Tag Archives: Sudbury

Evolution enlists RCT and its Guidance Automation tech to transform Red Lake gold mine

Evolution Mining has selected RCT and its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation technology to help “transform” its new Red Lake mine in Ontario, Canada.

Evolution has embarked on a three-year investment strategy to restore the newly acquired Red Lake mine to a safe, highly efficient, long life and low-cost operation providing strong value for shareholders. This followed its acquisition of the operation from Newmont in November 2019 in a deal that could eventually rise to $475 million.

RCT has previously worked with Evolution Mining on transitioning its Mungari operations in Western Australia’s Goldfields region to its fully-autonomous technology solution.

To assist in the Red Lake turnaround strategy, RCT will commission its interoperable and scalable ControlMaster Guidance Automation technology to the underground loader fleet.

RCT says it is working closely with Red Lake’s leadership team to seamlessly integrate the new technology to enable greater productivity efficiencies to support Evolution Mining’s transformation strategy.

“The technology will unlock significant value for Evolution Mining by ensuring optimal machine performance, higher speed autonomous tramming, and reduced machine damage,” RCT said. “The technology will deliver faster production cycle times and reduced unplanned downtime across the loader fleet.”

The loaders will be controlled from either the surface-based ControlMaster Automation Centre or the customised underground Automation Centres designed specifically for easier transfer via the mine shaft hoist system.

This solution safeguards machine operators by relocating them away from hazards commonly found at the mine face and significantly reduces shift handover times, lowering overhead costs and resulting in greater site efficiencies, RCT said.

Kirsty Liddicoat, Red Lake General Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with RCT to introduce modern technologies to Red Lake as part of our transformation process. RCT equipment will enable higher productivity and efficiencies from our underground scoop fleet, while improving safety for our people.”

RCT’s Mining Business Development Manager, Ryan Noden, said ControlMaster is an ideal solution to help deliver the operational transformation that is aligned to Evolution Mining’s Red Lake strategy.

“The advanced features of the ControlMaster Automation technology means Red Lake will be able to quickly achieve improved production efficiencies from its loader fleet, with a greater level of safety for its operators,” he said. “Red Lake will also benefit from selecting a truly interoperable technology provider that can collaborate closely with them to realise further mobile equipment automation opportunities as further optimisation of the asset is achieved.”

Noden added: “RCT has a proud history of delivering value to the Canadian mining sector and we look forward to continually delivering to them with our cutting-edge technology backed by our dedicated in-country support team based at the company’s facility in Sudbury, Ontario.”

Evolution’s vision is to restore Red Lake to be one of Canada’s premier gold mines sustainably producing 300,000-500,000 oz/y of low-cost gold, Jake Klein, Evolution’s Executive Chairman, has said.

Major Drilling’s drilling dominance aim strengthened with new Manitoba office

Major Drilling has opened a new office in Manitoba, Canada, as it looks to expand its contract drilling services and streamline its operations.

Completed at the end of 2020, the new 29,000 sq.ft (2,694 sq.m) operations head office houses an enlarged maintenance shop, parts warehouse and administrative offices. It also includes a 3.2 ha storage yard.

“We are proud of our long history in Manitoba,” Barry Zerbin, General Manager of Canadian Operations, said. “With our expanded space in Winnipeg, we can better serve our clients throughout the country and continue the specialised drilling results we are known to deliver.”

The new building stands over 8.5 m tall among developments inside the ‘CentrePort’ 8,094 ha inland port and foreign trade zone. The zone is home to North America’s largest tri-modal World Trade Center located in Rosser, part of the Winnipeg metro area, Major Drilling says.

The CentrePort campus positions Major Drilling well logistically. The geographic centre of Canada is mere kilometres from the new building where the shop, maintenance, and support staff supply crews, drills and parts across the country. The new building adds to the already strong and established framework of Major Drilling branches and shops throughout Canada including locations in Flin Flon, Sudbury, Rouyn, Timmins and Yellowknife, the company says.

