Archive | Mining Education and Innovation

Cambrian College receives $2.1M research grant: A collaboration with mine business partners for the next five years – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – June 26, 2017)

The future is looking more secure for several innovation projects at Cambrian College in Sudbury with a large grant coming their way.

Cambrian Innovates, the applied research division at the college, and three mining industry partners will benefit from a $2.1-million grant aimed at supporting a five-year Mine Environmental Stewardship Initiative.

The grant is coming from the federal government’s National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) program. The funds were secured through an Innovation Enhancement grant that will support a five-year Mine Environmental Stewardship Initiative. Continue Reading →

Laurentian students making a name in mining – by Harley Davidson (Sudbury Star – June 24, 2017)

Two St. Catharines natives are part of winning teams in this year’s MINED Open Innovation Challenge, offered by the Ontario Mining Association to mining and engineering students.

Adam Grinbergs and Sarah Bulanda, Laurentian University students, are members of the first and second place teams, respectively. The program tasked engineering students to come up with solutions to hypothetical mining problems.

Their case study presented them with the challenge of cooling down underground mines. Grinbergs’ team came up with a concept called Deep Water Cooling, in which cool water from the bottom of the Great Lakes is pumped into the mine and misted into the air. Grinbergs says the process of cooling deep mines is essential, with temperatures in mines rising an average of 1 degree Celsius per 100 metres depth. Continue Reading →

A breath of fresh air for deep mining: Century-old technology readapted to cool air in ultra-deep mines – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – June 22, 2017)

A new attraction on display at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury is bringing a century-old invention to the modern age with the aim reducing the costs of deep mining. The Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) demonstrator was unveiled at the tourist attraction with much fanfare on June 21.

The 100-foot-tall industrial scale system for testing and demonstrating air compression was installed in its own headframe in a former elevator shaft that used to be a part of Big Nickel Mine. “This project is going to do so much more than develop a new air circulation system, it’s going to rewrite the textbook on thermodynamics,” said project lead Dean Millar in an interview.

“This will make deep mining here in Sudbury, and ultimately the rest of the world safer, more cost efficient and greener.” The HAC Demonstrator project is a joint undertaking of a Sudbury research consortium involving the Ultra-Deep Mining Network (UDMN), MIRARCO Mining Innovation, Laurentian University, Electrale Innovation, Reasbeck Construction, Independent Electricity System Operator, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and Dynamic Earth. Continue Reading →

Australian miners lag on innovation and technology – report – by Esmarie Swanepoel ( – June 20, 2017)

PERTH ( – A report by global consulting firm VCI has warned that the Australian resources sector is falling short on innovation and technology strategy.

VCI’s ‘State of Play’ report surveyed over 800 leaders from 321 companies in the global mining industry and uncovered that, while 66% of Australian mining executives say their companies are prepared for digitalisation, only 26% are focusing on innovation plans that extend beyond just three years.

Despite nearly 98% of Australian mining company leaders indicating innovation is ‘important’ or ‘critical’ to their long-term business strategy, when it came to their company’s focus on a long-term strategy, Australia ranked last in the globe, trailing other major mining regions including South Africa, India and North America. Continue Reading →

Mining’s role in Canada’s next 150 years – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – June/July 2017)

On July 1, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary. Of course, I would normally take this opportunity to recognize the mining sector’s contribution to Canada’s wealth and its importance in our history. However, CMJ’s news editor Marilyn Scales did an excellent job tracing some of the industry’s history and accomplishments in her editorial in our February issue.

So rather than rehashing the sector’s contribution to Canada’s first 150 years, I’d like to take a moment to imagine what our industry could contribute to Canada’s future.

Most Canadians – even if they are aware of the vast amount of wealth mining has contributed to the nation and the role the sector played in establishing Toronto as a global mining finance centre – associate it with our past.  But the mining sector is in the midst of a seismic transformation. Continue Reading →

A drone’s-eye view of mining safety at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott – by Amy Joi O’Donoghue ( – June 14, 2017)

BINGHAM CANYON — At about $2,000 apiece, drones have become an invaluable set of eyes for the mining operations at Rio Tinto Kennecott, providing real-time 3-D mapping, equipment inspections and surveillance of slopes, crests and walls.

