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2017 Disrupt Mining alumni report progress

February 21, 2018
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

Cementation close to site selection for injection hoisting demonstrator

Kurtis Vanwallegham, CEO

Cementation is close to naming a site for the construction of an injection hoisting system, the novel technology that wowed judges at last year’s Disrupt Mining competition.

The North Bay contract miner has a tentative site, but is still putting some final touches on a business case and firming up funding.

The injection hoisting system leverages the physics of reverse circulation drilling.

It consists of a U-tube loop with a circulating carrier fluid the consistency of mud that mixes with finely crushed ore introduced at the bottom part of the loop by an injector pump and is then conveyed to surface, where it is separated using a hydrocyclone.

“For a mine that’s trucking ore to surface, you can drill two boreholes…and you wouldn’t have to truck the ore to surface,” Cementation president Roy Slack told Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal last year. For a mine that would normally look at hoisting ore to surface, injection hoisting is an even more attractive alternative. A production hoist wouldn’t be required, you wouldn’t need any bins, and you could potentially reduce the diameter of the shaft.

“We estimate six months off the traditional production shaft sinking schedule,” Slack said.

Since its selection as a co-winner of the Disrupt Mining competition in March 2017, Cementation “has advanced the detailed engineering, talked with two mining companies to potentially use one of their underground operations for a full-scale prototype and pulled the detailed engineering into virtual reality so you can do a walk-through of the plant wearing goggles,” said Slack.

One of the sticking points is funding.

“The word fun is part of the word funding…but it’s not fun,” joked Slack. “The industry has been very supportive, but at the same time, the demonstrator model that we’re looking at building is probably a $7 million project.”

With funding from Cementation and three or four major mining companies and matching support from government, “we’d be in a position this spring or summer to begin construction,” he said.

“We would build some plants and make a little bit of money on it, but the real beneficiary is the industry. That’s why we’re hoping the industry can get behind it. Typically, within Cementation, we do our R&D and we roll it out, so we’re pretty independent. We don’t need a lot of funding and we don’t need to negotiate with third parties. This is a different animal for us, but we’ve seen that the industry is more open to innovation in the last couple of years and the media has played a part in that.”

As co-winner of the inaugural Disrupt Mining competition, Cementation won a $500,000 “capital opportunity,” an additional $50,000 from two judges and a $50,0000 People’s Choice Award.

Sudbury-based Bio-Mine Ltd., one of five finalists at last year’s Disrupt Mining competition, recently moved into a 7,500-square-foot lab and has partnered with four mining companies, said CEO Kurtis Vanwallegham.

Bio-Mine impressed the judges with its proposal to use “a bio-intelligent, augmenting consortium” of micro-organisms for metal recovery and remediation, but the company has since broadened its suite of technologies and adopted the model of an environmental incubator with the objective of achieving a zero footprint mine that can “crush, treat, leach and remediate with no toxicity, no tailings and no waste.”

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