Offer a product made from mining tailings that can be used in engineering works such as bridges and highways, and that has great durability and strength. From this challenge GMTech was born, a startup participating in the first edition of the Minerall Challenge. First, the startup’s proposal was to use the mining tailings to produce a sandy aggregate for cement and related products.
After many adjustments and knowledge exchange, the team made great progress and created a geopolymeric mortar with greater durability and resistance, which in addition is fast drying and environmentally sustainable.
Athos Lima (graduating in Chemical Engineering at Uni-BH and Executive Director), Igor Ferreira (holding a degree in Mining Engineering from UFMG and Product Director), Larissa Torquato (studying Chemical Engineering at Uni-BH and Director of Operations) and Caroline Prates (PhD student in Inorganic Chemistry at UFMG and Technical Director) explain that it was not a simple path that led to this solution.
Athos told us about the development process and how they came up with geopolymeric mortar. “With a proposal based on hard science technology, it was not easy to actually develop this product. A lot of research, several attempts and some mistakes on the way have been part of this process. But we believe in the potential of what we have been developing and every day we are looking for new ways to make it all possible, to actually develop a marketable product from an economic, social and environmental point of view,” he said.
Throughout the stages of the MinerALL Challenge, they have encountered the need to pivot their business twice. For an entrepreneur, the use of this term implies a radical strategic change – be it of the market, niche, or in GMTech’s case, both. “Entrepreneurship is an art, pivoting is part of it”, points out Larissa about the lessons learned during the process.
By giving GMTech and other participating startups the opportunity to experience real market conditions and professional networking contacts, the MinerALL Challenge has enabled young people like Athos, Igor and Larissa to contribute to the future of mining. “The Challenge has opened many different doors for us. Today, we have important relationships with large companies in the sector and governmental bodies. The learning is constant and always enriching, forming not only a new professional for the market, but also a citizen who sees the world through different eyes”, says Athos.
About the Challenge
The open-innovation project MinerALL Challenge is led by Samarco, corporate accelerator Neo Ventures and Escalab, a scaling technology center. It is supported by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), the Center for Development of Nuclear Technology (CDTN) and the National Institute of Science and Technology (INCT Midas). Shortly, read about the development of Reuse, the fourth startup participating in the current edition.