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When the best solution doesnâ€™t exist, we create it. Stantec has designed and built some of the most technically challenging hoisting systems in the industry and has done so with minimal disruption to mine production.
Design with community in mind Stantec.com/mining Photo reproduced with the permission of BHP. (Source: BHP)
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER | SEPTEMBRE/OCTOBRE | 2017
A short solution for the long haul Mining companies have been collecting data for years, but it is only recently that they have started to figure out how to integrate, process and act upon that information By Peter Braul
47 Atlantic pearls
51 Interactive engineering
Atlantic Goldâ€™s Moose River Consolidated project is a product of careful planning
Augmented reality, mixed reality and the future of project engineering and design
By Eavan Moore
By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
September/October â€˘ Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 5
CIM MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER | SEPTEMBRE/OCTOBRE 2017
in each issue
8 10 12
Editor’s letter President’s notes Chatter
tools of the trade
The best in new technology Compiled by Elle Crosby
Recent good fortunes in mining and exploration founded on Chinese demand and Canada’s good reputation
By Cecilia Keating
Zinc price highest in a decade due to increased demand and decreased output
By Elle Crosby
New B.C. government joins fight against Trans Mountain expansion, reviews “professional reliance” system
CIM Journal Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly
By Kate Sheridan
Georgius Agricola’s “De Re Metallica” was the seminal text on metallurgy and mining for centuries By Cecilia Keating
How to make Canada a competitive mining jurisdiction once again
By Mauro Chiesa
New leadership and new technology inspired a digital revolution at Lac des Iles By Eavan Moore
CEMI’s mining data centre in Sudbury provides hub for connecting miners and digital service providers By Christopher Pollon
Caterpillar’s Stacey DelVecchio discusses the company’s foray into additive manufacturing
Table des matières
Lettre de l’éditeur | Mot du président Comment redonner au Canada son statut d’autorité minière concurentielle Par Mauro Chiesa
Le projet Moose River Consolidated d’Atlantic Gold est le fruit d'une planification minutieuse Par Eavan Moore
By Elle Crosby
Nous publions progressivement sur notre site Internet les articles du CIM Magazine en version française.
6 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Face to face with the future had never seen the man before in my life, but there he was, striding toward me in the office building lobby with his eyes locked on mine and talking to himself. It was frightening. I only recognized the peculiar design of his Google Glass when he got close and realized I was simply in his line of sight as he chatted on his device and gazed into the tiny screen on his face. Soon after, this form of wearable tech became the fun new attraction on the mining trade show floor. Whether it proves valuable or not, new technology, when it first appears, tends to be disconcerting. It leaves you a little rattled as you try to understand what it does, what it means and how it may change your place in the world. With this issue, we have a number of perspectives on this theme. The operations team at North American Palladium (NAP) is in the process of reimagining how a hard rock mine operates now that it has the digital infrastructure to attempt real-time monitoring. At the same time, they are also learning how to respond to the disruptive impact that the roll out of this technology has had on the workforce. Eavan Moore relates their experience in “A time for change” (p. 34).
eth R. Wilson enn Aw 5K
This issue’s cover Barrick’s Cortez mine. Courtesy of Barrick Gold
In “Interactive engineering” (p. 51), Alexandra LopezPacheco details where the idea of augmented reality that inspired Google Glass has led us. Yes, when you slip on a headset and see a mine projected in the room around you it is impressive, but once you get beyond that, engineers and geoscientists continue to discover the practical advantages of having a tool that gives you the power of virtually changing your place in the world. And with “A short solution for the long haul” (p. 40), Peter Braul connects with mining’s early adopters of real-time monitoring, or “short interval control,” and gets their perspectives on why they are doing it, how it is developing and what it takes to make it work. NAP’s CEO James Gallagher is convinced that the approach will soon become standard practice. The caveat for such innovations, however, is that when you find yourself in a stare-down with new technology, you must not lose your nerve. The tech is there to serve you, not the other way round.
Editor-in-chief Ryan Bergen, email@example.com Executive editor Angela Hamlyn, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing editor Andrea Nichiporuk, email@example.com Section editors Tom DiNardo, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kelsey Rolfe, email@example.com Copy editor Marilena Lucci, firstname.lastname@example.org Web content editor Maria Olaguera, email@example.com Contributing editor Eavan Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial intern Elle Crosby, email@example.com Digitization technician Marie-Ève Lapierre, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Peter Braul, Mauro Chiesa, Cecilia Keating, Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, Eavan Moore, Christopher Pollon, Kate Sheridan Editorial advisory board Alicia Ferdinand, Mohammad Babaei Khorzhoughi, Vic Pakalnis, Steve Rusk, Nathan Stubina Translations Karen Rolland, CNW and Annick Vallée Published 8 times a year by: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum 1250 – 3500 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West Westmount, QC H3Z 3C1 Tel.: 514.939.2710; Fax: 514.939.2714 www.cim.org; email@example.com
Ryan Bergen, Editor-in-chief firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_CIM_Mag
Advertising sales Dovetail Communications Inc. Tel.: 905.886.6640; Fax: 905.886.6615; www.dvtail.com Senior Account Executives Janet Jeffery, email@example.com, 905.707.3529 Neal Young, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905.707.3525 Subscriptions Online version included in CIM Membership ($187/yr). Print version for institutions or agencies – Canada: $275/yr (AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, SK, YT add 5% GST; ON add 13% HST; QC add 5% GST + 9.975% PST; NB, NL, NS, PE add 15% HST). Print version for institutions or agencies – USA/International: US$325/yr. Online access to single copy: $50. Layout and design by Clò Communications Inc. www.clocommunications.com Copyright©2017. All rights reserved. ISSN 1718-4177. Publications Mail No. 09786. Postage paid at CPA Saint-Laurent, QC. Dépôt légal: Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. The Institute, as a body, is not responsible for statements made or opinions advanced either in articles or in any discussion appearing in its publications.
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Printed in Canada 8 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Mining, regulations and permits
“Contract changes and permit delays… are becoming more common, which neither instills investor confidence, nor creates jobs.”