The new Winnipeg location services Major Drilling’s Canadian operations with 24 offices for administration office staff, the human resources, safety and operations departments, and country managers. The maintenance team, with over a dozen employees, is housed in a 743 sq.m shop containing four full-sized bays with over 7.5 m in ceiling clearance to service all rig types in the Major Drilling fleet. The warehouse team works in a 650 sq.m facility containing inventory and spare parts. The building can also accommodate in-house training schools for additional crews coming aboard to meet client needs.

From left to right: the new Winnipeg branch location includes an 743 sq.m shop containing four full-sized bays with high ceiling clearance to service all rig types in the Major Drilling fleet; 24 offices for administration office staff; and a 650 sq.m foot facility containing inventory and spare parts

Zerbin says the expanded space allows the Winnipeg Branch to service Major Drilling’s clients in the province which include Hudbay Minerals in Flin Flon/Snow Lake; Vale in Thompson; 1911 Gold in Bissett; and Yamana Gold in Monument Bay. It also increases capacity for clients across Canada such as Foran Mining, Nighthawk Gold Corp and Sabina Gold & Silver.

Manitoba is a long-established operations area for Major Drilling. In 1998, the company completed the acquisition of the Midwest group of companies in Canada, which operated for more than 70 years of in central Canada and the Arctic. Midwest was one of the largest drilling companies in Canada with over 115 drills (80 surface, 35 underground).

The new Winnipeg office is opening just as the mining industry enters a projected upcycle in activity, according to Major Drilling.

“In 2021, Major Drilling continues its strategy of dominating specialised drilling across the globe,” the company said.

MacLean reinforces shotcrete ops with new EV sprayer, transmixer

MacLean Engineering has become renowned for its battery-electric equipment in the last four-to-five years, having announced its electrified plans at MINExpo 2016, and steadily upped its offering in line with industry demand.

Yet, it is not the only company in its field backing battery-powered production support developments underground.

Recognising the same trend that led to MacLean initiating its EV Series program in 2015, its competitors have also looked to electrify their own diesel-powered units.

Few of them to this point have clocked up the same amount of operating hours on battery that MacLean can boast; even fewer of them have gone beyond the limits of their diesel-powered predecessors with the adoption of new opex-enhancing technology and safety additions.

The company is now leveraging this experience with the launch of a new shotcrete-transmixer combination that, MacLean says, will make it the only OEM able to offer fully electrified, articulated shotcrete operations purpose-designed for underground mining applications.

Jonathan Lavallee, Product Manager – Shotcrete Equipment, got IM up to speed with developments.

“The SS5 battery-electric shotcrete sprayer is now mechanically complete,” he said ahead of the launch today. “We’ve tested it at our underground test mine and it has exceeded our expectations.”

Filling out an offering of shotcrete sprayers that includes the diesel-powered SS2 and SS3 machines, the battery-powered SS5 shotcrete unit is close to 7 ft (2.13 m) wide and is the first-ever MacLean sprayer to have a forward-facing cab for a better view of shotcreting operations from inside the cab.

In addition to a better view, the shift from mid-ship to forward-facing cab has also aided with placing the batteries and the EV components on the rear side of the machine to ensure rebound dust and particulates from shotcrete operations are not getting inside the EV components, Lavallee said.

Alongside this machine will be the 2.59-m-wide battery-powered TM3 concrete transmixer, which is based on a diesel-equivalent machine already on the market and will serve the SS5’s shotcrete needs.

Like all of MacLean’s EV Series machines, the SS5 sprayer will be able to tram on battery and connect to the power infrastructure within the mine for spraying.

This might not be all, according to Lavallee.

“Depending on the size of your heading, the battery re-generation capability on site and the air quality/quantity, there could be an option to shoot on pure battery,” he said.

Testing at the MacLean Research and Training Facility in Sudbury saw the prototype machine complete two full mixer trucks worth of shotcrete – roughly 12 cu.m – while still having enough battery power remaining to conduct a thorough wash down and washout of the equipment and tram to the nearest point of recharge, according to Lavallee.

While there was no on-board compressor fitted to this prototype – with the machine using mine air at the test facility – Lavallee is confident the commercial unit will provide the option of spraying off battery for parts of a mine where power services have not yet been established.

