Reality is new tour option for investors

UK-based start-up Reality Check is predicting a strong year of user growth for its subscription-based virtual reality mine tour platform and service as it transitions from a test phase involving the likes of Barrick Gold Corp, to commercialisation of the offering. The company claims to have a “growing pipeline of additional clients who want to be on the platform in 2018”.

Staff reporter
 Virtual reality technologies are being widely applied in mining today

Virtual reality technologies are being widely applied in mining today

Led by founder and CEO John van Eeghen, who spent 10 years at stockbrokers and an investment bank in Canada and England, Reality Check was established in 2015 with the aim of providing investment types with access to remote mining project and operating sites, via a combination of survey, mapping, modelling and VR technologies, and the web.

Not the first company to provide such a service, Reality Check claims to give virtual tour visitors more and better information through high-tech site building and 3D presentation.

"Where we differentiate ourselves is that we can take 3D models of anything, from surface and underground infrastructure to orebody and drift models, photographs and pop-ups of production and performance stats, and have all these combined and accessible in the 3D platform," van Eaghen said.

"It gives interested parties a good initial understanding of the mine site layout and a sense of the mine day to day operation, without having to visit what is often a remote area. We are not looking to replace analyst and similar visits, but it gives a good alternative when they are not possible due to cost and time constraints."

A pilot project on Barrick's Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic is said to have taken only five days of data gathering and the major has since commissioned a "full visualisation" of a second gold mine.

"Reality Check couldn't be just pretty, or have an abstract value, we had to present a clear and direct value case to the industry with different options at sensible price points," van Eaghen said.

A spokesperson told Mining Journal Reality Check was "democratising VR tours to include the entire mining sector, allowing asset owners of all sizes to utilise the power of VR tours to engage with the investor community in an informative and immersive way".

"Reality Check understands the needs of both the asset owner and the investor, which means to cookie cut technology from other sectors is not going to deliver an acceptable service to these groups."

The spokesperson said the company's market research indicated a strong appetite for a high-value, low barrier to entry platform from across the mining sector, "with large asset owners valuing the deep understanding of the sector and smaller asset owners getting affordable access to the platform to solve the challenge of engaging with investors given their lower visibility and marketing budgets".

The service had "applications to many other industry verticals that will be addressed as our capacity allows".

The spokesperson said mining industry investors had backed Reality Check so far, which was "part of the reason we know there is an audience for assets on Reality Check's platform".

Asked about further development and expansion funding, and possible exit strategies, he said the company had long-term, patient investors.

An initial public offering (IPO) was one option to access additional development capital and provide early investors with some liquidity.

"But this would still likely be some way off and not necessarily the company's or our investors' preferred option," the spokesperson said.

"For now, we are focusing on building the momentum we have worked to accrue and on keeping the platform development on schedule.

"We have already delivered several projects for different clients and had repeat business across asset portfolios.

"Clients have universally been pleased with the tour content, the functionality of the platform and the flexibility of our business model that allows for the optimum return on investment."


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