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Hurley Ventilation expands to mine air heaters

May 23, 2016
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News
One of two mine air heaters for Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson Mine in Matachewan under construction at the Hurley Group in Sudbury.

One of two mine air heaters for Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson Mine in Matachewan under construction at the Hurley Group in Sudbury.

Hurley Ventilation Technologies, a Sudbury-based manufacturer of fans, has spun off a new company to focus on the manufacture of mine air heaters.

“Customers are looking for a turnkey solution,” said Dan Hurley, president of the Hurley Group. “They want the fans, the electrical system, and the mine air heater.”

The startup of Hurley Industrial Thermal Technologies Inc. (HITT) provides the company with the one component it was missing.

Hurley’s move into the mine air heater business followed the termination of mine air heater manufacturing in Canada when Eclipse Inc. and its owner, Elster Thermal Technologies, were acquired by Honeywell in December.

“That left a void in the marketplace,” said Hurley. “Eclipse had a very good name in the business, so we entered into an OEM agreement with Honeywell.”

The Sudbury company also recruited Eclipse employee Denis Cloutier, a mechanical engineer with 20 plus years of experience in the heater design and manufacturing industry.

HITT is only a few months old, but already has four orders, including one for Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine in Matachewan.

A new building equipped to manufacture the mine air heaters was completed in April.

The mine air heaters most in demand today are fueled by either propane or natural gas and range in power from 10 million to 20 million BTUs.

A typical installation on surface consists of two fans, said Hurley. “If one fails, a mine can still operate with one fan. If a mine needs 40 million BTUs, we’ll provide two units of 20 million BTUs rather than one humungous unit.”

The Hurley Group has come a long way since its founding in 1976. It has 20,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space and employs 53 people. It manufactures fans from one to 1,250 horsepower and from 12 inches all the way up to 120 inches in diameter.

With the decision by Howden Alphair Ventilating Systems to cease manufacturing mine ventilation fans in Winnipeg earlier this year, Hurley is now the only manufacturer of mine fans in Canada.

Originally focused on the Sudbury Basin, Hurley now sells its fans across Canada and the U.S. and exports to Chile, Peru and Mongolia.

Much of the company’s success is attributable to Northern Ontario-based mining contractors like Redpath, Cementation and Dumas, who win contracts around the world and specify Hurley products.

“The mining fraternity is close-knit, so if you provide the service, they tend to stick with you,” said Hurley, who is 71 and has no interest in slowing down.

The company prides itself on the quality of its workmanship and subjects every fan to rigorous testing prior to shipment.

Another secret to Hurley’s success is its vendor management program, which ensures a supply of replacement units and the speedy delivery of fans and components as required.

In Sudbury, Hurley is able to deliver a replacement fan within four hours. The turnaround time for more distant customers like Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mine may be three days, but in most cases, that’s well before the defective unit has been brought up to surface, said Hurley.

“Turnaround time is critical because the failure of a fan could halt production,” he noted.

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