“Depending on the size of your heading, the battery re-generation capability on site and the air quality/quantity, there could be an option to shoot on pure battery [with the SS5],” Jonathan Lavallee says
There is more to the SS5 than battery-powered operation alone, which Lavallee, a man with shotcrete experience at Oyu Tolgoi, Grasberg, Outotec and GCP Applied Technologies, is keen to talk up.

Fitted with a “first of its kind” automatic accelerator dosing system and the company’s Auto Doser platform, Lavallee says the machine will allow operations to save money on shotcrete consumption, increase the quality of material going onto the walls and, most importantly, create a safer environment for miners.

“My mission has always been to ensure the product is 100% quality and reacts and solidifies as it is supposed to without causing any falls or damage to personnel or equipment,” he said.

Other than the new accelerator, the system will use sophisticated scanning technology for shotcrete thickness monitoring.

“That will, again, enable you to enhance the quality of the material going onto the drifts and headings,” Lavallee said. “It will also eventually help with cost reductions through reducing overshooting.”

These elements, combined, could have a significant impact on the operating cost associated with the SS5, with Lavallee hinting at 30-60% savings from the dosing system, and plus-20% savings in shotcrete consumption with the use of the accelerator and real-time scanning technology.

The Australia market will be the first to test out the new sprayer, with a unit set to be delivered to a customer site in the June quarter. Ahead of this, it is heading to the company’s branch in Elko, Nevada, for additional testing.

This unit will also be equipped with a newer type of battery MacLean is currently putting through its paces, in addition to an in-development compressor.

MacLean, again, appears to have not only electrified its mining equipment niche; but reinforced it with all the technology smarts forward-thinking miners are after.

Vale teams with Komatsu and CMIC on ‘revolutionary’ hard-rock cutting project

Vale, in 2021, is due to embark on a major hard-rock cutting project at its Garson mine, in Sudbury, Canada.

Part of the mechanical cutting demonstration within the CMIC (Canada Mining Innovation Council) Continuous Underground Mining project, it will see the company test out a Komatsu hard-rock cutting machine equipped with Komatsu DynaCut Technology at the mine.

With an aim to access the McConnell orebody, as well as provide a primary case study for CMIC members to learn from, all eyes will be on this Sudbury mine in the June quarter of 2021.

Vale plans to demonstrate the ability to cut rock in excess of 250 MPa; cut at a commercial rate of more than 3.5 m/shift; quantify the cost per metre of operation and start to look at the potential comparison with conventional drill and blast development; assess the health, safety and environmental suitability of the mechanical rock excavation (MRE) process; and gain insight into the potential of an optimised MRE process.

Another Komatsu unit has already been assembled and (by now) is most likely operating at the Cadia underground mine in New South Wales, Australia, operated by Newcrest Mining. Vale will be watching developments here, where a three-month “pre-trial” cutting hard rock will take place.

Vale has laid out a testing plan for its own machine, with the unit set to cut around 400 m for the trial period.

IM had to find out more about this.

Fortunately Vale’s Luke Mahony, Head of Geology, Mine Engineering, Geotechnical and Technology & Innovation for the Global Base Metals Business; and Andy Charsley, Project Lead and Principal Mining Engineer, Technology & Innovation, were happy to talk.

IM: Why do you think industry collaboration is key in the underground hard-rock cutting space, in particular? Why has it been harder to develop and apply this technology in mining compared with other solutions such as automation, electrification and digitalisation?

LM: There are many various OEMs entering the market with hard-rock cutting equipment. All of them approach the problem a little bit differently, so it is difficult for one company to trial all of the options. At the same time, we are trying to leverage these new technologies and processes across the industry for a mechanical cutting type of future. For me, this is essential if we are to get the safety, cost and productivity benefits we need to make some of these new underground mines viable.

Comparing it to automation and electrification shows it is a ‘revolutionary’ concept as opposed to an ‘evolutionary’ one. Automation and electrification are more evolutionary concepts – automating an existing scoop or truck or electrifying it – whereas hard-rock cutting is more revolutionary and transformational in the sector, so industry collaboration is even more important.

IM: Since the project was presented at CMIC’s ReThinkMining Webinar, in June, have you had a lot more partnership interest in the project?

