that an important part of the program is developing relationships and trust between BHP and the explorers. The goal is to set the foundation for longer-term partnerships beyond the program.

"What I found specific in the exploration industry is these people that are, like I said earlier, just passionate about what they do. So you have BHP, a powerhouse mining company, one of the biggest in the world, that's looking to partner with small groups. These groups are passionate people. They love what they do. And we've built this vehicle with (BHP) Xplor that has the potential to really disrupt the way that majors and juniors work together. Through the program, I've learned that there's this industry that, and in the juniors that is out there working very hard at what they do to go on these treasure hunts and what we can provide as a big company and BHP, is a really amazing new partnership model to work together in a new way."

So How Can You Apply? 

If you have an exciting exploration opportunity and are ready to fast-track your path to discovery, BHP Xplor wants to hear from you! You can click here to learn more about the program, or click here to apply!  

This episode of On the Rocks has been brought to you in partnership with BHP Xplor. 

Similar posts

Subscribe to keep your finger on the pulse of the mining industry.

Our weekly blog and newsletter, "The Nugget," offers readers an inside look at commodity prices, current events in the mining and commodities industries, and the latest 43-101 Reports published to the Prospector Portal.