Tag Archives: Canada

Herrenknecht heralds ‘game changer for shaft sinking in soft and medium-hard rock’

Having successfully excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts using Shaft Boring Roadheaders (SBRs) at the BHP-owned Jansen potash project, Herrenknecht is leveraging all the lessons it learnt in Saskatchewan, Canada, to ensure this technology proves to be a “game changer” for the sinking of shafts in soft and medium-hard rock.

Mining contractor DMC Mining Services used two SBRs to excavate the blind shafts at Jansen, with the successful project completion acting as proof of the feasibility and advantages of the Herrenknecht SBR concept for the mining industry, according to the Germany-based company.

In August 2018, the mining industry milestone was achieved with the successful completion of two blind shafts to depths of -975 and -1,005 m, respectively, at the Jansen potash project. For the first time, shafts in the mining business were sunk using only mechanical excavation for this reference project.

Two Herrenknecht SBRs excavated the ground by a partial-face cutting method, using a cutting drum mounted on a telescopic boom. The excavated rock was then conveyed from the bench by an innovative pneumatic mucking system (PNM) and transferred into muck buckets to be hoisted to surface, the company said.

An innovative laser navigation system designed by the Herrenknecht subsidiary, VMT Group, using target units mounted on the SBR and lasers connected to the shaft wall, was used to keep the machines on track.

Herrenknecht, with its experience as a technology leader in mechanised tunnelling, developed the SBR for the mechanised sinking of blind shafts in soft to medium-hard rock. Based on the proven technology of the Herrenknecht Vertical Shaft Sinking Machine (VSM), the SBR offers improved safety performance compared with conventional shaft sinking methods while also achieving higher advance rates, according to the company.

The geological conditions at Jansen, however, were anything but easy. At a depth of around 450 m, the SBR encountered a layer of extremely hard competent rock causing excessive pick wear and low rates of advance. To overcome this and some further hardness challenges, the cutting drum was upgraded to a hard-rock cutting drum and torque output was doubled.

Because an existing high-pressure underground waterway, known as the Blairmore aquifer, posed a risk for water ingress into the shaft, ground freezing was executed temporarily in 2011 by BHP to a depth of approximately 650 m.

A major success in this difficult geology was the use of a mechanical ring erector, which allowed the installation of steel tubbing segments with minimal risk to personnel and a high degree of accuracy, according to Herrenknecht. The steel liner rings were installed through the Blairmore aquifer to assist in the development of a composite steel and concrete watertight liner in both shafts.

Since the project-specific design changes at Jansen required modifications to the SBRs, Herrenknecht, together with contractor DMC Mining Services, refined the SBR technology over the long term. The result is the second generation of Herrenknecht SBR technology.

As an example, the second generation SBR is equipped with an additional stabilisation level that allows the fixation of the SBR centre pipe on both ends. This ensures a stable transfer of the reaction forces from the cutting process to the shaft wall without movement of the machine – even with fluctuating excavation diameter of 8-11 m, as encountered at the Jansen potash project.

In addition to an improved filter system, a new design of the PNM system was installed in the second-generation machine, which results in a higher degree of separation in the suction tank itself, allowing wet material and even water to be handled.

Martin-Devid Herrenknecht, General Manager Mining at Herrenknecht, said: “The technical development of the second SBR generation is based on the lessons learnt from the Jansen project.” Two SBRs of this generation are currently in operation in Belarus and achieving good performance as a result of the improvements made, Herrenknecht said. “This pioneering approach is certainly a game changer for shaft sinking in soft and medium-hard rock, impacting the whole mining industry,” he said.

After the successful excavation at Jansen, another task was to be managed: the disassembly of the huge machines in the deep shafts. To remove the SBR from the shaft bottom, it was necessary to reduce the weight of the machine from 390 t to 340 t. This was achieved by stripping all components off the SBR that were in the excavation chamber. Both SBRs were safely extracted from the two shafts at the Jansen potash project in May 2019.

The Jansen potash project, located approximately 140 km east of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is a BHP-owned future potential potash mine with an expected initial mining output of around 3-4.5 Mt/y with valuable expansion options.

BME builds blasting connections in North America

BME says continued lethargy in the global economy – aggravated by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus – did not dampen the enthusiasm of the South Africa-based blasting leader’s review of the recent Prospectors and Developers Association Conference (PDAC) in Toronto, Canada.

BME was at the show, which took place on March 1-4, showcasing its brand and global presence, including in North America.

BME General Manager Technology and Marketing, Ralf Hennecke, said: “This year was particularly exciting for us to be exhibiting, following the launch of BME Mining Canada Inc last year – our joint venture with Consbec, the largest civils drill and blast contractor in Canada.