LM: We have seen a few other industry members ask questions and connect regarding this project. Some mining companies, while interested, are a little unsure of how they can get on-board with a project like this. What we have done is to utilise the CMIC consortium to make it the foundation of this collaboration, ensuring it is as easy and efficient as possible to join. Also, we want to cover the key concerns that mining companies have when it comes to collaboration, which CMIC is well aware of and can address.

CMIC is well connected with underground professionals and like-minded companies, and is able to pull in interest and facilitate the collaboration framework.

IM: What has happened to the MRE project timeline since June? Are you still on for receiving the machine in early 2021 to start testing later in the year?

AC: The machine has been assembled and we will mobilise it to Canada in early 2021. All of the underground cutting, in Canada, is scheduled to start in April 2021.

Komatsu have assembled two units – the first unit has come off the assembly line and is about to start trials at Cadia any day now. The second machine has just completed final assembly and will undergo Factory Acceptance Testing in the next few months, while we monitor the initial performance of the first machine. The second machine will come to Canada early next year and, if there are any modifications required, we can carry them out, prior to it going underground.

IM: How has the machine changed from the prototype that was initially deployed at Cadia and shown at MINExpo 2016?

AC: In 2016 and 2018, Komatsu implemented a proof of concept and, after that proof of concept, there was interest from miners to build a full commercial unit – which has happened now.

The prototype was ultimately to test the enabling cutting technology, whereby this element was retrofitted to a medium-sized roadheader for manoeuvrability. What Komatsu has done now is fully embed it into a system more like a continuous miner, which has the cutting arm, ground handling shovel & collector and the rest of the body to put it into a full production, continuous operation. It is now going to be part of the production process, as opposed to just testing the cutting aspect.

IM: Considering the end goal of this project is to evaluate the type and number of applications for which hard-rock cutting is suitable across industry (not just at Garson and the McConnell orebody), why did you select the Komatsu HRCM?

LM: It’s really about the Komatsu DynaCut Technology, which, for us, is an extremely low energy process for cutting the hard rock compared with, say, a TBM.

At the same time, what attracts us is the ability to integrate it with existing infrastructure within our current process at the mine – bolters, trucks, LHDs, etc. It is not about fully redesigning the mine to implement this technology.

This trial is that first step to really prove and understand the Komatsu DynaCut Technology in terms of dealing with cutting our relative hard rock in Sudbury. In that regard, the Komatsu technology provided the best technical opportunities for the conditions at hand.

IM: When the machine gets going in Australia, what hardness of rock will it be cutting in the hard-rock stage? How does this compare with Garson?

LM: Cadia is a rock ranging around 200 MPa, whereas in Sudbury we would be looking around 250 MPa. That’s when you talk about Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS) of the rock.

When you start looking at this undercutting technology, there are a few other aspects you need to consider. This includes rock toughness – the ability to resist a crack when a tensile force is applied, sort of like a jackhammer – and brittleness – how much energy that rock can absorb before it breaks.

Ultimately, we are working with Komatsu to understand how we should adapt an undercutting technology for our mines, and what the key parameters to consider are. At this stage, UCS seems to be the benchmark in the industry, but I think there will be a lot more considerations to come out of this project.

IM: What are the reasons for applying the technology at Garson? Were other areas in Sudbury considered?

AC: The priority for us was to have a shallow, low stress ground environment to start off with. At the same time, these are significant machines that would have to be disassembled if you were going down a shaft, which would be complicated. We have ramp access at Garson which makes things easier.

The other point is that Garson is an operating mine so we have got the facilities that can support the project; everything from removing the rock to ground support, service installation and surface infrastructure.

IM: How widespread do you think hard-rock cutting could be across the underground industry? Could it eventually become a mainstream method to compete with drill and blast?

LM: This is the ultimate question. I would like to say yes, it will become mainstream. It is our intention to really develop and prove that it can not only compete with drill and blast, but ultimately improve on it. This will see, in the future, an application for both mechanised hard-rock cutting and drill and blast.

You are going to need to look at fundamental KPIs such as safety, productivity and the cost associated with that productivity.

