Tag Archives: Pyhäsalmi

Normet on developing the underground mine of the future

A small town in central Finland with less than 5,000 inhabitants seems an unlikely place for a world-class underground research facility and advanced business ecosystem, but the Callio FutureMINE project is nonetheless at the cutting edge of mining and tunnelling R&D, according to one of the companies involved in the project.

The Callio FutureMINE project is intentioned to develop the Pyhäsalmi mine’s infrastructure into a digital test mine of the future, which can influence the electrification and digitalisation of the entire mining industry in Finland and internationally.

Pyhäsalmi itself is Europe’s deepest base metal mine, going down more than 1,400 m below surface.

Even before mining operations ended in August 2022, the location was developed as a research hub and multidisciplinary operating environment called Callio. For Normet, the opportunity to be involved in such a unique and important resource was a no-brainer.

“We have been using the mine for our personnel development and equipment testing for a long time,” Mark Ryan, Vice President Equipment Offering and New Technology at Normet, said. “Callio provides a safe environment for us to test new products in exact atmospheric conditions, and also for our customers to see our technology in action for themselves. The fact it also contains the world’s deepest sauna is a bonus.”

Normet is joined by Pyhäsalmi Mine Oy, Edzcom Oy, Sandvik Oy, M-Solutions Oy, Pyhäsalmen Kvanttikiinteistöt Oy, Kempower Oy, Oy Forcit Ab, Delta Cygni Labs Oy, Byrnecut Ltd and OZ Minerals Ltd on this project.

The conditions in the mine are useful because they exactly mimic the operating environments of Normet’s machinery around the world, while also being free from constraints such as stringent operational safety considerations related to normal mine production, Normet explained. The unique conditions present in the mine provide opportunities for research and development that are unparalleled, it claims.

“We have dedicated areas of the mine that we use to simulate the areas that our customers experience in their operations,” Ryan continued. “We can demonstrate and test applications in all parts of the mining process that Normet is involved in, from concrete spraying to explosives charging. There’s no better place to showcase and develop new mining technologies than in an actual mine.”

The forward-looking approach of Callio is indeed reflected in Normet’s proprietary solutions such as the Normet SmartDrive® electric vehicles. Being fully battery operated, the vehicles produce no local emissions and provide significant cost and energy savings.

Ryan explained: “Battery-operated vehicles are an evolution in mining. One of our visions is to use Pyhäjärvi (rebranded from the Pyhäsalmi mine) to showcase this with a visitors’ centre where customers can experience the product in action in a realistic environment for themselves. In the case of the SmartDrive, we can demonstrate how the charging stations work, the process and logistics, and how data collection can benefit the operator.”

This data collection is another big step towards improving mining efficiency. At Callio, visitors can see in the demonstration control room how Normet equipment captures operational data in real time and transmits it for analysis. The information from this process can be used to improve efficiency, reduce downtime and ensure a safe and productive work environment.

Other projects in Callio involve energy storage, underground rescue, and even edible insects, among others. In general, this environment creates many opportunities for cooperation and knowledge exchange, according to Normet.

“We can see real opportunities for mutual benefit in regard to development,” Ryan explained. “We are very open to additional partnerships and shared initiatives.”

And this unique project is in part a result of its location, Normet says.

Ryan concluded: “I think there is a real kind of innovative, entrepreneur type of thinking in Finland that gives us a competitive edge and enables Normet to offer our customers the best possible technologies and keeps us relevant. We see ourselves as process experts. The machines we sell are products that enable that expertise. Callio provides an incredible opportunity for us to demonstrate our unique abilities.”

Eldorado Gold’s Efemçukuru mine to test Normet battery-electric vehicle

Eldorado Gold’s underground mining battery-electric vehicle journey is set to begin next month, with the company imminently awaiting the arrival of a Normet SmartDrive concrete transportation vehicle at its Efemçukuru gold mine.