“There was considerable excitement among the decision makers and businesses we met about the entry of another experienced player into the region’s explosives and blasting market.”

Hennecke said the mood at the Toronto gathering was buoyed by a gradual uptick in exploration projects and several mine expansions – even though the outlook for most base metals was conservative.

“It was pleasing to see that Canada was in the top three exploration performers globally, which bodes well for the country’s mining future,” he said.

He noted many of the mining companies represented at the event also had operations in BME strongholds like West Africa, even operating in other BME territories such as Southeast Asia. The company’s globalisation strategy was also paving the way for greater future involvement in global mining tenders, he said.

“Events like PDAC allow us to steadily build links in new territories like North America, leveraging the relationships we already have with majors and juniors in that market,” Hennecke said. “In addition to prospective mining customers, we also regularly meet a range of important service providers and contractors with whom we might work in future.”

Emphasising BME’s commitment to collaboration in the market – especially in the digital and technological space – he said these links were increasingly important to facilitate the integration of technologies in the interest of more productive mining.

“Mines are looking to synergise their supply chains to ensure they benefit optimally from the various services and product developments,” he said. “This means that technology providers must have the capacity to continuously integrate their offerings into customers’ systems – even collaborating with other technology providers to do so. This integration is vital to allow mines to harness the power of new innovations.”

Newmont withdraws 2020 guidance as four mines go into care and maintenance mode

Newmont says it is withdrawing its full-year 2020 guidance after placing four of its operations into temporary care and maintenance mode in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said these actions could see some production deferred into 2021, potentially impacting costs in 2020 if the suspensions continue for an extended period. This meant its guidance of 6.4 Moz of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $975/oz for 2020, given in early January, would no longer stand.

For the March quarter, Newmont said it expected to produce some 1.4 Moz of attributable gold and around 325,000 of “co-product gold equivalent ounces”. Year-to-date through February 29, Newmont had produced around 981,000 oz of attributable gold and some 227,000 co-product gold equivalent ounces, it said.

“Newmont continues to work proactively with logistics partners and refiners to transport and refine product in a challenging environment,” it said. “We are not currently experiencing significant delays in the shipping of concentrate or transportation and refining of doré, but they may occur in the coming days and weeks if certain government-required shutdowns and border restrictions occur.”

Mines representing around 80% of the company’s production outlook for 2020 continue operating in line with production targets for the year, it said. These operations have implemented heightened levels of health screening, along with support services being conducted remotely.

“If at any point the company determines that continuing operations poses an increased risk to our workforce or host communities, we will reduce operational activities up to and including care and maintenance and management of critical environmental systems,” the company added.

Yet, in order to protect nearby communities and align with travel restrictions or health considerations in Argentina, Canada and Peru, four of its operations are being temporarily put into care and maintenance.

“The operations will be positioned so they can safely and quickly resume normal operations once protective measures have been lifted,” the company said.

The operations being placed into care and maintenance mode includ:

  • Musselwhite: Newmont has decided to limit personnel on site to minimise fly-in/fly-out activity to prevent the possible transmission of the virus into communities, including nearby First Nations communities in northern Ontario – essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management and provide security;
  • Eléonore (pictured: Credit Osisko Gold Royalties): Newmont has decided to limit personnel on site to comply with the Quebec government’s restriction on non-essential travel within the province and to prevent the possible transmission of the virus into communities, including nearby First Nations communities – essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management and provide security;
  • Cerro Negro: Newmont will have to limit personnel on site due to the halt of all domestic flights and mass transportation in Argentina through March 31 – remaining on site will be essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management, provide security and continue ground control activities; and
  • Yanacocha: As previously disclosed, mining operations were in the process of safely ramping down due to government travel restrictions in-country, while gold production from leach pads and critical safety, security and environmental management activities continue

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Newmont, said: “Our business continuity plans and rapid response teams have been fully mobilised in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“We are working closely with host communities, First Nations and other indigenous peoples, regional and national governments and health experts to protect our workforce and nearby communities. This includes putting some operations temporarily into care and maintenance while others continue to operate at targeted production levels.

“We are also making sure that these short-term disruptions do not impact long-term business value while ensuring we are well-positioned to safely and efficiently ramp-up operations in a timely manner once the worst of this global pandemic passes.”

