Next-Generation Technology for Underground Mines
Many underground hard rock mines have progressed deeper to access ore reserves, resulting in more complex extraction, higher costs and declines in labour productivity. Additionally, with decreased head grades, the energy required to extract minerals has increased.
Continuous and automated underground mining, powered by electric and low emission technologies, will transform how ore is extracted and transported, reducing the industry’s overall environmental and energy footprint.
Specific technical challenges include identifying, developing and implementing new electric-based technology and heavy equipment to:
- Mechanically cut rock underground, replacing explosives
- Remove oversize ore in near real time, replacing the current batch process with a true continuous process
- Sort ore from waste continuously underground
- Transport ore to the surface
- Develop standards for the adoption of electrical equipment in Canadian underground mines.
- Develop a technology platform that allows for rapid implementation of real-time management and control of underground operations, complete with analytics capability to allow for rapid decision making
Project Progress Sheets
- Contract with an expert in mechanical cutting to help consortium members learn the state of the art in mechanical cutting
- Visit OEMs of mechanical cutters and TBMs, and tour sites where mechanical cutting is currently being tested
- Identify ways in which consortium members can work together to leverage resources and share knowledge
- If feasible, design test / demonstration program at a member’s mine
- Expand the 1st edition of the guideline for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) in Underground Mining to include new information that has been learned and new technologies that have been developed
- Add a new operations section to provide recommendations for emergency response, operation and maintenance
- Add a recommendation for charger standardisation
- A series of workshops to help operators learn and share information about short interval control (SIC)
- Two key elements to the workshops: operators sharing information between each other about what they have done, what worked and what didn’t and selected technology companies presenting to the operators about their solutions
- Produce a guideline outlining the current best practices for short interval control (SIC)
- As the technologies involved are immature and changing rapidly this will not be a definitive “how-to” but rather a presentation of options that can be considered
Surface Mining: Roadmap to the Future
In February of 2018, CMIC in collaboration with Syncrude and Deloitte, conducted the first industry level workshop to create a roadmap that identified grand challenges related to surface mining and plot a pathway to tackle these challenges.
This initial work identified 10 themes namely:
- Improve orebody knowledge
- Integrated mine design, planning and scheduling
- Selective mining
- Alternative hauling technologies
- Modular mining
- Integrated operations with intelligent work environment
- Electrification and renewable resources
- Transact more efficiently
- Improve water treatment and management
This draft roadmap was released publicly at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum annual conference May 8, 2018 in Vancouver. Initial feedback has been received and will be incorporated as we progress. A second workshop in collaboration with the Global Mining Standards Group (GMG) was held May 9 to an open audience. The intent was to task participants to break down the silos between surface and underground mining and identify common challenges so that collectively we can create the next generation mining process(es). The burning question was, “Why do we have separate roadmaps for surface and underground mining?” The output from this inaugural workshop is the 2018 Surface Mining Report. This work was supported by Natural Resources Canada.