Over the last four decades there have been significant increases in regulations and permits that govern mining. Some governments unilaterally change or cancel regulations and permits to the detriment of companies. In addition, the process to obtain a permit can be extraordinarily long, even in Canada. And once granted, the permits can be revoked, often due to the dogged work of adversarial NGOs intent on stopping mine development of any kind. Examples are numerous. Tanzania recently stopped export of concentrate from Acacia Mining, which is majority-owned by Barrick Gold. This was followed with an invoice for $190 billion in back taxes and interest, for allegedly under reporting exports over the period 2000 to 2017. Negotiations are continuing but President Magufuli has threatened to close all gold mines if dispute negotiations are delayed. Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia is another example. In January, copper/gold concentrate export stopped after the government issued new regulations to address the export of refined materials. After months of negotiations, exports have resumed with Grasberg having to address the need to build an expensive smelter and new domestic ownership requirements. Again, negotiations continue. In both cases, whether or not there is merit for changes by the governments, their tactics are “strong arm”. Unfortunately, such behaviour is not a risk confined to developing countries. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Edmonton to Vancouver is a case in point. The federal and British Columbian governments have both approved the project after several years of permit submissions and independent reviews. However, the approval came with close to 200 conditions. In addition, two dozen Canadian and international banks have committed over $7 billion to the project. Unfortunately, the newly installed NDP-Green party coalition government in B.C. has outlined its plans to stop the expansion, which Kinder Morgan estimates could generate 15,000 jobs during its construction. The above examples highlight the difficulty the mining and energy industries have encountered to initiate and complete a project. Contract changes and permit delays, whether in developed or developing nations, are becoming more common, which neither instills investor confidence, nor creates jobs.
Kenneth (Ken) G. Thomas CIM President
10 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
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RYAN BERGEN @Ryan_CIM_Mag
ANGELA HAMLYN @AngelaH_CIM
RE: “FEEDING FRENZY” (AUG’17)
Cobalt is not the only mineral in the batteries. Good quality crystal flake graphite is an essential ingredient too. Several mining companies are developing or about to mine these resources at the moment. – David Rosser Flavor of the week. Pity the junior investors.
ANDREA NICHIPORUK @Andrea_CIM_Mag
– Richard Fink
TOM DiNARDO @Tom_CIM_Mag
RE: A TOOL FOR THESE TIMES (AUG‘17)
Although I believe that software can help, I'm not sure we should rely too much on them when it come to capex changes. Increases or changes in fleet sizes or fleet type have impacts on cost both at the capex and opex level. These changes are often step changes that need proper estimating. The process that is illustrated in your article is the process we need to optimize and the software can only do some parts within this process. We tend to over sell the software capabilities as they become faster and more flexible. The old saying "garbage in - garbage out" will always be valid. I believe the software can help the engineer converge towards the solution but the input needs to be valid for the full range of the estimate. – Jean-Francois St-Onge
KELSEY ROLFE @kelseyarolfe
MARIA OLAGUERA @Maria_CIM_Mag
9 Correct, JF. We should not just rely on the “optimized” output from one
scenario but run multiple scenarios to understand the differences between them and help with the decision process. At the end of the day these software are tools and we still need engineering input. But in my experience they help a lot! – Philippe Lebleu
Great overview, latest generation software and digital data collection will aid miners in optimization. – Lewis Meyer
FOLLOW US TWITTER twitter.com/CIMorg/
FACEBOOK facebook.com/CIMMag/ facebook.com/CIM.ICM/ RE: THE BANDWIDTH BACKBONE (AUG‘17)
This is great, much needed down there.
– Gabriel Bayona, @GaboBayona
INSTAGRAM instagram.com/cim_mag RE: B.C. MINING LEGEND DON MCLEOD DIES AT 88 (AUG‘17)
Condolences to the family and friends.
CHECK OUT Clark Whiting of Cementation AG details the practical advantages of virtual reality, the latest video on the Canadian Institute of Mining YouTube channel. 12 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
YOUTUBE – Danielle Simms
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tools of the trade
Load ’em up The value of a haulage fleet is in the amount of material it can move. That is why miners test the capabilities of their trucks, filling them to capacity and even adding side boards or tailgates to overload them. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the tires, potentially damaging them and slowing down the haulers. In response, Michelin has come out with XTRA LOAD Tires, a new line of rigid haul truck tires that offers improved loadbearing and speed. “These tires will let you carry more, but if you can’t fit any more, these tires will let you go faster. Either way it’s a win for the miner,” said Peter Bride, Michelin’s operational marketing manager. The tires come in two formats: “Grip” and “Protect.” Grip tires, which have 30 per cent more lug edges, are meant for soft, loose or muddy ground conditions where the priority is high traction. They also include stronger steel cables in the casing that allow for higher tire pressure, which increases loadbearing capabilities. Protect tires are for hard, sharp or abrasive conditions on flat, dry surfaces where the priority is damage resistance. The new tread pattern has more rubber on the contact patch but also allows air to travel through the pattern and keep the tire cool, allowing for higher speeds. 14 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Purpose built pipes Most underwater mining equipment has to endure constant abrasion, which is why SSAB has created its new Duroxite 100 line of overlay pipes, primarily for dredging. The Duroxite 100 Pipes’ wear resistance comes from the company’s new overlay system. “SSAB has manufactured Hardox pipes before, but they were composed of just one material,” said Lingyun Wei, a welding research engineer at SSAB. “The Duroxite pipe is an overlay system, which is stronger.” The base metal is made of mild steel while the overlay is a chromium-rich metal, which lends the pipes their durability. Based on SSAB’s wear testing, the company says the pipe will not exceed a maximum weight loss of more than 0.18 grams and guarantees the level of wear resistance at the surface and down to 75 per cent of the overlay. The company also maintains that the overlay thickness – often a difficult-to-predict aspect of overlay pipes – will never exceed plus or minus 10 per cent of the ordered thickness. The pipes are available in varying diameters, from six to 36 inches and the lengths can be cut to order. They can also be ordered with square-to-round transitions, as elbows, long sweeps or T- or Y-shaped connections. Compiled by Elle Crosby
Courtesy of Multotec
Mills perform best when the ore to be ground is the optimal size. If oversized pieces get processed, there is a greater chance there will be more rejects, leading to loss of good-quality ore. Multotec has designed a new line of cyclones that have increased accuracy to achieve the right cut point, the size at which coarse materials are separated from fine materials. “These cyclones can split 100-micron particles to grind ore to be incredibly fine,” said Rejean Foisey, general manager of Multotec Canada. The High Capacity Milling Cyclones improve accuracy in classifying, expand upon previous generations’ capacity and offer greater flexibility and a broad range of sizes. Additionally, the components of the cyclones are interchangeable and the cut point can be modified without replacing the whole cyclone. This flexibility means that if one component of a cyclone is damaged, the entire cyclone does not need to be replaced. The cyclones are made of mild steel and lined with either rubber or ceramic depending on factors like ore type, cost and wear-resistance needs. These liners can be permanent or replaceable.