Measures taken at Newmont operations and offices globally include:

  • Cancelling all non-essential travel;
  • Enhanced temperature and questionnaire screening at entry points to sites;
  • Establishing flexible and remote working plans for employees;
  • Establishing screening for fly-in-fly-out employees prior to their departures from their home communities;
  • Mandatory self-quarantine for anyone who has travelled internationally or has any flu-like symptoms;
  • Providing logistical and health care support to nearby communities where needed; and
  • Established a global supply chain task force to assess all potential risks and develop viable contingency plans that enable us to stay ahead of any potential supply disruptions.

Vale to ramp down Voisey’s Bay nickel mine for a month

Vale has become the latest miner to react to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, saying it has taken the decision to ramp down its Voisey’s Bay nickel mining operation, in Canada, and place it on care and maintenance for a period of four weeks.

The move is a precaution to help protect the health and wellbeing of Nunatsiavut and Innu indigenous communities in Labrador in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said. This is all part of the company’s plans to safeguard its employees, businesses and communities surrounding its operations from the threats posed by the outbreak.

Other miners such as Newmont, Anglo American and Rio Tinto have also reacted to the virus outbreak by either slowing down development projects (Oyu Tolgoi Underground and Quellaveco) or ramping down existing mines (Yanacocha).

Vale said: “Although none of our employees has tested positive for coronavirus at any of Vale’s global operations, Vale has taken this preventive action because of the unique remoteness of that area, with fly-in and fly-out operations, with higher exposure to travel.”

The company said it will work together with the communities and authorities to ensure its operations do not act as a “catalyst to inadvertently introduce the virus in these communities”.

Operations at Vale’s open-pit mine and concentrator at Voisey’s Bay in Labrador began in 2005. This 6,000 t/d facility produces two types of concentrate: nickel-cobalt-copper concentrate and copper concentrate. Nickel concentrate produced at Voisey’s Bay is currently processed at the hydrometallurgical processing facility in Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

While the mining operation will shut down, the Long Harbour Processing Plant (LHPP) will continue to operate, Vale said. Nickel and cobalt production should not be affected given the availability of stockpiled concentrates to feed the LHPP well past the four-week care and maintenance period, but copper concentrate production at site will be reduced proportionally in line with the period of the mine stoppage (Voisey’s Bay produced 25,000 t of copper concentrate in 2019), it said. The decision also impacts on the Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion project, which is currently underway to transition to underground operations.

Vale also said that, due to travel and equipment transportation restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is revisiting its plans for the Mozambique coal processing plants stoppage. The halting of operations was previously expected to start in the June quarter of this year, with a new date under evaluation. This could ultimately affect coal production guidance for 2020, it said.

Due to the outbreak, the great majority of Vale’s and third-party employees based in its corporate offices are, from today, working from home. “The measure aims to safeguard our employees, reducing the number of people in the same workspace and the exposure to public spaces, such as buses, subways and elevators,” it said.

CIM 2020 looks to ‘mine the gap’

The CIM 2020 Convention is set to gather more than 5,000 participants in Vancouver, Canada – for knowledge sharing, business and networking.

The four-day schedule consists of a line-up of expertly-led workshops, three full days of technical presentations divided in eight different and innovative themes ranging from operating challenges and solutions to porphyry deposits of the Cordilleras, great networking opportunities, a complete student/young leaders’ program, and a world-acclaimed trade show, the organisers say.

The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) calls itself the leading not-for-profit technical society of professionals in the Canadian minerals, metals, materials and energy industries. “We have been bringing professionals and experts of the minerals industry together for 123 years,” it says.
“This year’s convention will revolve around the theme “Mine the_Gap”, whether it’s the knowledge, networking, innovation or business gap,” CIM said.

The program will kick-off on Monday, May 4, with CIM’s signature Plenary. “Sophisticated technology, artificial intelligence and their performance metrics – within or outside the mining sector – can position mining as the industry to benchmark against at this time of disruption,” CIM said, adding that the Plenary will approach innovation with a focus on empirical results – or proven technology.

“Which countries achieve better underground performance metrics? Can their practices be effectively transported? How can mining rapidly adopt the successes of the energy sector? What lessons have been learned in mining the oil sands? CIM members will be exposed to cutting edge views on our sector,” the organisers said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, May 5 and 6, the Technical Program will help mine the knowledge gap, CIM said. The program will start early with a 45-minute general keynote session taking place in the general room to hear “inspiring experts share their visions of the future of mining”, CIM said.

They will then head to eight streams to sit in on a diverse selection of technical presentations, each with an overarching theme and a lineup of sessions relevant to wide audiences. More than 300 presenters will captivate an audience of plus-1,200 conference delegates gathered to learn, exchange knowledge and focus on the future, CIM said.

