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Sudbury to host international conference

Sudbury will host its biggest mining conference ever June 11 to 14 when an estimated 750 delegates from 30 or more countries arrive in the city for MassMin 2012, the 6th international conference and exhibition on mass mining.The first MassMin conference, held in Johannesburg in 1992, was held to begin sharing best practices related to mass mining, said conference co-chair Greg Baiden, a professor of robotics and mine automation at Laurentian University.“There was a recognition that a lot of the world’s metal was coming from large open pits and those open pits were becoming depleted. Companies like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Codelco, LKB and Freeport-McMoRanrealized the industry was going to have to go underground and wanted a technical conference to share ideas on the transition.“They wanted to have operating costs similar to [those of] open pits, so a lot of the techniques discussed at the conference are all about very, very, low cost methods of mining,” said Baiden.These methods include block caving, panel caving, sub-level caving and open stoping.Very little mass mining is done in Canada, so the conference in Sudbury will be an excellent opportunity for knowledge transfer, said Baiden, who is also chairman and chief technology officer of Sudbury-based Penguin Automated Systems Inc.“We have huge tracts of minerals sitting around Sudbury that could be mined using mass mining techniques, but we have chosen to go deeper for now. Eventually, that resource will run its course because the deeper you go, the costlier it is to mine. At some point, we’ll want to go after some of those large low-grade deposits, and low grade by our standards today is high grade by mass mining standards.”

The second MassMin conference was held in Brisbane in 2000. Since then, the event has been held every four years. Santiago, Chile, hosted it in 2004 and Lulea, Sweden in 2008.

Baiden submitted a bid on behalf of Canada in 2004, and Sudbury was confirmed as the host city for the 2012 conference at a meeting of the MassMin international steering committee in Lulea.

The four-day event will feature a technical program with up to 170 papers, a pre-conference short course on robotics and mine automation on June 10th, field trips, social programs and a trade show.

The event will be held at Laurentian University and is being organized by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).

The conference website and online registration forms can be accessed from the CIM home page at


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