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Ultra Deep Mining Network all fired up

May 20, 2015
by Norm Tollinsky
In: Research

$46 million R&D initiative gives green light to 28 projects


The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation’s (CEMI) Ultra Deep Mining Network (UDMN) has committed to funding 28 research and development projects to address challenges posed by mining at depths in excess of 2.5

Funding for the program includes a $15 million grant from the Canadian government’s Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program and $31 million in cash and in-kind contributions from mining companies, suppliers and other entities for a total of $46 million.

The original application to the federal government’s Centres of Excellence program included 20 “shovel-ready” R&D projects from network members.

“But we knew that wasn’t going to be enough to allocate all of our funding and solve all of the deep mining challenges we identified, so we issued a pan-Canadian call for proposals in October,” said UDMN managing director Bora Ugurgel.

Both existing network members and non-members were invited to submit expressions of interest.

Call for proposals

The call for proposals generated 65 applications from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), suppliers, academia, research institutes and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) across the country.

The deep mining challenges proponents were asked to address included rock stress risk reduction, energy optimization, faster advance rates and the mitigation of adverse impacts of heat stress on worker wellbeing and productivity.

Proponents were encouraged to collaborate with industry and academia to deliver and ultimately commercialize deep mining tools and technologies capable of addressing deep mining

Twenty-four of the 65 proponents, including 20 SMEs, three academic institutions and one OEM, were asked to move to the next stage and submit a more detailed proposal.

“Twelve of the projects made the final cutoff and, of the 12, we gave the go-ahead to eight proponents,” said Ugurgel. “We’re not certain that we have the
funding for the remaining four, so we’re still in negotiations with them.”

With the 20 projects submitted as part of the original application to the federal government’s Centres of Excellence program, the UDMN has now approved a total of 28 projects.

Members have three years to complete their work, but the UDMN is funded for a five year-period ending in 2019.

Sudbury mining supply and service companies with UDMN projects are also benefiting from a separate $1 million Commercial Attainment Program (CAP) funded by the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation.

The $1 million fund will be administered by CEMI’s Innovation and Prosperity Office, and will assist Sudbury SMEs with the commercialization of deep mining solutions developed as a result of their UDMN projects.

Payable in installments of $200,000 over a five-year period, the fund supplements the current IPO’s mandate for working with Sudbury area mining suppliers, said IPO director Eric Maag.

The IPO helps mining suppliers with demonstration projects, the integration of their products and solutions into the workplace and with market development.

Best cluster

Sudbury has great service and supply companies – “the best cluster in the world,” said Maag – but they don’t always have the sales and business development expertise to get the products out the door.

The IPO, which was partially funded by the GSDC in 2010 and renewed for a five-year term the following year, has to date been working with eight mining supply and service companies. The $1 million in funding approved by Sudbury City Council April 15th will allow the IPO to provide enhanced consulting services to 12 additional Sudbury area companies with projects under the UDMN umbrella.

Northern Ontario area mining supply and service companies that are members of UDMN include Jannatec Technologies, Ionic Engineering, Symboticware, Itasca Consulting, Cementation, Labreque Technologies and Kovit Engineering.

Several area mining companies are also UDMN members, including Vale, KGHM International, Iamgold and Glencore operations in Timmins and Sudbury.

Ten colleges and universities, several research institutions and mining supply and service companies across Canada are also network members.

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