Archive | Mining Education and Innovation

Could a virus spell the end of acid rock drainage? – by Molly Lempriere (Mining – February 6, 2017)

Microbes are an intrinsic element of the mining process, bringing both beneficial and dangerous side-effects. Naturally occurring micro-organisms are inevitably exposed during excavation, causing chemical reactions that vary from site to site.

Companies as large as Vale and Rio Tinto have begun to use microbes to their advantage with biomining techniques that capitalise on waning resources as regulations tighten.

Research into microbes at mine sites continues to yield benefits; one new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) has managed to identify and isolate microbes involved in acid rock drainage (ARD). This will enable strategies to counteract the damaging effects of ARD, giving mine sites control over the microbes within them and further minimising the environmental effects of mining. Continue Reading →

‘Urban mining’: UBC engineers say e-waste more lucrative than ore pulled from the ground – by Randy Shore (Vancouver Province – January 16, 2017)

Electronic waste is proving to be a far richer source of valuable metals than any ore pulled from the ground, according to mining engineers at the University of British Columbia.

PhD student Amit Kumar and professor Maria Holuszko have succeeded in “mining” copper and silver from LED lights, and they are certain that rare earth metals such as europium, cerium and lutetium can also be recovered.

Light Emitting Diodes are gaining popularity as a highly efficient alternative to incandescent and fluorescent lights and represent an increasing proportion of e-waste and a potential source of metal pollution, said Holuszko. Continue Reading →

[Mining education and research innovation] LU head proud university in ‘new league’ – by Staff (Sudbury Star – January 16, 2017)

Laurentian University president Dominic Giroux can look back on several accomplishments in 2016, including tens of millions in new government funding and donations for the university, as well as record enrolment, and his personal appointment as vice-chair of Universities Canada from October 2016 to October 2017, and as chair from October 2017 to 2019, among other honours.

Originally appointed as president in 2009, Giroux has seen many of his plans for Laurentian come to fruition, with many parts of an ambitious 2012-2-17 Strategic Plan already implemented.

He has faced his share of challenges, too, such as the tough decision to suspend programs at Laurentian’s Barrie campus earlier this year. Giroux took some time over the holidays to reflect on his near-eight-year tenure as president and the year that was in 2016, and to talk about his future vision for Laurentian University. Continue Reading →

The Mine of the Future Is Run by Drones – by Corin Faife ( – January 10, 2017)

Like the famous canaries that were first brought into coal mines from the early 1900s to detect carbon monoxide, creative solutions have long been used to mitigate some of the risk inherent in mining.

Even so, human bodies have long borne the brunt of this cramped and strenuous occupation, from the creeping ‘black lung’ of coal miners to blasting injuries from explosive flyrock. So it’s good news that the new frontier in mining is to remove them from proximity to physical danger as much as possible, perhaps one day entirely.

That’s why automation is a big deal in heavy industries like mining and construction. Leading names of the industry, like British-Australian firms Rio Tinto and BHP and Canada’s Barrick Gold, are all investing large sums of money in automating more and more of the process of mining, including an increasing use of driverless vehicles. Continue Reading →

Sudbury’s SNOLAB gets $28.6 million – by Staff (Sudbury Star – January 10, 2017)

A Sudbury-based cutting-edge, awarding-winning physics experiment has received a $28.6-million funding boost. SNOLAB, located deep inside Vale Ltd.’s Creighton Mine, is among 17 research facilities receiving support through Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Science Initiative fund.

The Major Science Initiative fund aims to secure and strengthen state-of-the-art national research facilities, enabling Canadian researchers to undertake world-class research, contribute to technology development and drive innovation.

The funding announced Monday will sustain scientific excellence at SNOLAB and ensure the facility maintains a leadership role in the global deep underground research community, the .Canada Foundation for Innovation said. Continue Reading →

China, South Africa to match mine wits – by Staff (Mining Journal – December 16, 2016)

South Africa and China will look to match – or possibly exceed – Australia’s leading position in underground mine communications and geospatial informatics through the extended mining research partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT).

