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Bluhm Burton opens Sudbury office

February 23, 2016
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News
Stephen Hardcastle appointed managing director.

Stephen Hardcastle appointed managing director.

South African mining engineering consulting group Bluhm Burton Engineering has opened an office in Sudbury to serve its Canadian client base and hired Dr. Stephen Hardcastle, formerly head of mine ventilation research and senior research scientist at CANMET Mining, a division of Natural Resources Canada.

Hardcastle, who has a Bachelor’s degree in mining engineering and a PhD in mine environmental research from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, joined Natural Resources Canada 33 years ago.

“It was the early 80s and the federal government was looking to expand mining research,” recalled Hardcastle. “There was a shortage of personnel in the Canadian market, so they came recruiting to the UK.”

Hardcastle began his career at a CANMET research facility in Elliot Lake, and was transferred to Sudbury when the uranium mines there shut down.

For the last 20 years, he has worked closely with industry to help make mines more energy efficient while maintaining or improving health and safety for miners. More recently, he managed a suite of heat stress projects on behalf of the Canadian Deep Mining Research Consortium and led the research aspects of a ventilation on-demand initiative for the Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation.

Johannesburg-based Bluhm Burton Engineering is an international leader in mine ventilation, refrigeration, cooling, energy and health and safety. The group offers a wide range of services, including surveys and audits of ventilation and cooling systems, analyses of alternative ventilation and cooling technologies and detailed engineering specifications.

The company has an international client base and has worked with Vale, Glencore, Agnico-Eagle, Golder Associates, SRK Consulting and J.L. Richards in Canada.

Having an office in Sudbury will allow Bluhm Burton Engineering to better serve its Canadian clients, said Hardcastle.

The industry’s interest in new ventilation, cooling and energy technologies is driven by the increasing cost of electricity, concern about the impact of diesel particulates on the health and safety of miners, and the increasing depth of mining operations.

“The industry is transitioning from brute force to finesse,” said Hardcastle. “If we are going to remain competitive on a global scale, we need to address the inefficiencies in our current systems.”

Pointing to ventilation management systems at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine, Vale’s Totten Mine, Goldcorp’s Eleonore operation and Kirkland Lake Gold’s adoption of battery powered haul trucks and LHDs, Hardcastle noted that changes are happening, but that there is still opportunity to do much more.

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