The five drones at the Bingham Canyon mining operation are the result of a four-year effort by the company to boost employee safety and provide enhanced capabilities of surveying one of the world’s largest open-pit mines. “The potential we can unlock with these is only limited by the imagination,” said David van Hees, drone programs lead for Rio Tinto Kennecott.

Drone pilots go through rigorous certification offered by an aviation company, and each pilot conducts preflight safety checks. Multiple flights lasting about 18 minutes happen daily, and each pilot works with two spotters who measure wind speed and look for potential aerial hazards. Continue Reading →

RENEWED DIGGING: The US coal industry’s future could be to mine rare-earth metals for wind turbines – by Akshat Rathi ( – June 15, 2017)

In an era where every country in the world—apart from the US, Syria, and Nicaragua—is bound by commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it should be little surprise that the demand for coal is falling fast. Despite these global trends, US coal is looking for ways to revive its dying industry.

One idea is to change its product: instead of mining coal to burn as a source of fuel, it could mine coal for crucial metals found in it.Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. Not only does it produce the most amount of carbon dioxide pollution for each unit of energy, it contains non-hydrocarbon chemicals that, when burned, release dangerous toxins into the air. These include a strategically important group called “rare-earth metals.”

These metals, such as neodymium and scandium, are used in everything from smartphones to wind turbines. They’re also used in guided missiles and other defense applications. That is what makes them a strategically important resource, and for the last decade or more, China is responsible for the production of over 90% of global rare-earth metals. Continue Reading →

Earth observation satellites starting to bring benefits to mining sector – by ( – June 2, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – At last month’s International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment, held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, one of the very many topics addressed was the use of remote sensing, particularly from earth observation (EO) satellites, to support the mining sector. This is an emerging endeavour but it is already showing much promise.

“Oil, gas and mineral deposits are the raw materials that drive the global economy,” points out the European Space Agency on its website. “As existing reserves dwindle, ensuring an adequate supply for the future requires the exploration of frontier regions for new supplies.

Hospitable and inaccessible environments such as desert and Arctic regions are increasingly the focus of survey activities, but exploration managers find it demanding to operate in such uncharted territory, often lacking detailed maps and basic geological information about the areas they are interested in. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Laurentian researcher gets key grant for work in biomining – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – May 29, 2017)

Laurentian University researcher Nadia Mykytczuk’s recent Early Researcher Award served as affirmation of the value of her work, as well as assurance that work will continue uninterrupted.

Mykytczuk, who works out of the Vale Living With Lakes Centre as Laurentian’s NOHFC Industrial Research Chair, received $140,000 from the provincial government to fund her project aimed at developing cost-effective, energy-efficient ways to recover metals and reduce environmental impacts from mine wastes using microbes.

“It’s excellent support, to apply for these very competitive grants and then to be a recipient means that I’m not only doing a good job at being a researcher, but that I’m actually standing out there and being able to get a competitive grant like this to support my early research,” Mykytczuk said. Continue Reading →

Cambrian gets $2.1M for mining initiative – by Staff (Sudbury Star – May 26, 2017)

Sudbury as mining’s ‘Silicon Valley’

Cambrian College’s applied research division, Cambrian Innovates, and local mining industry partners will benefit from a $2.1-million dollar investment from the federal government’s National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada College and Community Innovation program.

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre and Sudbury’s Paul Lefebvre announced the funding on behalf of science minister Kirsty Duncan during a press conference at Cambrian on Thursday.

“Greater Sudbury has produced multiple integrated mineral processing facilities making it a region with the highest concentration of mining and mining associated activity in North America,” Lefebvre said in a statement. “Cambrian College’s work and this investment solidifies Sudbury’s place as a global mining leader.” The funds were secured through an innovation enhancement grant that will support a five-year Mine Environmental Stewardship Initiative. Continue Reading →

Innovation upping safety game underground – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – May 23, 2017)

Northern Ontario gold mines using technology to keep workers safe

“Safe. Simple. Green. Silent. Invisible.” It’s a tagline Goldcorp has adopted for its developing Borden gold project, located near Chapleau, and it’s no coincidence that “safe” is the leading word in the statement.