Wits and CUMT earlier this month established the Joint International Research Laboratory of China-Africa Mining Geospatial Informatics at a ceremony in Xuzhou, China.

The collaboration, underway since January 2013, has directed research funds into underground communication systems, risk measurement through sensors, risk modelling and prediction of harm, but the new initiative will focus on accurately locating workers relative to mine risks, using GPS-like underground positioning. Continue Reading →

Mining Digs Deep for Automation Help – by Aaron Hand (Automation World – December 14, 2016)

When it comes to remote operations, process industries have some of the remotest, toughest conditions out there. Take that a step further—or higher or lower—and you’ve got mining. Control engineers are trying to get mining operations up and running high on mountain tops, out in the driest deserts, amid political unrest, or a mile or more below ground, struggling with connectivity or even power lines.

When trying to commission a new mine or upgrade an existing operation, chances are you want to make extra sure you get it right the first time.

Red Chris Mine is an open pit copper and gold mine in northwest British Columbia, Canada, owned by Imperial Metals. It’s a remote location on top of a mountain, near Alaska. Spartan Controls, the integrator that worked to get the mine up and running about a year and a half ago, is based in Vancouver, B.C. To get to the operation from the southern part of the province requires three flights followed by a two-hour bus ride. Continue Reading →

Sudbury company keeps miners safe using IoT sensors – by Staff (Sudbury Star – December 5, 2016)

Maestro Mine Ventilation, a Sudbury company, was recognized last week for its commercial success during the second Ultra Deep Mining Network symposium in the Nickel City. UDMN presented Maestro with its Outstanding Achievement in Commercialization award for a technical innovation which ensures the safety of underground miners.

“The rapid commercial sale of this product to some of the deepest mines in the world is a testament that Maestro’s efforts combined with UDMN funding and guidance can in fact bring technology faster to market which in turn benefits the mining industry and Canadians,” the network said in a press release.

The focus of the $35 million Ultra-Deep Mining Network (UDMN), which has 76 member companies across Canada, is to help to solve the challenge of mining in ultra-deep environments. Continue Reading →

C$5.5m invested in research to minimise mining’s environmental impact – by Anine Kilian (Mining – December 5, 2016)

JOHANNESBURG ( – A strategic partnership grants programme administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has raised $5.5-million in funding for a research network, based at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, which is researching new ways for mining companies to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment.

The University of Waterloo-led network, which is one of four across the country that received a total of nearly C$22-million in funding, is investigating new ways to stabilise mine waste and to prevent future environmental contamination.

Scientists and business leaders have joined together in these networks to tackle pressing challenges by targeting pollution, exploring enhanced manufacturing technology, developing sustainable natural resource extraction methods and modernising the stewardship of Canadian lakes. Continue Reading →

Boart Longyear establishes R&D test centre in Sudbury – by Norm Tollinsky (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – November 14, 2016)

Innovative technologies to be tested at the NORCAT Underground Centre include next generation wireline tooling, smart drill rig technology, XRF technology for examining core samples and high-speed drilling technology

Boart Longyear’s next generation drilling technology will be tested and refined in Northern Ontario for the global market following a decision by the Utah-based mining supplier to establish a research and development presence at the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology’s (NORCAT) Underground Centre in Sudbury.

The partnership was announced by Boart Longyear president and CEO Jeff Olsen and NORCAT CEO Don Duval at MINExpo. Also in attendance was Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle, who announced a $1.3 million grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to sweeten the deal. Continue Reading →

Cambrian once again among Canada’s top 50 research colleges – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – November 17, 2016)

As it has for five years, Cambrian College cracked Research Infosource’s list of Canada’s top 50 research colleges — the only college in Northern Ontario to do so.

