Tag Archives: Canada

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.

Canada to launch strategic assessment for new thermal coal projects

Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, in partnership with Natural Resources Minister, Seamus O’Regan, have announced that Canada will launch a strategic assessment looking into how future new thermal coal mine projects will be assessed under the government’s Impact Assessment Act.

The strategic assessment will include, but not be limited to:

  • Environmental and health impacts of thermal coal mining;
  • Market analysis of projected demand for thermal coal, including economic impacts and impact on jobs in Canada; and
  • The use of thermal coal mining, including its impact on Canada’s international commitments and initiatives.

The United Nations Secretary General has called for no new coal plants by 2020, and Canada has plans to phase out traditional coal-fired power by 2030.

Wilkinson said: “An important pillar of the Government of Canada’s plan to fight climate change is phasing out traditional coal power generation, while ensuring a just and fair transition for workers and communities. With the phase out of coal power, it is important to consider the future of thermal coal mining. This strategic assessment is the tool included in the Impact Assessment Act to do this.”

Draft terms of reference for the strategic assessment of thermal coal mining will be available online for public comments early in 2020, according to the government.

It also said the Coalspur Vista Coal Mine Phase II project, located in Hinton, Alberta, currently undergoing an environmental assessment by the Province of Alberta, will not be designated for federal review under the Impact Assessment Act because it will be covered under the Provincial environmental assessment process, and the issues of Federal jurisdiction will be covered through other regulatory processes.

“If the project proceeds, it will be subject to all applicable federal regulations,” the government said.

AMG to distribute Getman equipment in Canada mining market

Amalgamated Mining Group (AMG) says it has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for OEM equipment and spare parts with Getman Corp.

This deal will see Alberta-headquartered AMG represent Getman in the Canada mining market “adding a prestigious utility vehicle product line to our ever-expanding portfolio”, the company said.

Getman’s underground equipment range includes production support machines, mechanical scalers, products for concrete spraying and low profile and coal equipment.

AMG added: “With over 90 years combined experience in the underground mining industry, we are now better suited to jointly provide your mining operation complete customised equipment and support solutions.”

Sandvik provides productivity boost at New Afton block cave mine

An automated loading solution has enabled Canada’s only block cave mine to mitigate mud rush hazards and improve productivity – and it paid for itself in less than two months, according to Sandvik.

Operated by New Gold, New Afton development began via decline ramp in 2007 and the mine reached commercial production in 2012. The mine, which employs a workforce of around 450, produced 77,329 oz of gold and 85.1 MIb (38,601 t) of copper in 2018.

Tonnage is tantamount to profitability at New Gold’s New Afton mine in south-central British Columbia. The mine has moved and milled as many as 22,000 t of ore in a single day and routinely extracts 18,500 t from Canada’s only block cave.

Like other prolific block caves, New Afton enjoys enviable efficiency at extremely low operating costs. But the mine has also had to conquer one of the biggest block cave challenges: mud rush.

Mitigating mud rush hazards was the major motivation for implementing automated loading at New Afton. As the block cave grew, more and more drawpoints became finely fragmented and wet. By 2016, one in five drawpoints were assessed as high risk, according to Sandvik.

To ensure operator safety, New Afton stopped manual mucking in those drawpoints and implemented line-of-sight teleremote loading.

“When 20% of your ore source needs to be remotely mucked, you run the risk that you can’t supply your mill with adequate tonnages,” said Mine Manager Peter Prochotsky, who joined New Afton in 2009 as a Mining Engineer and has seen the operation grow from a development project into Canada’s highest-tonnage underground mine. “The line-of-sight systems just weren’t keeping up with the growing production demand over the years and we needed a new way of doing things.”

New Afton conducted an engineering study in late 2016 to assess the potential value of implementing automated production loading to overcome the production constraint caused by line-of-sight and further improve safety.

The mine trialled an AutoMine-equipped Sandvik LH514 for one month in early 2017. Although the 14-t loader proved too long for some of the cave’s tighter turns, New Afton estimated impressive cycle times and buckets per shift for a smaller Sandvik LH410 based on the trial performance of the Sandvik LH514.