Courtesy of SSAB
Courtesy of Michelin
A new generation of cyclones
Ontario goes ahead with Ring of Fire access road
Imperial Metals avoids provincial charges for Mount Polley
Zinc prices highest in a decade due to increased demand and decreased output
New B.C. government joins fight against Trans Mountain expansion, reviews “professional reliance” system
Developments Mid-year review Recent good fortunes in mining and exploration founded on Chinese demand and Canada’s good reputation While voracious Chinese demand boosted seaborne coal and zinc miners’ fortunes in the first half of 2017, nickel saw a downturn in an oversupplied market. Meanwhile, the growing electric vehicle sector propelled lithium and cobalt staking and exploration. China’s decision to pump money into its economy via credit boosted metal-intensive sectors like infrastructure and real estate and sent demand for steelmaking commodities soaring this year. According to Scotiabank commodity economist Rory Johnston, the first half of 2017 has seen “a lot of surprises” in metal prices, particularly metallurgical coal and iron ore, which “really rallied.” Given that China consumes over 50 per cent of the world’s metals, “anything [China] does has a dramatic impact,” he said. Metallurgical coal miners, like Canada’s Teck Resources, profited when this increased demand converged with two concurrent supply shocks. First, Beijing curtailed the allowable production of domestic metallurgical coal. Then Cyclone Debbie brought mining operations to a standstill in northeastern Australia, a major metallurgical coal producing region. As a result, Teck reported a profit of $577 million in its second quarter (Q2), a huge jump from $15 million a 16 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Courtesy of Teck Resources
By Cecilia Keating
Teck set a Q2 sales record for metallurgical coal this year and production records in both metallurgical coal and zinc. The company has six metallurgical coal operations it is actively mining, including Elk Valley (pictured).
year ago. It set a Q2 sales record for metallurgical coal and production records in both metallurgical coal and zinc. Teck spokesperson Chris Stannell credited the company’s stellar performance to both its steel-making business and “a tight zinc market.” The company also updated its steelmaking coal guidance in early September to between 7.2 and 7.5 million tonnes in the third quarter, up from its previous estimates of 7 million tonnes, “reflecting strong coal demand in the quarter.” Zinc, used in construction to protect steel and iron from rusting, also benefitted from boosted Chinese
demand. It, too, has had a “promising supply story,” according to Johnston, given that a number of the world’s largest mines depleted their profitable ore and closed recently. Teck’s gross profit from its zinc business unit was $153 million in Q2 compared with $99 million a year ago, and Vancouverbased Trevali Mining, with a zinc mine in New Brunswick and another in Peru, reported a $126,000 Q2 profit compared to a $335,000 loss in the same period of last year. The company also purchased from Glencore a pair of 2,000-tonne-per-day zinc mines, one in Namibia, the other in Burkina Faso. The acquisitions in late August will
developments double Trevali’s zinc output. (See story pg. 23) Nickel prices, however, deteriorated in Q2 of 2017, after the two political issues contributing to a brief uptick in prices in Q1 were resolved. In January, Indonesia relaxed its export ban on unprocessed minerals and the Philippines’ environment minister Regina Lopez, who threatened to close half the country’s nickel mines, was sacked in May. The prior bullish narrative precipitated by these two factors was an anomaly in a decade otherwise characterised by a surplus of the metal and plunging prices. Vale Canada has been struggling in a depressed market, announcing in August that it has put plans to move its Voisey’s Bay mine underground on hold. It had announced in March that operations at its historic Stobie mine in Sudbury will end this year and two months later said its Birchtree mine in Manitoba will be put on “extended care
and maintenance” as of October. Vale summarized these moves in its Q2 report to investors as “actions to adjust our supply of nickel to a lower price environment.” Despite current political volatility, the gold market has remained relatively unchanged in 2017. Johnston surmised that the instability has been offset by an “ever-rising interest rate environment.” That said, the price of gold jumped 2.25 per cent on August 11, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s antagonistic tweets about North Korea. There has been a flurry of interest and rapid project development in the “technology” metals, in particular cobalt and lithium, both high in demand and facing shortages, CRU Group analyst Alex Laugharne said. “Things are moving ahead pretty quickly,” he said. “Companies are taking advantage of much higher prices than we’ve seen historically.” Prices for both spot and contract lithium carbon-
ate have more than doubled since the start of 2015. Nemaska Lithium is targeting commercial-scale production at its Whabouchi project in Quebec by early 2019, helped along by $50 million in bought-deal financing that was completed in June. Vancouver-based Lithium Americas, which has significant projects in Argentina and Nevada, reported US$1.6 million in sales in Q2, compared to US$0.2 million in the same quarter last year. Cobalt is another key component for electric vehicle batteries. There has been a rush of staking in and around Cobalt, Ontario, and in late June, First Cobalt finalized plans to merge with Cobalt One and Cobalt Tech, creating the largest pure-play exploration company in the region. Meanwhile, Vancouver outfit eCobalt has begun pre-construction activities at its Idaho Cobalt project, the only near-term primary cobalt project in
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the United States, which is significant as cobalt occurs almost exclusively as a by- or coproduct of other minerals. Exploration is also seeing an uptick as commodities recover from a prolonged rout, and Canada is set to benefit. In its annual review of the mining industry, Mine 2017, PwC reported Canada is the world’s top destination for mining exploration investment, attracting 14 per cent of the global exploration budget last year. According to the report, this is the result of a
“guarded, frugal mindset” the mining industry has maintained to “reassure nervous and discontented investors.” This mindset results in activity in the “safest political geographies,” like Canada and Australia. “We are moving out of declining prices for the majority of commodities from around 2013 to early 2016,” Laugharne explained. More money is pumped into exploration by traditional financing “when the market moves from oversupplied or balanced into one where there is an awareness of a
forthcoming deficit.” Canada is an obvious choice in part because it “is perceived as being more jurisdictionally mining-friendly” than its safehaven competitors. Canada’s oil and gas sector has witnessed similar confidence in exploration. Petroleum Services of Canada’s July drilling activity forecast demonstrated that 3,344 wells had been drilled in the first six month of 2017, well over double the number in the first six months of 2016. CIM
Freeport-McMoRan’s Indonesian subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia will divest a majority of its shares in the Grasberg mine, one of the world’s topproducing gold and copper mines, to the Indonesian government, the company announced on August 29. Indonesia, like Bolivia and Argentina among others, is taking steps to retain more of the wealth derived from its natural resources. It passed new legislation in January requiring foreign mining companies operating in the country to sell 51 per cent of their shares to the government and commit to building local smelters for the minerals they mine within five years. The Phoenix-based company, which has been operating Grasberg since 1972, did not comply immediately but has now reached a “framework for agreement” with the government. According to the framework, Freeport will operate under a special licence (IUPK) rather than a contract of work (COW), as per the legislation; however, Freeport will retain the same legal and fiscal certainty it had under the COW. The IUPK will also grant Freeport long-term operating rights through 2041, thereby providing the company with the stability necessary to invest an estimated US$5 billion over the next five years in the transition from an open pit to an underground block caving operation. 18 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Courtesy of Freeport-McMoRan
Freeport to divest majority stake in Grasberg to Indonesia
Freeport's Grasberg mine is one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world, and the Indonesian government will soon own a majority stake in it.
