Rail-veyor celebrates first full-scale deployment
Agnico-Eagle commits to innovative material handling solution for Goldex Deep 1 project
Rail-Veyor Technologies Global Inc. of Sudbury has signed a contract to install a rail-veyor material handling system at Agnico Eagle’s Goldex Mine in Val d’Or, Quebec.
A cross between a railroad and a conveyor system, the rail-veyor is a train of cars 30 inches wide and eight feet long propelled by foam filled tires in contact with the cars’ side plates at drive stations along the track.
A three-kilometre line will transport ore through a ramp from Goldex’s DX and D zones between 850 and 1200 metres depth up a 17 per cent grade to shaft bottom 865 metres from surface, at which point the ore will be crushed and skipped to surface.
The rail-veyor offers Agnico Eagle several advantages over conventional material handling options, said Rail-Veyor vice-president of sales and marketing Frank Ward.
The rail-veyor is able to handle the twists and turns of ramp access and is electrically powered. “If they went with the conveyor system, they’d have to go in a straight line as much as possible,” said Ward. And, unlike haul trucks, the rail-veyor produces no harmful diesel emissions.
The system will include 396 cars in six trains. Chutes will be used to load the cars and dumping will occur near shaft bottom as the cars turn upside down from an elevated loop.
Operators on surface will monitor the system with the assistance of cameras positioned along the line.
There was a surface demonstration of the rail-veyor at Vale’s Stobie Mine in 2008 and another underground trial at Vale’s 114 Orebody in 2012, but the deployment at Agnico Eagle’s Goldex Mine marks the first full-scale commercial application of the technology for the Sudbury company.
“We are also looking at quite a few other opportunities all over North America,” said Ward. “What’s held us up in getting this first system in place is what’s happened to the mining market and commodities. This is when you really need to have a game changing technology to reduce the cost of material handling, but a lot of the big mining companies stagnate on making decisions when things are so volatile.”
Since the trial at the 114 Orebody, the company has worked hard to upgrade the technology.
“We’ve really reinvented the rail-veyor,” said Ward. “We’ve been able to take some costs out and make it more reliable, durable and cost-effective.”
The Goldex Mine went into operation in 2008, shut down in October 2011 and resumed production in September 2013. Based on a positive internal technical study, Agnico Eagle approved the Goldex Deep 1 project for the development of the DX and D zones in July 2015.
The mine is expected to produce more than 100,000 ounces of gold annually from 2018 to 2024 from the DX and D zones. Capital expenditures for the Deep 1 project are forecasted at $135 million to $140 million, including the cost of the rail-veyor.