“To transition from a line-of-sight solution to an automated solution, we calculated a 54-day payback period,” Prochotsky says. “If we continued using line-of-site teleremotes, that production loss was essentially, over 54 days, the value of a brand new Sandvik LH410. And, we obviously made the choice pretty quickly that it was the right way to go.”

New Afton’s existing block cave extraction level layout wasn’t optimised for automation, Sandvik said. “Two dedicated colleagues worked hand in hand to champion the project, implementing the system and building operator buy-in,” it added.

Bob Garner, a technical expert with decades of block cave experience, led the operational side and trained operators on the AutoMine system. Electrical Instrumentation Technician, TJ Williams, meanwhile, handled installation of all electrical systems.

Garner says: “We needed to figure out the infrastructure, figure out the Wi-Fi, where we were going to put antennae points, how far apart they had to be, and then teach the loader its path and dial everything in to get it running efficiently.”

Sandvik provided initial engineering assistance, starting system implementation in the west cave that Williams was able to replicate himself in the east cave.

“The infrastructure is relatively simple,” he says. “Sandvik provided excellent documentation that we followed to a ‘T’ and I picked things up along the way working with their engineers. The overall process of installation was pretty straightforward.”

Within a week of commissioning in late 2017, the first of the mine’s two automated Sandvik LH410s was already proving significantly more productive than the teleremote solution, the mining OEM said.

Williams says most of the mine’s line-of-sight operators were comfortable running AutoMine within five days.

“The Sandvik automated loaders are much more technologically advanced than the competitor loaders featuring aftermarket line-of-sight, but the learning curve wasn’t steep,” he says. “Everybody picked it up really easy.”

New Afton has used its Sandvik LH410s for production mucking on the mine’s extraction level, one of the block cave’s five main underground levels. The average tram distance between drawpoint and ore pass is only 250 ft (76 m), limiting automation’s benefits.

Prochotsky says: “The longer the distance from drawpoint to ore pass, the faster the loader can tram and complete a cycle and the greater the value of automation.”

Despite the limitations created by the level’s short trams, the automated Sandvik LH410’s cycle time is almost twice as fast as the mine’s line-of-sight loaders, according to Sandvik. Manual mucking is still faster in the areas New Afton can use it, but the automated Sandvik LH410’s lower downtime and higher utilisation compensate for its modestly higher cycle time, the company said.

“At the end of the day, the tonnes moved by a manual loader and an automated loader are very similar,” Prochotsky says.

On top of recouping the investment cost of the automated loader in less than two months of operation, New Afton has experienced equipment health benefits on its bottom line, Sandvik said.

“AutoMine steers the loader with pinpoint precision and its collision avoidance features help eliminate damage while enabling high speeds that accelerate overall cycle time,” the equipment maker added.

“We used to do about C$10,000 ($7,565) of collision damage per loader per month, directly related to operating our line-of-sight loaders in a tight environment,” Prochotsky says. “This cost has dropped to zero thanks to AutoMine.”

The mine has also seen a 30% increase in tyre life on the automated Sandvik LH410s compared with the mine’s other 10 t loaders, Sandvik said.

After successfully managing the step change from line-of-sight to automated loading, and improving mucking efficiency while mitigating mud rush hazards, New Afton started thinking bigger.

For the first 18 months, operators oversaw the automated Sandvik LHDs from two underground control rooms. New Afton recently finalised a permit amendment process with British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to allow the mine’s operators to run AutoMine from a third chair on surface, eliminating travel time and enabling automated mucking through shift change.

“We think that’s really going to enable us to unlock the productivity benefits of automation,” Prochotsky says. “The gains we expect to see from this change should more than close the narrow gap between manual and automated mucking productivity.”

While New Afton focused almost solely on production during 2018, the mine has also recently restarted development to access a new zone that is expected to extend mine life to 2030. New Afton must maintain the same 18,500 t/d output despite three fewer operating hours due to twice-daily blasting.

Running AutoMine from surface enables New Afton to solve this challenge, too.

“We’ll keep our block cave productive by using an automated loader to muck our development rounds through blast clearing delays,” Prochotsky says. “If we can save 90 minutes in each shift, that’s a huge efficiency gain that also de-risks the project.”

Prochotsky contends New Afton couldn’t have implemented automated loading at a more ideal time.

“The opportunity to take your learnings and put them into action happens infrequently in block cave mines, as a new level is only developed every five to 10 years,” he says.