The framework appears to give both parties what they want – majority shares and a smelter for the government and fiscal and legal certainty as well as long-term production for Freeport – but more work lies ahead as the “fair market value” of 51 per cent of the mine and precisely when the transaction will take place are still not settled. Representatives from Freeport declined to comment on the framework for the agreement, but Freeport president and CEO Richard Adkerson said in a press release that the company is “committed to completing the documentation [of the agreement] as soon as possible during 2017.”
When the new legislation was originally passed, Freeport did not comply because it had not received an investment stability agreement from the government. The country responded by retracting the company’s export permit for copper. Without this permit, Freeport had to partially shut down the mine for 15 weeks. Grasberg re-opened in April when Freeport and the Indonesian government signed a temporary agreement permitting Freeport to export unrefined copper. Citing issues stemming from the export ban, the company laid off ten per cent of its workforce in May, leading to months of protests by workers, which are ongoing and have turned violent at times.
developments An estimated 5,000 workers from the mine are striking, many of whom have been fired due to absenteeism. A Freeport spokesperson stated in June that the operation had about 25,000 employees and contractors reporting for work at that time, according to a – Elle Crosby Reuters report.
Ontario goes ahead with Ring of Fire access road Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne announced on August 21 that the provincial government had signed agreements with three First Nations to build an access road to the Ring of Fire. Wynne told reporters in Thunder Bay that the government is working with Webequie, Nibinamik and Marten Falls First Nations to plan and build a road that will provide all-season access to the communities and to the Ring of Fire. The provincial government will help the communities build an east-
west road connecting Webequie and Nibinamik First Nations communities to the province’s highway network north of Pickle Lake and another road connecting Marten Falls to the highway network. Wynne said the communities will begin environmental assessments by January, with construction slated for 2019. “The entire Ring of Fire region has huge potential for development that would benefit all of the communities involved and the entire province,” Wynne said in a statement. “Getting shovels in the ground to build this connection to the Ring of Fire will move us forward towards unlocking its full potential.” In May, Wynne wrote in a letter to nine Matawa First Nations in the area saying she wanted to see “meaningful progress in weeks, not months.” The government signed an agreement with the Nations in 2014 to work on environmental monitoring, resource rev-
enue sharing, infrastructure and economic supports. Marten Falls, along with other First Nations in the area, has been working on getting all-weather roads for years, which would give them greater food security and improved housing, education and economic opportunities. Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum told CIM Magazine collaborating with the provincial government on the roads gives his people a voice. “We’re sitting at the table and we’ll have the chance to put forward issues and try to resolve key issues like infrastructure, the environment and the corridor to the Ring of Fire with the government,” he said. The access road is part of the government’s 2014 pledge to invest $1 billion to develop infrastructure for the Ring of Fire. So far, attempts to get the federal government to match Ontario’s commitment have failed. The Ring of Fire, located in the James Bay lowlands about 500 kilometres
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FROM THE WIRE Toromont Industries will buy Hewitt Group, a Caterpillar and MaK dealer, for $1.02 billion in cash and shares, Toromont announced on August 28. The acquisition is the largest deal in Toromont’s 56-year history, and will significantly increase the company’s business in Quebec and Ontario and expand it to the Atlantic provinces. Toromont will have one of the largest sales territories in the global Caterpillar dealer network by adding 45 dealerships to its existing 100 locations. Hewitt, the Pointe Claire, Quebec-based family-owned company, approached Toromont looking to sell after 65 years of operation, Toromont said. Scott Maloney will be Teck Resources’ new vice president of environment this fall, the company announced on July 26. Prior to joining Teck, Maloney worked at BHP for ten years and at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria in Australia for 12, providing him with ample operational and regulatory experience in the mining industry. Michael Davies, who held the position before Maloney, has begun a phased retirement after five years with the company. Iamgold updated reserve and resource estimates for its Rosebel gold mine in Suriname on July 26. Proven and probable reserves increased by 80 per cent to 3.5 million attributable contained ounces from 2 million, based on 114.9 million tonnes with an average grade of 1.0 gram per tonne. Measured and indicated resources increased by 55 per cent to 8.9 million ounces (307.1 million tonnes at 0.9g/t) from 5.8 million, which, among other considerations, extended the mine life to 2028. The average grade of 1.0 gram per tonne and the US$1,200 per ounce gold price assumption have not changed. Stephen Letwin, Iamgold’s CEO, attributed the increases to mine planning optimization, which allowed the company to economically access more ounces.