The focus now is to mature the cutting technology and start to develop the production or the process that goes with underground development beyond just cutting rock.

When developing around sensitive areas where you require low disturbance, hard-rock cutting will be important, as it will be in highly seismic ground. Then, if the unit cost of operating these machines gets low enough, you can start to assess orebodies that were previously not viable. At the same time, it is an electrified process so enables the industry to accelerate some of the decarbonisation plans for underground mining.

IM: Anything else to add on the subject?

LM: I think it’s fair to say, there will be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to hard-rock cutting. Different OEMs are going to develop and mature solutions and there will be applications for each of them, but we have got a long way to go to really understand that as an industry.

The ultimate goal is to get that industry collaboration between OEMs and industry going to ensure solutions are developed that show a way forward for the sector.

This Q&A will feature in the annual continuous cutting and rapid development focus, soon to be published in the IM November-December 2020 issue. Photo courtesy of Komatsu Mining

Cambrian college to offer battery-electric vehicle training course

Cambrian College, in Greater Sudbury, Ontario, is trying to equip miners with the relevant skills to facilitate the sector’s electrification transition by offering a new Corporate Training course focused on battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).

The BEV training course is being delivered by Cambrian’s Corporate Training division in partnership with the College’s Centre for Smart Mining – part of Cambrian R&D, the college’s applied research division. The course is designed specifically for heavy-duty equipment technicians employed in the mining sector.

The use of industrial BEVs is increasing in modern mining and the industry needs skilled workers to implement and maintain this new technology, the college said.

“Cambrian’s latest Corporate Training course will ensure those employees already working in mining can obtain that expertise and qualifications in Greater Sudbury,” it said.

Stephen Gravel, Manager of Cambrian R&D’s Centre for Smart Mining, said: “An often overlooked, yet critical component in the adoption of new techniques and technologies in the mining sector is ensuring the workforce is adequately trained.

“A major barrier to getting new technologies like BEVs into mines is the lack of familiarity and comfort among heavy-duty equipment technicians in the field. The Centre for Smart Mining is looking to address this problem through targeted technology upskilling in a number of important high-tech areas; the first of which being BEVs.”

The course begins online shortly and will be led by a qualified instructor, Cambrian College said. On-campus in-person learning opportunities are expected to be available in the future as activities fully resume on the college’s campus. Those looking to upgrade their skillset will gain much needed industry knowledge, Cambrian College says, through four modules:

  • Fundamentals of Battery Electric Vehicle Safety;
  • Introduction to Battery Electric Mobile Equipment;
  • Introduction to Battery Electric Vehicle Communication and Troubleshooting; and
  • Practical Battery Electric Vehicle Training.

“At Cambrian, we’re committed to keeping up with the latest industry trends and making sure our courses are meeting demands in real time,” Cambrian College’s President, Bill Best, said. “The advancements in mining, especially with innovation and the shift to battery-electric vehicles, is just one area where we are the premier destination for those looking to upgrade their skills to be ready for the jobs that just didn’t exist a few short years ago.”

Liebherr-Canada increases northern Ontario exposure with new branch

Liebherr-Canada has opened a new branch in the mining-rich region of Sudbury, Ontario.

The branch will enhance service to customers throughout northern Ontario, continuing the company’s expansion in the Canada market, it said.

“Recognising the importance of projects in northern Ontario, the new branch brings Liebherr equipment specialists closer to existing customers and provides dedicated local service in the region,” it said.

Liebherr’s Sudbury branch is its 10th in Canada and second in Ontario (Liebherr-Canada’s headquarters are in Burlington, Ontario), serving as its northern Ontario hub and providing rapid technical assistance, field service, and local parts distribution to its customers, it said.

Lost Dutchman Mine ready to tell its metal separation tale

A company out of Arizona, USA, believes it has come up with a density separation technology that could upgrade heavy metal concentrates without the need for water or chemicals.

Lost Dutchman Mine (LDM), named after the legend of a rich Arizona gold deposit discovered by an elusive Dutch prospector, never since located, is the company in question. Being supported along the way by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) out of Sudbury, Ontario, the firm is looking to find a way into the mining sector at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns have reached a new high.