“We’re fortunate that we brought the AutoMine system in at really the perfect time for us, to learn how to use it for maximum benefit and position ourselves to take full advantage of it in future mine design.”

For New Afton, AutoMine has proven to be the complete automation solution that management assessed it to be, according to Sandvik.

“If another Mine Manager came to me and asked me who they should automate with, I think that Sandvik has the best system on the market, and it’s really because they have the total package,” Prochotsky says.

“They’ve got field service representatives available to come to your site to help train your people, they’ve got great safety documentation that allows you to make sure there won’t be any incidents or accidents underground, and they’ve got a product that works. It’s a pretty simple solution in my mind.”

The full version of this article appeared first as a Sandvik Solid Ground online news story, see following link: https://solidground.sandvik/the-ultimate-proving-ground/

Legacy Alberta coal mine to receive new life as renewable project

The Government of Canada is backing a project in Alberta to turn a former operating coal mine in the region into a renewable energy operation.

Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, last week announced C$3.8 million ($2.8 million) in funding to the BIOSALIX program, a renewable energy coal mine reclamation project near Forestburg, Alberta.

A collaborative effort led by environmental consulting firm Sylvis, the project uses municipal organic waste as an additive to generate the conditions to grow a willow crop on the reclaimed land, Natural Resources Canada said. The willow is then harvested to create a woody biomass that can be used to produce renewable heat, energy and other products.

According to Slyvis, the project is the first of its type and size, providing a path for clean energy growth through the transition of prairie coal mines to biomass production while providing mining communities with economical stability through the development of a cleantech economy.

“Overall, this project will help municipalities manage their organic waste, grow a renewable feedstock to produce bioenergy, reclaim expired mine land and create new opportunities for communities affected by coal mine closures,” NRC said.

Federal funding for the project will be provided through Natural Resource Canada’s Clean Growth Program. Further funding in the amounts of C$1.5 and C$2 million will be provided respectively by Alberta Innovates and Emission Reductions Alberta. Natural Resource Canada’s Canadian Forest Service will also lend its biomass research and expertise to the project.

The Clean Growth Program is a C$155-million investment fund that helps emerging clean technologies further reduce their impacts on air, land and water while enhancing competitiveness and creating jobs.

QM Points to rehabilitate former uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada

QM Points Contracting has entered into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council to complete the Gunnar Mine – Other Site Aspect Remediation project in the Canadian province.

This agreement represents one of the remaining major phases to reclaim the Gunnar mine site that was closed in 1964 without proper decommissioning, it said. As a result of the agreement, the site will be remediated to a level to allow reestablishment of vegetation and traditional uses of the land. It will also result in training, employment and subcontracting opportunities for local community members, as well as other benefits to the region including bursaries for students and community enhancement projects, QM said.

QM Points is a partnership between QM Environmental and Points Athabasca Contracting, with the partnership specialising in environmental contracting activities in Saskatchewan and beyond. QM Environmental is a national environmental services contractor and Points Athabasca Contracting is a Saskatchewan-based civil and construction contractor with majority local Athabasca Basin Indigenous ownership, and over 20 years of successful operations in the region.

John Scarfe, Chief Executive Officer of Points Athabasca Contracting, said: “This partnership is a very exciting step for us and for our shareholder communities in the Athabasca Basin Region. Not only does it allow us to expand and add end-to-end construction projects to our portfolio but growing this partnership also helps provide opportunities for us to do what we do best: ‘Building Capacity’ for Indigenous people.”

The former Gunnar uranium mine and mill site is located on the north shore of Lake Athabasca, some 25 km south of Uranium City, Saskatchewan. The mine was operational from 1955-1963 and officially closed in 1964 with little decommissioning.

Due to the remote and isolated location of the site, numerous buildings (both industrial and residential) and facilities were developed. According to technical standards during that time, asbestos was widely used in all the buildings.

QM Points’ work will focus on waste rock cover construction; landfill construction; and general site remediation including installation of stainless steel mine closures, gamma radiation shielding covers over the general site, management of contaminated soils and rock and site-wide debris segregation and consolidation in appropriate landfills.

Belterra to offer Superior conveyor idlers, pulleys, scrapers and accessories in Quebec

US-based Superior Industries has announced a new partnership with Canada’s largest distributor of conveyor belting, components and other bulk material handling solutions, Belterra.