Compiled by Elle Crosby 20 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
northeast of Thunder Bay, has one of the world’s richest chromite deposits and also contains nickel, copper and platinum. According to the provincial government, the deposits have an estimated value of $60 billion. Noront Resources, which paid US$20 million for Cliffs Natural Resources’ chromite claims in 2014 and acquired a 75 per cent interest in all of MacDonald Mines Exploration’s properties in the Ring of Fire district in 2015, now owns claims covering 85 per cent of the region. “This is a key catalyst for us,” said Noront CEO Alan Coutts. The Ring of Fire is a rich mining district, “but the five most advanced projects that Noront has are all for base metals or bulk commodities, which need 24/7 access to road infrastructure,” said Coutts. “We’re very pleased to see it moving forward.” – Kelsey Rolfe and Elle Crosby
Imperial Metals avoids provincial charges for Mount Polley Imperial Metals will not be charged under British Columbia’s environmental laws for the Mount Polley tailings dam collapse in 2014, but federal charges could still be possible. The three-year deadline for laying provincial charges against the company expired on August 4, and newlyappointed B.C. environment minister George Heyman confirmed in an August 3 statement that the joint B.C.federal investigation was not finished in time. Any provincial charges would have needed to be approved by B.C. Crown counsel. Charges are still possible under the federal Fisheries Act, where the deadline is five years for summary convictions and there is no limit for serious charges that could lead to jail time. “Potential charges remain very much in play and, in fact, potential penalties are more significant,” Heyman said in the same statement. Information from the investigation will be considered by the Public Prose-
cution Service of Canada if charges are recommended, Heyman said. Imperial Metals declined to comment on the announcement. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has been leading the investigation, and the federal environment and fisheries ministries are also involved. Environment Canada said in an email to CIM Magazine that it could not confirm when the investigation would conclude. “The length of an investigation is dependent upon the complexity of the situation and the amount of information that needs to be gathered and analyzed,” said spokesperson Marissa Harfouche. Heyman said British Columbians deserve to know what caused the dam at the copper-gold mine to fail. “The collapse of the tailings facility at Mount Polley was one of the worst environmental disasters in our province’s history. It has had tremendous consequences for the local environment and economy,” he said, adding that it “should never have happened in B.C., and it must never happen again.” When the tailings dam at Mount Polley failed in August 2014, 24 million cubic metres of water, tailings and “interstitial” water was carried into the Quesnel and Cariboo river systems, causing concern for aquatic life like the salmon that spawn in Quesnel Lake. The mine resumed operations in July 2016 with a repaired and reinforced tailings dam. “We’ve not only repaired the breach area and tied that into the existing facility, but we’ve also completely buttressed around the entire perimeter and main embankments of the tailings facility,” Steve Robertson, Imperial Metals’ vice-president of corporate affairs, told CIM Magazine at the time. Reports from B.C.’s chief inspector of mines and a panel of independent engineering experts found the failure was due to a poor design that failed to account for drainage and erosion. The British Columbia mines ministry pledged to implement many of the recommendations from both reports,
and made sweeping changes to the province’s mining code. The collapse was also the target of B.C. auditor general Carol Bellringer’s scathing report that accused the province’s mines ministry of “regulatory capture” and said it lacked a “culture of enforcement.” – K. Rolfe
Mining-friendly Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall leaves politics Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will end his political career when the Saskatchewan Party is able to find a new leader, he announced in a video posted to Facebook on August 10. In the video, Wall said he and his wife decided that, after ten years as premier, it was “time for renewal – for my party, for the government and for the province.” Wall became leader of the Saskatchewan Party in 2004 and was first elected premier in 2007 before being re-elected in 2011 and 2016. Under his leadership, the Saskatchewan Party’s agenda has focused heavily on economic development, including introducing tax credits in 2015 to bring more corporate head office jobs to the province. A supporter of Saskatchewan’s potash and uranium mining industries – the province is the world’s largest potash producer and second largest uranium producer – he has been vocal in the past about developments, and in particular job losses, in both sectors. Last year he announced his support for the merger between PotashCorp and Agrium after speaking with both companies’ CEOs. “We would want to see Sask’s interests protected and furthered,” he told reporters at the provincial legislature last August. “We would view this potentially, if it were to come to fruition, as an opportunity to perhaps pursue an even greater corporate presence in Saskatchewan on behalf of the new merged entity.”
He also responded to the loss of 500 jobs at Cameco’s Rabbit Lake uranium mine in April 2016, calling it a “terrible day for northern Saskatchewan.” Saskatchewan has consistently ranked a top mining jurisdiction in Canada and in the world according to the Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies, with the province coming in first worldwide in 2016 and second in 2015. “Brad certainly was a very strong leader for our province and for the mining industry in particular,” Cameco CEO and president Tim Gitzel told CIM Magazine. “Under his leadership, Saskatchewan became the top mining jurisdiction in the world. He realized that mining pays the bills and he focused on that.” Over the past year, Wall was a vocal challenger to the federal Liberals’ carbon pricing plan, which is being enacted to lower greenhouse gas emissions and help the country reach its Paris Agreement commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Wall asserted that a carbon tax will negatively impact Saskatchewan’s agriculture, energy and mining sectors and threatened to pursue legal action, including a possible constitutional challenge, if the province was forced to adopt a carbon pricing plan. When releasing the plan, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said she hopes “Saskatchewan will develop a plan that works best for Saskatchewan,” but added that “it is well within the federal government’s right to take action to protect the environment.” Gitzel said that regardless of whom the next premier is, “we just want to have a stable jurisdiction in which to do our business, and we want to be proud to be living in Saskatchewan. Premier Wall did that for us so we’re hoping that the next leader will do the same.”
FROM THE WIRE Pierre Julien was appointed executive vice president of origination for DRA Group on July 31. Julien will lead the company’s global origination team and identify, access and develop new opportunities for growth. Julien has worked in the mining industry for 22 years and is the CIM council representative for the Canadian Mineral Processors Society. Caterpillar’s board of directors elected former U.S. senator Kelly Ayotte, on August 10. Ayotte represented New Hampshire in the senate from 2011 to 2017. She was also New Hampshire’s first female Attorney General from 2004 to 2009 and was deputy attorney general prior to that. Ayotte will be a member of the Public Policy and Governance Committee. Canada’s longest continuously operating gold mine, Goldcorp’s Dome underground mine in Timmins, Ontario, will permanently close on December 31, the company announced on August 1. After extending the mine life in July 2016, Goldcorp said retrieving the remaining resources from the 107-year-old mine site is no longer economical. The closure will impact 140 employees, some of whom will be let go, others will be reassigned to Goldcorp’s nearby projects, such as Hoyle Pond, Hollinger and Borden. British Columbia Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon presented Mark Adams, Outotec’s regional manager for Western Canada, with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in June. The award is given on behalf of the Governor General of Canada and is meant to recognize outstanding volunteers across the country in various sectors. Adams, recognized for his work supporting Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans, was among 33 volunteers awarded the medal. He is also an active member of CIM’s Canadian Mineral Processors Society and is a past chair of its BC/Yukon branch.
