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Full speed ahead at Totten Mine

September 1, 2009
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News with 0 Comments

Vale Inco operations in the Sudbury Basin were idled all summer – first by a production shutdown that was to last from June 1 to July 27, and then by a strike that began July 12th – but 35 kilometres west of Sudbury, the company is moving full speed ahead on its $450 million Totten Mine development project.

Totten, Vale Inco’s first new mine in the Sudbury Basin in 35 years, is on schedule for completion by the second quarter of 2011.

Inco sank two shafts at Totten Mine beginning in 1966, but never did any level development and mothballed the property because of low nickel prices in 1972, said John Sagman, project manager.

The company contracted AMEC’s Vancouver office to build a water treatment plant, pumped out 105 million gallons of water from the mine, demolished all of the surface infrastructure and installed a new hoist and headframe.

“AMEC is known around the world for their expertise with respect to designing water treatment plants,” said Sagman. “It’s a very efficient, state-of-the-art system.”

Once the mine is operational, 95 per cent of the treated water will be recycled for use underground. AMEC’s Sudbury office designed the earthworks.

A new 16.5-foot double drum Davey-Markham hoist has the capacity to lift 3,900 tonnes per 10.5-hour shift. One drum has a 17-tonne skip, the other a 15-tonne skip with an underslung cage.


Cementation Canada Inc., one of the principal contractors on site, was contracted to rehabilitate the shaft and sink two fresh air raises. An 18-foot diameter raise from 1850 Level to surface is the largest diameter raise bore hole in the Sudbury mining camp, and an eight-foot diameter raise descending 2,750 feet from the 1250 Level is the longest raise bore hole in the company’s history, said Sagman.

Both raises were constructed using the self-steering MICON Rotary-Vertical Drilling System (RVDS) that minimizes deviation in very long drill holes.

“When you’re drilling a long hole, it can wander 150 feet by the time it gets down to the bottom,” said Sagman. “With this technology, you might get eight inches of deviation. You can have $1 million worth of rods in the ground, and if you break them, that’s a lot of money, so you want the hole to be as vertical as possible. One hundred and fifty feet of deviation puts tremendous stress on your rods. The threads can snap on you pretty quick if they’re at a bad angle.”

The RVDS technology has been used before in Canada, but not by Vale Inco, said Sagman.

Lateral development

Cementation will wrap up the shaft rehabilitation work and loading pocket construction by October, at which time lateral development work will commence. Approximately 36,000 feet of lateral development is scheduled to be completed by May 2011.

Another major supplier, ABB, is providing a mine-wide, standardized power and automation solution, including a 69kV surface substation, switchgear and PLC systems.

According to Sagman, several new technologies are being considered for Totten Mine, including ventilation on demand, a rail-veyor material handling system (see Page 10) and a cutting-edge through-the-earth voice and data communication system developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Distributed in Sudbury by KPI Industrial, the so-called Vital Alert two-way radio technology has been successfully tested in underground coal mines, but never deployed in hard rock mining operations.

Sagman is planning to test the system at Totten Mine before the end of the year and has engaged Bestech, a Sudbury-based system integration and industrial automation company, to study the potential use of the Vital Alert system for other communication applications, including asset tracking and ventilation on demand.

The 2,200-tonne per day operation will create 150 jobs and has a projected mine life of 20 years.


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