Mark Ogram, one of three Co-founders of LDM, explained the company’s aim and name, saying: “We’ve been able to find gold where people could not find it.

“We have now come up with a solution that requires no chemicals or water to purify a gold ore.”

While gold is the company’s initial focus, the process can be applied to most heavy metals including silver, copper and tungsten, according to Ogram. Some encouraging results have also been seen removing sulphides from gold ore ahead of further processing, in addition to ‘cleaning’ coal, he added.

A gravity separation process that uses air flow rather than water to separate these materials by density, the obvious comparisons are with Knelson concentrators or other separation technologies – all of which tend to use water or another medium for their processes. Ogram says Knelson concentrators are also for free gold, not refractory gold, the latter of which the LDM technology can cope with.

allmineral’s allair® technology also comes to mind as a comparison. This is a process that leverages many of the functions of the water-operated alljig® technology but, instead, uses air as the pulsating medium. So far, allair’s applications have been confined to mostly coal and other minerals.

Like many of these technologies, it is feed preparation that will prove decisive for the application of LDM technology, with ore crush size and moisture content the two key factors.

“We don’t think we would need ball mills to get the feed down to the right size,” LDM Co-founder Ken Abbott said. “A standard crushing and screening setup should be suitable.”

While test work to date has been with material in the 30-60 mesh range, Abbott is confident the technology will work with material from 100-200 mesh.

“It will be a little more of a sensitive process, but it does work should people require it,” he said.

When it comes to moisture content, a drying process will most likely be needed ahead of feeding to the LDM unit.

“The material needs to flow freely to work well,” Abbott said.

In-field test work involved the company using a tumble-type continuous screener/dryer to reach the appropriate moisture content, but a more ‘industrial’ process will be required in commercial applications.

The best results are likely to be achieved when both factors are consistent, according to LDM.

“The system requires a steady and uniform distribution in the feed cycle that includes surge capacity and automated material flow to ensure a steady feed rate,” the company says.

Dale A Shay, a consultant with RIMCON advising LDM, said vat leaching operations were already producing material at the appropriate size for the LDM technology to be tested. “They are also reducing the moisture content to an appropriate level,” he said.

Despite this, the company feels tailings applications may be the most suitable place to start with. This harks back to the ESG concerns miners are feeling – some of which revolves around tailings impoundment areas – as well as the fact the ‘conservative’ mining industry is generally more comfortable testing new technologies on material they already consider to be ‘waste’.

For the technology to prove out, the company will have to scale up its testing.

LDM has, to date, carried out benchtop, laboratory scale and in-field tests on low-grade material, but it has only reached a 1 ton (0.9 t) per hour rate.

“We would put in a tonne and get a few grams out,” Ogram said. “That is how we developed the technology.”

Despite there being a linear progression of recoveries from benchtop to lab to the field, LDM will need to go bigger to find the widescale applications it is after.

Yet, its potential entry into the market is well timed.

Removing the use of chemicals and water in a process that will most likely come after initial crushing could prove cost-effective, as well as environmentally sound.

Yes, the air flow component and feed drying will consume power on mine sites, but this ‘upfront’ operating cost will pay off further downstream as not as much material will be transported to make its way down the process flowsheet. It is more likely to go straight to tailings or backfill material feed.

Abbott explains: “The technology drastically reduces the material that will move onto final concentration, which substantially reduces material movement on site.”

For new developments, there is a knock-on benefit for permitting; the regulatory boxes are much more likely to be ticked when the words ‘water’ and ‘cyanide’ are absent from applications.

LDM Co-founder, Wayne Rod, sums this up: “Although from a cost perspective, it is expected to be competitive with other concentration technologies, the real savings will come on the ESG front and being able to reduce any environmental issues you may have.”

This is a message Rod and the rest of the LDM team are taking to the headquarters of major mining companies, where executives and board members are treating ESG challenges like a ‘cost’ they need to reduce to stay viable.

“As that ESG issue becomes even more prevalent, I see technology becoming a much bigger focus area,” Rod says. “Taking water and chemicals out of the concentration process will help alleviate some of that pressure.”