Compiled by Elle Crosby
– E. Crosby September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 21
Zinc miners scramble to take advantage of rally Metal price highest in a decade due to increased demand and decreased output By Elle Crosby
Courtesy of Trevali Mining Corporation
shortage of the metal in Trevali Mining finalized Trevali finalized acquisitions of the Rosh Pinah zinc mine (pictured) and others in an China led the threeits acquisition of zinc assets effort to capitalize on the highest zinc prices in a decade. month zinc price to reach from Glencore PLC, its ten-year high. including a 90 per cent The miners that will be interest in the Perkoa mine able to benefit from the in Burkina Faso and an 80 prices are the ones that per cent interest in the are already in position, Rosh Pinah mine in which was a major motiNamibia, for US$418 milvator in Trevali’ s latest lion in cash and shares in acquisition. There are late August. The recent rise other, smaller companies in zinc prices motivated that will reap the benefits Trevali to complete the of the rally as well. transaction before the valuAscendant Resources, ation of the projects the only Canadian pure-play zinc proThe acquisition made Trevali the numbecame too lofty. ducer other than Trevali, took over the ber eight zinc producer globally. “Our timing was very fortuitous to On August 16, zinc for delivery in El Mochito mine in Honduras in get [the transaction] done in the first three months was selling for US$3,029 December 2016 and has been rehabiliquarter because, as we thought, zinc per tonne on the London Metal tating it since. The company expects to did take off and looks like it’s continuExchange, besting the previous high be cash flow positive by the end of ing to go forward with that strength in the future, which we’re looking forward mark over the last decade, which was 2017. Ascendant president and CEO Chris set in October 2007. The culmination to,” Steve Stakiw, Trevali’s vice-presiof decreasing output from major pro- Buncic said the company hopes to be dent of investor relations and corporate communications, told CIM Magazine. ducers, increased global demand and a able to take advantage of the current
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developments metal prices. “A lot of junior zincfocused companies in Canada have developed unfunded projects that won’t actually benefit from strong zinc prices if their projects aren’t completed in time. This is a multi-year rally in my expectation, and we’re set to benefit,” Buncic told CIM Magazine. Buncic pointed to the several significant zinc mines around the world that were shut down in recent years, including Vedanta Zinc’s Lisheen mine in Ireland and MMG’s Century mine in Australia, as contributing to the current zinc prices. Those two mines, which closed in 2015, reduced annual global output of the metal by cumulatively more than 500,000 tonnes. In the same year, Glencore, the biggest producer of zinc, reduced its annual zinc output by 450,000 tonnes, causing zinc prices to rise seven per cent in one day. Zinc mines with comparable outputs have not been opening, so global
inventories have been declining over the past several years but significantly so for the past three. While some miners have begun to restart operations at mines that were under care and maintenance and others have begun exploration, it will take many projects getting to production before the market finds balance again. “Zinc is very cyclical,” said Stakiw, but “the thoughts are that this zinc rally could be stronger for longer.” In terms of supply, Stakiw cited the current lack of increasing supply coming from China, as China’s increased supply was a major factor in stabilizing zinc prices after the metal’s last rally in 2007, as well as that there are no “shovel ready” tier one mines that can start production in the next three to five years as reasons why this zinc cycle could last longer. Stakiw said consumer demand for zinc has increased two to four per cent annually in recent years, driven
by global infrastructure development and expanding markets for consumer goods such as cars and appliances. In order to satisfy such increases, argued Stakiw, approximately one new tier one mine would have to start production each year. If this rate of increase is maintained, zinc prices could continue to rise over the next few years. Scotiabank’s analyst Rory Johnston affirmed this in the Scotiabank Commodity Price Index, published in late August. “Zinc’s outlook remains fundamentally strong, even though prices may temporarily fall back in sympathy with the broader metals market,” wrote Johnston. China, the largest consumer and producer of zinc, implemented several new environmental regulations that impacted the country’s ability to produce the metal, further bolstering zinc prices. More regulations in China will be implemented this winter. CIM
September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 25
McEwen Mining will purchase Primero Miningâ€™s Black Fox complex in the Timmins gold camp for $35 million, the company announced on August 10. This is the companyâ€™s second acquisition in the well-known Ontario mining camp this year, and will be its first producing mine in Canada. In the deal McEwen will get the Black Fox underground mine and mill, the Grey Fox development project and the Pike River exploration property. â€œThis acquisition will add immediately to our gold production, but it is just the beginning of a new chapter of growth for McEwen Mining,â€? Rob McEwen, the companyâ€™s chairman and chief owner, said in a news release. The purchase follows McEwenâ€™s acquisition of Lexam VG Gold, a junior miner with advanced exploration-stage
McEwen will get the Black Fox underground mine and mill (pictured), the Grey Fox development project and the Pike River exploration property in the deal.
properties in the Timmins camp, earlier this year. In that deal, announced in February, McEwen became the 100 per cent owner of Lexamâ€™s Buffalo Ankerite, Fuller and Davidson Tisdale
26 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Courtesy of Primero Mining
Primero sells Black Fox to McEwen Mining
properties, and took a 61 per cent interest in the Paymaster property. Goldcorp holds the other 39 per cent. McEwen also took over Lexamâ€™s four past-producing gold properties â€œwith
developments open-pit and underground potential” in the Abitibi greenstone belt. “Black Fox makes a lot of sense for us. It is a producing mine with spare milling capacity for Lexam ore,” Nathan Stubina, McEwen’s managing director, told CIM Magazine in an email. “So it gives us ounces today and fits in with our future growth plans.”
McEwen operates the El Gallo complex in Sinaloa, Mexico and is developing phase two of that project, and owns a 49 per cent interest in the San Jose silvergold mine in Argentina. It also has development- and exploration-stage projects in those countries and in Nevada. Black Fox produced 20,731 ounces of gold in the second quarter of 2017.
It is expected to produce between 50,000 to 60,000 ounces of gold this year. Primero said offloading the project is part of its ongoing “strategic review process” to reduce its debt. The deal is expected to close in Sep– K. Rolfe tember.
Changing of the guard New B.C. government joins fight against Trans Mountain expansion, reviews “professional reliance” system Though it is still early days for British Columbia’s new NDP government, mining associations are cautiously optimistic for a good relationship with the new government. However, recent moves could indicate that the government intends to switch up its approach to mining and resource development in the province. While the Liberals won two more seats in the May election than its closest rival, the NDP, the Green Party signed a cooperation agreement with the NDP to tip the balance and kick off the first minority government the province has seen since 1952. Two policy initiatives in that agreement – ordering a review of the province’s “professional reliance” system and pledging to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion – indicate that the government may strike a different tone than the former government in regards to resource development. “This issue of Kinder Morgan is one that was critical to [the Green Party],” Weaver said during a press conference announcing the cooperation. But Bryan Cox, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC), said the new government has not shied away from having conversations with industry groups. “The government has been really proactive in reaching out to us in industry. I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations with multiple ministers,” he said.