Located in a pristine area on the shores of Borden Lake, the proposed mine is in the early stages of advanced exploration, but already several decisions have been made about the mine in keeping with Goldcorp’s efforts to minimize the impact on the environment and its workers.

“We intend to leave next to nothing for a footprint there,” said Peter Calnan, Goldcorp’s director of operational support and change management, during the 2017 Workplace Safety North mining conference in Sudbury. “You will hardly know there’s a mine there as you drive by.” Yet within its depths, the mine will be home to some sophisticated equipment and tools designed to make work safer for the 200 or so employees that will toil underground. Continue Reading →

Mining industry looks towards a new wave of automation – by Eric Barker (Australain Broadcasting Corporation Rural – May 23, 2017)

Australia’s mining industry continues to push the boundaries of automation with the use of robots and remote-controlled equipment expanding in the industry. Automation in mining has a long history as companies look to extract minerals more efficiently and more safely.

However, the new wave of automation has been tipped to change the employment landscape of the industry. James Cook University professor Ian Atkinson said it was likely some jobs would be lost but expected it to happen over a long period of time.

“It’s not just taking workers out and putting a machine in, it’s going to happen really quite gradually for a long time yet.” Professor Atkinson said although automation had the potential to take some jobs it could also provide new employment opportunities. “You’re not going to be using machines to build new mines, people will still be doing that because that’s very non-routine,” he said. Continue Reading →

Mining world looks to Northern Ontario for innovation – by Norm Tollinsky (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – May 18, 2017)

Congratulating mining contractor Cementation for its grand prize victory at the Disrupt Mining event co-sponsored by Goldcorp and Integra Gold during the PDAC in March, Rick Howes, president and CEO of Dundee Precious Metals made an observation about the important role that Northern Ontario plays in the global mining industry.

“I’m a Northern Ontario boy. I spent most of my career in Northern Ontario and I see how far we’re spreading our influence globally,” Howes told a standing room only audience attending a panel discussion sponsored by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation.

Fellow panelist Fred Stanford, former president of Ontario Operations for Vale and currently president and CEO of Torex Gold Resources works in Mexico, said Howes. “I work in Europe and Africa.”

Rick could have gone on an on. Roy Slack and Alun Price Jones, the two Cementation executives who are championing the company’s innovative injection hoisting solution that wowed the Disrupt Mining judges are from North Bay. Continue Reading →

Canadian Industry leaders debate state of mining technology (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – May 18, 2017)

Following are edited excerpts from a Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) panel discussion at the PDAC March 6th featuring Zachary Mayer, manager, mine technical services, Kidd Operations, Glencore; Rick Howes, president and CEO, Dundee Precious Metals; Fred Stanford, president and CEO, Torex Gold Resources; and Conor Spollen, COO, Canada and the U.K., Vale Canada. The discussion was moderated by Steve Paikin, host of the popular TV Ontario current affairs program, The Agenda.

Steve Paikin: What are the most pressing technology problems facing the underground mining industry?

Zach Mayer: At Kidd, we’ve done a lot over the last four or five years…We have autonomous loaders and Canada’s largest ventilation-on-demand system. We have wireless communication, proximity warning, collision avoidance and super sophisticated geotechnical modelling.

From my perspective, the hardest thing is just selling the idea of why we need to put all this stuff in, what it’s going to do for us. Coming up with a business case has always been a challenge. Luckily, we have the right people in the right places who understand the KPIs we’re going after. Continue Reading →

Sudbury’s Laurentian Research study gets overwhelming response from miners – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – May 17, 2017)

Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) is making progress on its Mining Mental Health study, which aims to study mental health in miner’s across Vale’s Ontario operations.

As researchers with the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) prepared to launch their Mining Mental Health study, they needed about 30 workers for a pilot project to test out their survey before getting the study underway.

It was just a precursor to the actual research, but a whopping 80 workers came forward, and many were disappointed when they were told they weren’t needed, said Dr. Michel Larivière, associate director at CROSH, an initiative of Laurentian University in Sudbury. Continue Reading →