The mining industry has its ups and downs, commodity prices rise and fall, exploration capital turns on and off like a tap, but nothing seems to get in the way of innovation. Centimetre by centimetre, inch by inch, the bright lights of Northern Ontario’s mining hub continue to think up and introduce new technology solutions to increase productivity and make mining safer and more environmentally-friendly.
In this issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, we lead off with a story about a remote loading solution developed by boutique technology solution provider TesMan. In January 2012, 47-year-old Vale miner Stephen Perry was struck and killed by a 14-tonne wedge of rock that dislodged from the face on the 4,215-foot level of Coleman Mine in Sudbury. In a tribute to Perry and his family, co-workers and mine management at Coleman promised to spearhead the development of a solution that would allow miners to clean and load blastholes from a safe distance. Vale, Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations and the Province of Ontario’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation came up with the necessary funding and turned to TesMan to fulfill the promise. The final, commercial product, scheduled for release by September, will keep miners 14 feet away from the face and eliminate a hazard that has taken the lives of too many miners around the world.
Falling commodity prices and the scarcity of capital have taken their toll on exploration companies with promising discoveries, as well as on operating mines looking to increase their reserves. The only way to prove the value of an orebody is through infill drilling, which requires money and lots of it. Andrew Dasys, president of Objectivity, was sure there was a better, more cost-efficient way to plan infill drill holes and came up with a data analysis solution called DRX, short for Drilling, Reporting and Targeting. Using DRX, exploration and mining companies can move more ground into the all-important indicated and measured categories with fewer drill holes and save a bundle in the process.
Also in this issue, we report on the introduction of the new and improved Miner Operated Survey System (MOSS) by Northern Survey Supply. Developed years ago by a Falconbridge employee Bernie Smith and still in use at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South and Raglan mines, MOSS allows miners to stay true to the mine plan by calculating overbreak and underbreak round by round. 3D scans and images can be communicated to geologists on surface in real time, surveyors don’t have to make as many trips down to the development headings and miners have the instrumentation they need to adhere to the mine plan. According to Bruno Lalonde of Northern Survey Supply, MOSS pays for itself within 82 metres of development.
This issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal also reports on the introduction of a suite of new teleoperation products by Hard-Line Solutions, the introduction of battery-powered scissor bolters by MacLean Engineering and the development of a compact, environmentally friendly water and solids separator for core drilling by Premier Mining Products of North Bay.
Is there another hub of mining innovation that compares? You tell me!