Screencap from Global News
By Kate Sheridan
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is “simply too great a risk to our environment, our economy and thousands of existing jobs,” B.C. environment minister George Heyman told reporters.
Cox also pointed out that during a Vote Mining campaign run ahead of the election by the province’s mining, mining supplier and mineral exploration associations, all parties were “strongly supportive of mining and ensuring we had a responsible, strong and robust mining industry.” Among the candidates who sent replies to questions for the Vote Mining campaign was environment minister George Heyman. His responses highlighted the B.C. NDP’s promises to continue the flow-through share and exploration tax credits and remove the provincial sales tax charged on electricity used in mining operations. But Heyman also announced the government would seek intervenor status in an ongoing legal challenge to the federal government’s approval of Kinder
Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a promise both the NDP and Green Party made during the election campaign. A federal court granted the government that status on August 29. Former B.C. Supreme Court justice Thomas Berger acted as the government’s external counsel, providing advice during the push to get intervenor status. Despite the legal challenges, Kinder Morgan has committed to begin construction in Alberta in September. Cox noted the government’s choice to get involved in the lawsuit was not unexpected. “The government’s position on Kinder Morgan has been part of the NDP platform for some time. I am focused on ensuring that we have a strong mining industry in British Columbia for both current operations and upcoming projects,” he said. An overhaul of the environmental review process – including specifically reviewing the government’s reliance on the opinions of qualified professionals hired by project proponents during environmental assessment reviews – is similar to one of several recommendations included in a 2016 provincial Auditor General’s report on the Mount Polley incident. “Over the last decade, the government has adopted an approach to reduce the regulatory burden on industry. This approach has increased dependence on September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 27
qualified professionals employed by industry to do the work needed to meet government’s various mandates,” the report stated. It also noted the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) normally did not independently confirm that tailings dams were built according to the designs a qualified professional submitted, nor did the Ministry of Environment have a “clear process” for reviewing data that a qualified professional reported from a mine site. The terms of the review are still being hammered out, Cox said, adding that many stakeholders — including professional associations — would need to be involved. “It’s really quite a big, broad potential discussion.” That auditor general’s report had also suggested establishing an independent unit for compliance and enforcement. At the time, the Liberal government did not fully accept that recommendation and questioned the conclusion that the government was
28 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
too dependent on qualified professionals. “We do not accept that mere appearances are sufficient to warrant the act of removing compliance and enforcement from MEM,” the thengovernment said in its response. “Over-reliance on qualified professionals is not substantiated in the context of mining,” it added. But creating an independent oversight unit is also something the new mining minister, Michelle Mungall, has been tasked with, in addition to establishing a new mining jobs task force. A spokesperson for the mining minister’s office emphasized that it was still very early in the mandate to discuss details about what Mungall may do in the future. The task force is still in the early stages. Though the terms of reference have not been established yet, “we’re very encouraged by the commitment to have a task force on sustainable mining jobs,” Cox said. “That’s something
that the government is structuring as we speak. We’re very excited to be a part of it.” As the minister responsible for climate change strategy, Heyman’s mandate letter also includes several goals to reduce the province’s carbon emissions and increase carbon taxes in line with the federal government’s goals. During the campaign, the NDP promised to begin increasing carbon taxes sooner and more gradually than the Liberals. Even as the government pushes toward a lower-carbon economy, Cox said he sees an opportunity for the mining industry. Electric motors generally require far more copper than conventional combustion engines, he noted, which could be a boon to the province’s copper miners. “When you look at where we’re going as a society – to a low-carbon economy – mining is so essential to that.” CIM
The federal environment ministry filed a request for a permanent injunction to stop Taseko Mines from carrying out a drilling program at its New Prosperity project. The petition, filed in British Columbia Supreme Court on August 10, argues that Taseko’s work would violate the 2012 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012). The government’s petition follows another injunction request filed by the Tsilhqot’in National Government on July 31 to stop Taseko’s work at the site pending the outcomes of both a petition and a civil claim. Both filings seek to quash Taseko’s multi-year permit to conduct exploratory work at New Prosperity, including test pits, drill holes and monitoring wells, which the provincial government granted the company in mid-July. After Taseko received the permit, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency warned the company in a July 28 letter that any work on the site would violate Sections 5 and 6 of the Act, the same sections under which New Prosperity was rejected by the agency in 2014, and that “enforcement action may be taken should Taseko Mines Limited not comply with the requirements of [the Act].” Sections 5 and 6 of CEAA 2012 say a project proponent may not carry out any part of their project “if that act or thing may cause an environmental effect” to federal lands, fish, aquatic species and bird habitats, or Indigenous Peoples’ health and socioeconomic conditions, physical and cultural heritage, and use of land and resources for traditional purposes. In a same-day reply to the agency’s letter, Taseko argued that because the company was only doing exploration work on the site it would not violate the sections, which it asserted pertained only to “construction, operation,
decommissioning and abandonment” of a mine. The company said the agency’s interpretation could lead to “absurd and unconstitutional effects,” like disallowing companies from collecting data for federal and provincial assessments. “The position taken by the government of Canada has potential farreaching negative implications for mine development in B.C.,” Brian Battison, Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs, told CIM Magazine in early August. “If you can’t explore for minerals without first having an environmental assessment done by Canada, then there will be no mineral exploration.” A ruling on the Tsilhqot’in’s injunction request was withheld due to the federal government’s intervention and because the company promised not to proceed with its drilling program at this time. “We commend the federal government for demonstrating the leadership to enforce its environmental laws and to help us ensure that Taseko cannot continue to tear up a very special place to our people,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William in a news release, “all for a project that has been rejected and cannot be built.” The Nation said it “looks forward to the full hearing of its legal challenges to this provincial approval,” and may, if necessary, return to court to seek a decision on the injunction in the future. New Prosperity, located 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, falls within an area the Nation does not have formal title over but says is part of their traditional territory. The project also contains Fish Lake, or Teztan Biny, which is a sacred location for the Tsilhqot’in. The Nation has specifically objected to any drilling work being done near the lake. The copper-gold project has been rejected by the federal agency twice due to environmental concerns. In 2010, the agency’s panel rejected what was then known as the Prosperity project for its proposed use of Fish Lake for tailings storage. The second review in
2014 rejected a revised project, called New Prosperity, which would avoid the use of Fish Lake, on the grounds that the project would “cause an environmental effect” to Indigenous lands and – K. Rolfe resources. Courtesy of Morien Resources Corp.