The company has reviewed the potential for the use of battery-electric vehicles at its Lamaque underground gold mine in Canada in the past, but this is the first official trial of zero emission mobile equipment the company will conduct. This aligns with the company’s recently announced target of mitigating GHG emissions by 30%, from 2020 levels, by 2030 on a ‘business as usual’ basis; equal to approximately 65,000 t of carbon dioxide equivalent. To achieve this target Eldorado is focused on pursuing decarbonisation through four key pathways including: measuring and monitoring; operational efficiencies and continuous improvement; technologies, processes and energy generation; and energy procurement and strategy.

Set to arrive at the mine, in Izmir Province, western Turkey, at the end of the month, the Normet Utimec MF 500 SD transmixer will be tested in a combination of ramp and flat drifts over the latter part of April.

Efemçukuru, a high-grade epithermal deposit, will provide a good test for the machine. While reasonably shallow in terms of depth, the narrow-vein mine has four declines (SOS, MOS, NOS and KBNW), each covering approximately 400 m of strike extent. These declines have 15% inclination, while flat drifts with inclinations ranging from 0-5% will provide a good platform for overall speed.

A spokesperson for the gold miner told IM that the machine, which has already been purchased, will be tested against assumptions provided by the manufacturer for rates of charging and discharging. The machine is then intended to be used in an operational capacity.

“Battery charging rates will be tested for charging from the existing grid, from a quick charging station and from downhill braking,” the team leading the project said. “Moreover, the battery usage rate will be tested for driving in uphill (15%) and flat (0-5%) galleries, against assumptions.”

Testing will also involve the comparison of performance of both battery-electric and diesel machines in uphill tramming, with the company expecting the battery-electric transmixer to outperform the diesel-equivalent in these head-to-head tests due to the machine’s high torque.

The Utimec MF 500 Transmixer SD (pictured here at Normet’s outdoor test track at its Iisalmi factory) has a 4.4 cu.m concrete carrying capacity, and comes with a combined power rating of 200 kW alongside a maximum tramming speed of 20 km/h.

Normet says the machine is designed for fast and safe concrete transportation in underground mines and tunnels where the tramming height is at least 2.4 m. The concrete drum rotation is electrically controlled and the speed ranges between 0-13 rpm.

Tested at both the Normet factory and the First Quantum polymetallic Pyhäsalmi mine in Finland, the MF Transmixer 500 SD has displayed a payback period of 2-3 years based on the machine completing a two-hour cycle that involves a 3 km journey on a 1:7 decline running at 15 km/h with the bowl rotating, one hour of unloading with the bowl rotating at 15 kW, and an uphill unloaded haul of 3 km at 10 km/h with no bowl rotation.

Eldorado said the MF Transmixer 500 SD will be at the mine site shortly, with training coordinated by Normet taking place in April ahead of the trial.

Normet battery-powered Charmec arrives at OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena mine

OZ Minerals has become the first miner in Australia to take delivery of a battery-powered Normet Charmec MC 605 VE SmartDrive (SD), with the unit arriving at its Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia last month.

In a post on LinkedIn, the company said of the machine: “It is Australia’s first battery-powered vehicle for underground explosive charging and emits zero local emissions.”

Back in June 2019, Normet made history by, for the first time in Europe, demonstrating battery-electric emulsion charging in a production environment underground at the Pyhäsalmi mine, in Finland, with its Charmec MC 605 VE SD.

This followed the launch of its SmartDrive battery-electric vehicle architecture at Bauma in Munich, back in April 2019.

According to Normet, battery-based charging makes the explosives charging process safer and more efficient, as there is no need to plug in to the mine’s electric grid.

The company says the Charmec MC 605 VE SD presents the new era of charging in underground mines.

“Normet SmartDrive battery-electric vehicle technology, integrated to the state-of-art emulsion charging technology, offers the highest value to customer in terms of safety, health, ergonomics and productivity, with zero local emissions,” it said.

A prefeasibility study on an expansion of Carrapateena, released in June, included a trial of electric light vehicles and establishment of a renewable energy hub.