But in its most recent ranking, for 2015, it sunk ten spots over the previous year. Cambrian ranked 44th on the list last year. It ranked 34th in 2014, 36th in 2013, 37th in 2012 and 34th in 2011 (that’s the earliest year for which information on this ranking is available on Research Infosource’s website).

“There was a change in the ranking, certainly, but I think that sort of speaks to how strong some of our other competitors are,” said Mike Commito, applied research developer with Cambrian Innovates. Continue Reading →

Local innovation aims to make mining cleaner – by Randy Shore (Vancouver Sun – November 7, 2016)

The distances between points of interest in the Yukon are vast, but those day-long drives gave mining executive Doug Eaton time to think. He has thought about a lot of things, including the carbon footprint of fossil fuel-burning electricity generators used to power remote mines.

“We don’t get much sun, and the wind is variable, so there aren’t a lot of viable alternatives,” said Eaton, president and CEO of Strategic Metals. “I wanted to come up with a solution that had the social license needed to develop a project.” He was also pondering ways to convert the acidic waste from gold and silver mines into a stable, benign form that could simply be harmlessly shovelled back into the ground.

“The Faro lead-zinc mine was developed back in the ’60s — in the way that mines were run back then — and the company went into bankruptcy,” said Eaton. Cleaning up the notoriously polluted Yukon mine site could cost the Canadian government as much as $800 million, according to a report by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Continue Reading →

Robotics and automation will reduce mining employment by about 50% by 2030 (Next Big – November 4, 2016)

Economist, lawyers and sustainable investment studies at the International Institute for Sustainable Development have a paper that looks at the mining industry. They look at how automation will effect mining jobs.

Given the fundamental uncertainty and longterm nature of automation technologies, we do not focus on them in this study, instead assessing new technologies that arebeing piloted today, which will be carried forward in the near-to-medium term. These technologies include:

1. Autonomous haul trucks and loaders: One person alone can already remotely operate a small fleet of these autonomous trucks. Improvements in software are likely to allow this to be performed even more efficiently by algorithm-driven computer programs. Driverless technology can lead to a 15 to 20 per cent increase in output, a 10 to 15 per cent decrease in fuel consumption and an 8 per cent decrease in maintenance costs. Continue Reading →

Automation becoming more prevalent in mining, says executive (CBC News Sudbury – November 03, 2016)

Automation is the key to the future of innovation in the industry, experts say

Mining companies are starting to transform how they operate, namely by embracing automation in underground work, according to a senior executive at Barrick Gold.

Michelle Ash, the senior vice president of transformation and innovation for the Toronto-based mining company spoke at the mining innovation summit in Sudbury, Ont., which wrapped up Tuesday. The wear and tear on the componentry is significantly less,” she said of the use of automated equipment underground.

“We’ve seen that in our Hemlo Mine, where trucks have gone in for their major rebuild at 20,000 hours and … everything is almost pristine.” A number of components didn’t even need to be replaced, she added. Continue Reading →

Ontario invests C$2.5m in mining R&D; Minister outlines progress to position province as mining leader – by Henry Lazenby ( – November 2, 2016)

VANCOUVER ( – The Ontario government on Tuesday announced that it would invest C$2.5-million in the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation’s (CEMI’s) ongoing work with the Ultra Deep Mining Network (UDMN), which is helping the mining sector develop and adopt commercially viable innovations. Part of a five-year initiative first started in 2014, the programme has created nearly 30 jobs in Northern Ontario to date.

The province, in partnership with the federal government, is supporting this research initiative by CEMI and UDMN, which will help mining companies and organisations develop technologies to enhance the safety, efficiency and sustainability of their operations.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle made the announcement during the Mining Innovation Summit 2016, hosted by Ontario in Sudbury. “Today’s Mining Innovation Summit and our investment in CEMI are proof Ontario is committed to supporting the future of the mining sector and ensuring that we are the global leader in sustainable mineral development. Continue Reading →