A repository of mining expertise
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the complaint that mining companies are slow to embrace change and never want to be the first to try something new. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case any more with the likes of Rio Tinto and AngloGold Ashanti racing to develop tunnel and shaft boring technologies for their mass mining operations. Neither is it the case for Vale’s Sudbury operation, which is in the midst of a $49 million demonstration project to prove the feasibility of Rail-Veyor Technologies’ innovative material handling solution.
Mining arguably poses more challenges than almost any other human endeavour. The forest industry just has to cut down trees, the agrifood sector sows seeds, and in the fishing industry, factory trawlers scoop up fish with huge nets. Mining, by contrast, requires a totally different scale of ingenuity. The resources we are after are buried up to a couple of thousand metres underground at grades as low as one per cent. To access them, we nothing of sinking 10 metre wide shafts five and a half times the size of Toronto’s CN Tower. We excavate dozens of kilometres of tunnels at depth where we operate fleets of jumbo drills, loaders and haul trucks to break rock, collect it and bring it to surface for smelting and refining.
And, as the 600 plus delegates at MassMin 2012 heard in Sudbury June 11 to 13, we are already planning for even more ambitious mining operations thousands of metres under the ocean and 348,000 kilometres away on the moon.
This is not an industry for the faint of heart. Neither is it an industry for reckless experimentation. There is too much at stake, both in terms of safety and financial ruin.
The sheer magnitude of the challenges we face in mining breeds ingenuity, which is why the Sudbury area mining cluster with more than a century of mining has evolved as one of the industry’s foremost brain trusts. It’s why Rio Tinto came to Sudbury-based Centre for Excellence in Mning Innovation for help with its Mine of the Future project, and why NASA and the Canadian Space Agency turned to NORCAT to build a core drill to confirm the quality and quantity of water on the moon.
This record-setting issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal puts the spotlight on several other examples of the ingenuity that pervades the Sudbury and area mining cluster – from Rail-Veyor Technologies’ novel material handling solution and Penguin ASI’s ground-breaking optical communication technology to Hard-Line Solutions’ waster-water management systems, Marcotte Mining’s new all-in-one utility vehicle and Minewise Technologies’ camera probes for inspecting abandoned shafts.
The Sudbury and area mining cluster with its critical mass of suppliers, contractors, engineering firms, research centres, and educational institutions is a repository of mining challenges. Connect with us at MINExpo 2012, subscribe to Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal and explore our career opportunities. We are your indispensable go-to centre for mining expertise.