Belterra, a 50-year-old distributor with 19 locations throughout Canada, will stock, sell and service Superior’s conveyor idlers, pulleys, scrapers and accessories in Quebec, Superior said.

“We’re excited to partner with such a respected distributor who is well-known for carrying significant inventory, performing prompt service and having high character,” says Ryan Loge, Superior’s Conveyor Components Sales Manager in Canada.

With Quebec branches in Montreal, Québec City and Saguenay, Belterra is well-positioned to take care of customer requests quickly, Superior said.

“The distributor will stock a standard collection of Superior idlers, pulleys, belt scrapers and other conveyor accessories. Additionally, the Quebec-based team will work closely with product and project managers at Superior to supply dry bulk producers with custom solutions backed by industry best manufacturing lead times.”

MacLean Blockholer to keep ore flowing at all-electric Borden gold project

The flagship unit of MacLean Engineering’s Ore Flow suite is now ready to join the equipment manufacturer’s battery-electric fleet at Newmont Goldcorp’s Borden project, in northern Ontario, Canada.

The MacLean Blockholer is a “versatile warrior”, according to Viv Bhatt, Product Manager – Ore Flow, Drill & Blast at MacLean Engineering.

“We call it a Blockholer, you may know it as a secondary reduction drill, but either way it comes down to the same thing…a critical tool for making sure the ore flows in underground mining,” Bhatt said, adding that there are more than 125 success stories from across the globe that attest to this.

MacLean’s battery-electric fleet at Borden, billed by its owners as being the world’s first all-electric mine upon start-up (expected later this year), has been steadily growing over the past year or so. The company said back in March that the delivery to Borden of the Blockholer would see its fleet hit 15 units, comprised of six bolters and nine utility vehicles.

On the Blockholer specifically, Bhatt said: “Whether it’s a low hang-up in a drawpoint, or oversize rock on the ground that’s too large for scoops to handle and too disruptive to get rid of with concussion blasting, it’s your secondary reduction rig that solves the problem and ensures that production isn’t held up.

“And when it’s not tasked with this mission, it can be put to use for ancillary drilling for mine services.”

Bhatt listed off five reasons why the self-contained blockholer drill could become the workhorse of hard-rock underground mining fleets:

  • “Improved safety – In dealing with low hang-ups, runs of muck remain a potential risk. Remote-controlled drilling and loading explosives from a safe distance is a much safer option than manual loading of concussion blasts, and this is precisely what Blockholer drills deliver;
  • “Improved production – One mine went from 700 tons per day (635 t/d) off a mucking horizon to 3,000 tons/d after the introduction of a Blockholer. Another had a pillar blast break poorly and they were unable to make 50% of schedule prior to acquiring a Blockholer. (In this instance the unit was paid for entirely with the savings in secondary blasting explosives.) Also, pulling the wrong boxhole because of a hang-up or because it is choked with large muck results in improper draw leading to dilution and/or loss of metal vis-a-vis calculated reserves;
  • “Reduced Scooptram maintenance costs – The safe and efficient treatment of oversize improves scoop availability (ie it increases tonnage) and, at the same time, it reduces parts costs especially for major items in the drive train such as planetary gear boxes, drive shafts, and differentials, and in the mucking action for cylinders, linkages, and buckets;
  • “Reduced blasting powder and rehab costs – Over and above the safety benefits, self-contained blockholer drills deliver substantial cost savings with regard to the use of secondary blasting powder, as well as reduced detonation effects on ventilation air. Elimination of concussion blasting in drawpoint throats (especially with powder packs wedged between a large chunk and the brow) also significantly reduces the need for brow repair and re-bolting, as well as damage to mine services like air lines, water lines, power cables, ventilation doors, vent ducting and fans”, and;
  • “Versatility for mine support – Blockholers can also efficiently and safely perform mine service support functions such as drilling for the installation of ventilation doors, dams, fans, pipelines, power cables, etc. This is particularly beneficial when installing or repairing services in remote or high-traffic areas of a mine.”

And, of course, the Blockholer is equipped with MacLean’s latest EV Powertrain, providing zero emissions, low noise and low heat operations, Bhatt concluded.