Variant Mining Technologies partners with Clayton Equipment
Sudbury chute manufacturer appointed rail haulage manufacturer for North America
Variant Mining Technologies of Sudbury has been appointed the exclusive supplier, service provider and North American manufacturer for Clayton Equipment, a U.K.-based manufacturer of underground rail haulage solutions for the mining and tunneling industries.
Co-owned by Sudbury-based Ionic Engineering and Carriere Industrial Supply, Variant Mining Technologies manufactures chutes, arc gates, vibratory feeders and loading pockets.
Clayton Equipment was looking for a consortium partner for a large project they were chasing in China and needed someone to provide the loading solutions for them,” said Variant general manager Paul Chamberland.
Search engine optimization proved instrumental in bringing the two companies together as Variant comes up as the number one result in Google searches for mining chutes.
“We had a number of discussions and it became evident that there were a lot of synergies between the two companies,” said Chamberland. “We’re all about moving material from underground to surface, so it was a natural fit with our product offering and a natural extension of what we do.”
Clayton Equipment is a well-established rail haulage manufacturer, having sold more than 5,000 locomotives over its 80-year history. However, the company has had its struggles with representation in North America – especially in relation to supporting its newer technologies, said Chamberland.
“It was a challenge for them finding someone who could support their equipment to their satisfaction. We’re a good fit because we’re a technology-based company with extensive backing from our two parent companies.”
Ionic Engineering is a supplier of automation and robotics solutions for the global mining and mineral processing industry, while Carriere Industrial Supply specializes in innovative wear solutions and fabrication of buckets and truck bodies. The U.K. manufacturer has focused primarily on Europe and Asia over the years, but has approximately 50 customers in Canada alone with anywhere from two to 20 locomotives, said Chamberland.
Included in that number are Vale, which has 20 Clayton Equipment locomotives at Creighton Mine, and Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, which operates three Clayton Equipment locomotives at Fraser Mine.
According to Chamberland, underground rail haulage is ideal for long, lateral transportation, and is more economic than truck haulage.
Clayton locomotives can be supplied to operate on diesel, electric or battery power, although “there’s a big trend toward more environmentally-friendly electric power in underground applications because of the relief it gives to the ventilation system,” said Chamberland.
Variant will provide a full range of service – from spare parts and on-site maintenance to sales and manufacturing. Variant’s own engineering and manufacturing capabilities will be supported by Carriere Industrial’s state-ofthe-art fabricating infrastructure and Ionic Engineering’s expertise in control systems, “so it’s entirely a collaborative effort,” said Chamberland. “Having someone put together some steel plates is one thing, but putting the smarts together is different.
“We’re extremely excited about the prospect of incorporating rail haulage as part of our total solution. We are now able to provide full turnkey automated mining systems that include rail haulage, load-out systems, vibratory feeders and conveyor systems – anything related to bringing ore from underground to surface.”