2BL to take ‘reuse + repurpose – recycle’ message to battery-electric vehicle market

2nd Battery Life Inc has appointed a new President and CEO that, it hopes, will position the company ahead of the curve on the downstream reuse of batteries for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in mining.

Vernon Cameron has been appointed to the top job, joining Chairman & Chief Technology Officer – and battery-electric vehicle specialist – Mike Mayhew on the executive team.

Cameron brings a wealth of experience in private equity, private and public companies with over 30 years of senior level experience on a global basis, according to the company. His hands-on experience in manufacturing environments, as well as global sourcing connections, will maximise profitability and drive enterprise value, it said.

Mayhew, who with Stacktronic is currently working on repurposing and electrifying a personnel carrier for use in the underground mining sector under the guise of his Mayhew Performance company, said he was “extremely excited” to launch 2nd Battery Life Inc to the market.

“The need for 2BL is critical for the future of battery electric as we implement more BEVs within the mining operations, as part of the overall equipment life cycle towards zero emissions.

“2BL will be the cornerstone of ‘reuse + repurpose – recycle” for mining clients on a global basis and we are going to create a Centre of Excellence to manage 2nd Battery Life.”

Cameron, who recently moved back to Sudbury, said: “The timing of entering this emerging market space positions 2BL to be ahead of the curve on downstream reuse of batteries for mining BEVs.”

Rokion battery-powered vehicles hit new depths at Vale Creighton

As Vale continues to go deeper at its Creighton nickel mine, in Sudbury, Canada, it is adopting alternatives to its fleet of diesel-powered haulage, loading and utility vehicles in a bid to lower operating costs and improve environmental conditions for personnel that could eventually be working nearly 3 km underground.

Vale’s PowerShift strategy, part of the miner’s 2030 sustainability goals, aims to make the company’s energy matrix “clean” by focusing on the use of renewable energy and alternative fuels, greater efficiency of operations using new technologies, and forest promotion. As part of this strategy, it will test and adopt existing ‘green’ solutions as well as develop technologies with the potential for greater impact on its carbon footprint.

This has involved the use of Rokion’s battery-powered personnel carriers/utility vehicles at Creighton.

The company has been working with Rokion for close to two years after placing an order for three of its vehicles for the Creighton mine. Alongside these vehicles are other battery-powered haul trucks, loaders and production support machines supplied by the likes of Epiroc and MacLean Engineering. All these machines are being added to the fleet as the company looks to access deeper, more ventilation-constrained areas of the mine.

Todd Van Den Enden, Process Superintendent at Creighton Mine, told IM recently that the Rokion R100, R200 and R400 units had been “very well received at Creighton Mine” and the company had moved forward in purchasing more of these units to further its battery-electric vehicle development at the operation.

The units are currently used by Vale’s service groups – such as industrial mechanics, electrical and planning departments – and generally run for the entirety of a 10.5-hour shift.

The ramps at Creighton, which go from 15-20% on both the incline and decline, according to Van Den Enden, will aid the continual operation of these battery-powered machines. Equipped with lithium-iron phosphate battery technology, the Rokion units recharge their batteries on descent thanks to regenerative braking. This translates to not only a longer operating time without charge, but also greater savings per vehicle over the life of the mine, according to Rokion.

Rokion trucks can navigate mine sites with 20% grade at a full gross vehicle weight and full speed while traveling more than 70 km per charge, according to the company. This is more than enough to get through a full shift without charging.

This means the vehicles are typically only charged after the 10.5-hour shift is complete at Creighton, according to Van Den Enden. The larger R400 (pictured), which includes a six- to 12-passenger crew truck and a three- to nine-passenger utility option, has completed two shifts on a single charge during testing.

When charging is required, the Rokion units can rely on existing mine power infrastructure, with the charging procedure no different to the way people top up the charge on their Tesla vehicles, Rokion says. The company worked within the Global Mining Guidelines Groups’ BEV guidelines to design this standardised system.

Vale’s Van Den Enden said the operation of both the R100, which includes a four-passenger crew truck and two-passenger utility truck option, and the R200, which has a four-passenger crew truck and two-passenger utility truck option, has “exceeded our expectations”.