The CIM EXPO, one of Canada’s premier mining trade show opens on Sunday, May 3. It will once again feature around 450 companies showcasing the latest in mining equipment, tools, technology, services and products.

“You will not want to miss out on Canada’s leading Mining Marketplace,” CIM said. “In addition to the trade show, the Innovation stage will give trade show visitors a taste of the technical program taking place in the conference rooms.”

Young Leaders will also have a home at CIM, with student registration providing access to the full delegate package. Also, several activities are planned for young leaders, early career professionals and students to network. “The Newbie Lounge at the Expo will provide them with learning and mentorship opportunities,” CIM said.

“A myriad of social activities has been planned to maximise your networking opportunities and make your convention memorable. From the opening ceremony to the closing reception, participants will want to plan for networking receptions, industry lunches, evening galas and celebrations and much more.”

Mine the_Gap! is about getting increasingly closer to exemplary practices. Register early, reserve your event tickets and mark your calendar at www.convention.cim.org.

International Mining is a media sponsor of the CIM 2020 Convention

Barrick tasks Barminco with turning Hemlo into Tier Two UG gold mine

More than four months after Barrick Gold announced it intended to phase out open-pit mining and move to an underground contract mining model at its Hemlo operations in Ontario, Canada, a contract miner has been named.

Perenti confirmed its underground hard-rock contract mining subsidiary, Barminco, had received the nod from the gold miner, being issued a letter of intent to provide underground contract mining services at the mine, which has produced more than 21 Moz of gold over 30 years of operation.

Under the proposed three-year, circa-A$200 million ($131 million) mining services contract, Barminco will “bring industry-leading technology and productivity to Hemlo in support of Barrick’s goal to modernise and improve the performance of the mine and establish it as a Tier Two asset within its group”, ASX-listed Perenti said.

Barrick previously said the modernisation and refocusing plan at Hemlo was designed to turn it into a Tier Two asset with a life of mine well into the future.

Barminco’s scope includes undertaking mine development, production and haulage, using mining equipment provided by Barrick. Up until recently there was a significant degree of autonomy in the Hemlo fleet including trucks and LHDs from Sandvik and Epiroc.

Barminco said it anticipates employing more than 300 people at the operation, with works commencing in April.

Perenti Group Managing Director, Mark Norwell, said the contract award was another significant step in the group’s international growth strategy to enter attractive and stable mining jurisdictions.

“This is Barminco and Perenti’s first significant contract in North America and builds on our regional growth capabilities, after expanding into Botswana last year with an A$800 million contract. We look forward to supporting Barrick to deliver outstanding results at Hemlo,” he said.

Underground Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “We are thrilled to be in a position to support Barrick to improve the performance of the Hemlo mine. We intend to work very closely with Barrick and all key stakeholders, including the incumbent workforce at Hemlo, the Pic River and Pic Mobert First Nations people and the Marathon community more generally to deliver a sustainable improvement in performance, thereby assuring the future of Hemlo.”

Zero-emission vehicle incentives coming to Canada’s mining sector

Canada is to extend its existing zero emission vehicle incentive to include off-road vehicles, providing a boost for the country’s mining sector at a time when it is looking to decarbonise operations.

In an announcement at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Canada, taking place this week, the government said the move was predicated on helping Canada achieve its climate goals and keep its industries competitive.

This incentive would provide a 100% write-off of the purchase cost of eligible zero-emission vehicles and automotive equipment in the year they are put into use, the government said. It builds on the temporary incentives announced in the 2019 budget for on-road vehicles.

“Canadians expect their government to take ambitious action to protect our environment, while growing our economy and creating new jobs and opportunities for workers and businesses,” the government said. “To do this, we must support measures to accelerate Canada’s clean energy transition and help our businesses adopt the sustainable technologies of the future.”

It added: “This new incentive would encourage businesses, including in sectors like mining, transportation, and agriculture, to take advantage of opportunities to upgrade to newer, cleaner technologies.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said: “We are supporting businesses that are making investments today to help protect our environment for future generations. By making it more affordable for Canadian businesses to make the switch to zero-emission technologies, we can help accelerate our transition to a low-carbon, clean-growth economy and create good middle-class jobs.”

Under this new incentive, to be eligible for an income tax deduction of 100%, vehicles would need to be available for use before 2024. The deduction allowance would decrease to 75% for 2024 and 2025, and would decrease to 55% for 2026 and 2027. Vehicles not available for use before 2028 would not be eligible for the accelerated deduction allowance, the government said.

Trelleborg expansion barrels keep slurry moving at Canada oil sands mine

Trelleborg is helping improve uptime at a major oil sands mine in Alberta, Canada, through the delivery of rubber-lined expansion barrels.

