The technology selected for a ventilation on demand pilot program at Inco's Creighton Mine is being supplied by Sling Choker Manufacturing of Sudbury.
Designed and developed by Delta Remote Control Systems (RCS) of Norway, the technology has been used in European tunneling for 10 years. The Creighton pilot, however, represents its first application in a mine.
"Delta has been working on tunneling projects for a number of years to address the high energy costs in Europe and provide ventilation to working areas, as opposed to assuming it's always required," said Sling Choker sales and marketing vice president Mark Andersen.
Promising energy savings of up to 50 per cent, the system measures air volume, temperature and quality, tracks people and machines and adjusts airflow to match actual requirements.
RFID tagging technology will be used to detect vehicles and employees and will be integrated with the Delta RCS ventilation on demand system.
The initial pilot will be conducted on Creighton's 7680-level and is expected to be operational in February.
"After that, we'll test it for three months and go from there," said Doug O'Connor, Creighton's senior ventilation supervisor.
"The components of the system are all proven technology," he added. "It's just a matter of putting them all together and making them do what we want."
O'Connor traveled to Norway and Sweden to see the technology in operation and was impressed.
"If we want to be competitive, we're going to have to control our energy costs," he said. "Ventilation is a big chunk of our total production costs and the deeper the mines go, the higher that goes."
The Creighton ventilation system consists of three 3,250 h.p. variable frequency drive exhaust fans that, together, pull 1.6 million cubic metres of air per
minute. At the front-end, Creighton has 10 intake fans ranging in size from 400 to 700 h.p.