He explained: “We have roughly 1,200 hours on these units and we see advantages with the availability.”

While availability is a key selling point, Rokion says its battery-powered vehicles have been designed for simple and easy maintenance. The modular change-out options – which extend to both the battery and drive system – are “ideal for remote mining locations where the priority is to have dedicated service personnel with expertise in production mining equipment”.

Rokion explained: “A mine is not going to hire an expert in battery power when introducing a new truck such as this, so we take that aspect out of the equation, compartmentalising our battery systems into a modular form so that they can be easily switched out.”

Mine operators can visualise the operation of their vehicle assets by accessing a live fleet management system that streams data between the truck and site operations team, according to Rokion. This helps customers identify vehicles that are low on power or may need servicing. Customers also have the option of having this data routed to Rokion for additional support, the company says.

“Managing this data into useful information has become a valuable tool in helping to improve operational efficiencies for our customers,” the company said.

While there is the very real prospect of Rokion selling more units to Vale’s Creighton operation, it is also working with the miner on refining its latest R400 unit, which, it says, was engineered to be the company’s most adaptive and modular truck platform.

Van Den Enden said the R400 unit was just finishing up the testing phase with the Creighton mining department, with the machine having performed well. He said the two firms were currently working on a “minor update” for the next series of this unit.

Maestro Digital Mine makes connections in Latin America

Maestro Digital Mine’s Latin America expansion is gaining traction, with the Sudbury-based company recently landing sales from major gold mines in Argentina.

Its flagship Industrial Internet of Things measurement and control instrumentation solutions, such as the Vigilante AQS™ and Zephyr AQS™ air quality monitoring stations, and the Plexus PowerNet™ last mile communication platform, are designed to provide the visibility and communication miners require to keep up productivity and improve safety while operating at increasing depths

Having successful launched these products in over 130 mines, in more than 20 countries around the world, Maestro started its strategic outreach and market research in Latin America last year.

Maestro’s says its distribution channels are vital to its success in this area and, as part of the Maestro sales team, provide valuable feedback, access and service to potential clients in Latin America.

This strategy saw it partner with associations that assist with market research and business-to-business meetings, such as the Mine Connect (formerly SAMSSA), and the Northern Ontario Export Program led by the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) and Mining Suppliers Trade Association (MSTA), as well as secure four new distributors/agents in the key mining hubs of Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico to support this growth.

This investment is already starting to pay off, with the company recently landing significant contracts across the region.

In Argentina, Yamana Gold’s Cerro Moro mine, in the Santa Cruz province, is installing the Plexus PowerNet solution. This delivers a high speed, low latency digital communication network that provides “PoE+ power” to Wireless Access Points, cameras and any other IP-based device, Maestro said. The system eliminates the need for costly outside fibre optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson, according to Maestro.

Cerro Moro, an open-pit and underground gold-silver operation, poured its first gold and silver doré back in May 2018 and, up until recent COVID-19-related restrictions hit mining operations, was expected to produce 117,000 oz of gold and 7.5 Moz of silver in 2020, according to the miner.

In that same province, Maestro has also installed the last mile communication solution at Newmont’s Cerro Negro mine. This operation includes five underground mines (Eureka, Mariana Central, Mariana Norte, San Marcos, Bajo Negro), one open-pit mine (Vein Zone) and one cyanide leach processing facility that yields gold recoveries of 96%, according to Newmont.

In Mexico, Maestro has installed Vigilante AQS – air quality monitoring stations in Peñoles mines. Peñoles, a subsidiary company owned by Grupo BAL, is the second largest Mexican mining company, the top Mexican producer of gold, zinc and lead and a world leader in silver production.

Coeur Mining has, meanwhile, installed and integrated the Vigilante AQS and MaestroLink software into its Mexican mines. This includes the Palmarejo silver-gold complex. The miner continues to expand Maestro’s digital solutions on each new level of its Mexico mines, Maestro said.

Maestro concluded: “With the support of our distribution partners, we are proud to be enabling worker safety and productivity in the mines of Latin America. It is through a collaborative model that Canadian suppliers can impact positive change in the global mining industry.”