Due to the size of the operation, oil sands slurry and sediments must travel long distances in the mine’s pipeline system. The mine, therefore, chose Trelleborg’s expansion barrels, which enable the thermal expansion and compression of pipelines, to facilitate extended periods of travel in extreme temperatures at the mine.

This removed the mine’s need for frequent maintenance and consequent downtime caused by extensive wear on the barrel, Trelleborg said.

“The expansion barrels, which were tested over a four-year period at the mine, are flexible in all directions, so they can compensate for the thermal expansion and lateral deflection in a pipe system,” the company said. This enabled the pumps, which circulate the slurry throughout the system, to be protected against load forces and allow for a safe expansion and compression.

Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine and infrastructure operation, which delivered the solution, said: “Testing proved that slurry was able to travel for 24,000 hours in the pipe without maintenance, equating to approximately three years, as opposed to around 4,000 hours, which non-expanding barrels often provide.

“With temperatures across certain parts of our mine reaching as low as -46°C, downtime can compromise the safety of our people during maintenance.”

He added: “With our in-house expertise and mining knowledge, we knew we could supply equipment to meet the demands of the mine’s environmental and business challenges, while providing a solution that can compensate for two or three expansion joints and allow for easy mounting and inspecting.”

The configuration of Trelleborg’s barrel, which can successfully operate in temperatures between -46°C and 90°C – and has an expansion/compression range of 910 mm – was successfully patented in Canada in 2012. The barrel also provides an installation hydraulic ram as a feature for simpler maintenance and rotation.

Hatch Engineering joins Geomega team focused on rare earths recycling

Geomega Resources and its subsidiary Innord have added Hatch Engineering to its engineering group to advance the development and prepare for constructing the first rare earth magnet recycling plant outside of Asia.

This engineering work on the demonstration plant in St Bruno, Quebec, will be funded 50% by additional funds from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Geomega says.

Hatch is a multidiscipline engineering group with a strong presence in Quebec, Canada. It has expertise in rare earth and other industrial minerals processing, industrial and chemical construction and development, permitting and many other fields which Geomega is now entering into.

Kiril Mugerman, President and CEO of Geomega, said: “Hatch has taken part in some of the most complex recent mining and processing projects in Canada and globally, and is well suited to bring Geomega its technical and project delivery expertise to this demonstration plant project.

“With a strong engineering partner, government support and significant interest in the rare earth sector today globally, we are very excited to develop the first rare earths magnet recycling facility outside of Asia right here in Quebec, Canada.”

He added that other major milestones will be announced in the near future as the company puts forward its strategy to develop the rare earths magnet recycling facility in St Bruno.

Based in Montreal, Geomega Resources has developed a proprietary in-situ recovery technology that recycles rare earth elements, it says. The corporation is targeting 2020 for initial production from its demonstration plant.

IMDEX symposium sets the exploration scene for AME Roundup

IMDEX recently held its fifth annual Xploration Technology Symposium in Vancouver, Canada, in which virtual reality, machine learning and new exploration technologies all received significant airtime.

The event, held on January 17, came ahead of AME’s annual Mineral Exploration Roundup, also held in Vancouver, on January 20-23. It saw 16 speakers and 160 attendees turn up.

IMDEX, which has a suite of drilling optimisation products to improve the process of identifying and extracting mineral resources globally, said the event covered multi-element data, artificial intelligence for mineral exploration and exploration instrumentation, along with a series of case studies. The focus was on improving and driving innovation in the mining industry and providing a platform to share big ideas, new technologies and new processes in exploration.

International consulting practice, SRK, had Principal Structural Geologist, Wayne Barnett, present on virtual-mixed reality, where he discussed augmented visual powers to automatically measure surface orientations and how this technology is changing best practices in data collection and analysis, IMDEX said.

Professor Bern Klein, of the University of British Columbia, meanwhile, discussed industry research to optimise value and ensure worker safety in deep underground mass mining operations.

The use of machine learning for mineral exploration in greenfield areas was discussed by GoldSpot Discoveries Corp Chief Operating Officer, Vincent Dube-Bourgeois, during the session on artificial intelligence.

Among the exploration case studies was one from Chris Gallagher, Rogue Geoscience President, a company that has been instrumental in developing several exploration technologies and geological data management systems used in the industry today, according to IMDEX.

And, Nick Payne, Global Product Manager Structural Geology at IMDEX, in his presentation ‘A New Wave of Drilling Optimisation’, discussed new technologies IMDEX COREVIBE and IMDEX XTRACTA – which, he says, offer substantial improvements in safety and productivity.