Federal government requests permanent halt on work at New Prosperity
The orders and warnings given to Kameron Collieries' Donkin mine all related to work safety issues.
Donkin mine receives several safety orders and warnings Donkin mine, the first coal mine to operate in Nova Scotia since 2001, has received 10 compliance orders and 29 warnings for violations from the Nova Scotia Department of Labour since it began production at the end of February, according to an August CBC investigation into the mine. The orders and warnings were all related to work safety issues, including missing, inadequate or non-functioning emergency equipment, explosion barriers and records. The lack of a backup ventilation fan caused the government to order the temporary closure of the mine following a power outage on March 22. The company said the underground workers were evacuated within 15 minutes of losing power, but Scott Nauss, the senior director of inspection and compliance with Nova Scotia’s occupational health and safety division, told CBC the government has no way to independently verify that. Nauss told CIM Magazine the amount of orders and warnings Donkin has received cannot be compared to another mine’s numbers since September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 29
it has “no peers to compare to.” Donkin is the only operating coal mine in the province, it is the first to operate under new provincial regulations enacted in 2008 and the underground coal mining industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the province. For these reasons, Nauss said it may be “challenging” for the mine to be in compliance with every regulation, “but my division is inspecting it very regularly and the company has shown a commitment to come into compliance very quickly,” said Nauss. The province’s Underground Mining Regulations were completely
rewritten in 2008 with specific provisions and more stringent approval requirements for underground coal mines. The regulations were influenced by the Westray mine disaster, an explosion that killed 26 coal miners in Plymouth, Nova Scotia 25 years ago in May. Following the explosion in the mine, there were several accusations of gross negligence at the site and of insufficient government regulations. “The provincial government takes occupation health and safety, and particularly mining safety, very seriously, because of Westray,” said Nauss. “We’re focusing a lot of effort into making sure this mine is in compliance.”
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Kameron Collieries, which owns Donkin, did not reply to a request for comment, but Shannon Campbell, the company’s vice-president of project development and external affairs, told The Cape Breton Post that “given the fact regulations for a subsea underground coal mine are much more stringent than a regular coal mine, it’s not unexpected to have that many compliance orders.” The federal Westray bill, which came into effect in 2004, made it possible for organizations and corporations to be held criminally liable for negligence in cases of serious injury or death on the job. Kameron Collieries is a subsidiary of Cline Group, which is headed by mining magnate Chris Cline and based in Illinois. The Cline Group has claim to approximately three billion tons of coal reserves across Illinois and the Northern Appalachia. According to data from the United States’ Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Cline Group operates at least four mines under its subsidiary Foresight Energy Labor LLC, which have varied safety records. The Deer Run mine in Montgomery County, Illinois, for example, has received just two citations and one order this year from the MSHA, whereas the MC#1 mine in Franklin County, Illinois, received a total of 238 citations and orders for the same time period. MC#1 has received hundreds of citations per year since 2012 and has reported “nonfatal occurrences” with lost workdays at a higher rate than the national average for coal mines for six out of the past nine years, including 2017. The mine has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalty fines, including in 2014 when it paid $967,387.00 for more than 600 infractions, including not having a roof control plan, not having “self-rescue devices” available for underground miners and failing to correct a “hazardous condition” or properly identify it with a “conspicuous danger sign.” – E. Crosby
30 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
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Let’s get together, Canada By Mauro Chiesa
t seems Canadian competitiveness will remain mediocre. The World Economic Forum’s 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report was published last September, and after much posturing by our new government, Canada has slipped on the competitiveness index ranking to the 15th spot down from the 13th. (New Zealand and Taiwan have passed us.) Upon closer inspection, we rank ninth in health and primary education, 24th in innovation and 23rd in collaboration between academia and business on R&D. Of course, we of the extractive industries have experienced this competitive decline first-hand. With BHP’s failed acquisition of PotashCorp, British Columbia’s failed initiative in liquid natural gas (LNG) and the stalled development of the Ring of Fire, we can see the government is sending a clear message to majors that project development will neither be guaranteed nor easy. Need some more examples? Taseko’s New Prosperity project has been rejected multiple times by the federal government. Pacific Booker’s Morrison mine was shot down by the B.C. government though the courts subsequently sided with the plaintiff, but only after a lucrative super-cycle was missed and available capital was spent on lawyers instead of the project. Furthermore, development at Seabridge Gold’s KSM project in northwestern B.C. – one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world – has stalled, and having observed the tailings dam failure at Mt. Polley and the government’s response, Alaska is concerned about potential downstream implications. Further damaging Canada’s competitive advantage is excessive public
investment in energy projects. With initiatives such as Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland and Labrador, Site C in B.C., Ontario’s green energy policy and the Keeyask project in Manitoba, the long-term energy costs and public debt-servicing costs must be considered, not to mention the lost opportunity cost of public capital.
“The opportunites have been there, but they have been missed” The opportunities have been there, but they have been missed. The B.C. initiative into LNG was well timed: The Asian market and the dearth of pipelines on that continent meant that there were new baseload clients to be had, as well as in Japan, which was rocked by an earthquake. However, B.C.’s strategy was deplorable: it assumed the private sector would arrive and plunk down billions for an export terminal with undefined or illdefined infrastructure as well as environmental, social and fiscal frameworks. The serious money left quietly and quickly. B.C. attempted a last-gasp effort to save the opportunity, but the market passed and may not return for a while. There was also the attempted takeover of PotashCorp in 2010. Although the provincial government was staunchly right-leaning, it blocked the acquisition by BHP. Why? Because it threatened to take a huge bite out of Saskatchewan’s tax revenues. At the time, potash generated 22 per cent of the province’s income. Moving east, the frustration of the Ring of Fire has underscored Ontario’s Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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antiquated mining legislation. While hinterland development benefits from a five per cent reduction in the provincial tax rate, that is not nearly enough incremental upside to cover the massive infrastructure needs of such remote projects. With infrastructure measured in the billions of dollars, and all sorts of social benefits arising there-
from, the government – unless it prefers northern Ontario to produce only gold and diamonds, which can be flown out without a need for roads or complex Indigenous accords – should reconsider the policy. So what are the lessons to be learned? Improved cooperation and collaboration between the federal and provincial governments would be a start. Relying on obsolete regulations such as Ontario’s 1930s mining legislation and ad hoc reactionary amendments is not sufficient. The solution is to bring both levels of government together and coordinate the sector with one voice because the market is not interested in cumbersome and antiquated provincial laws and feuds. Confederation gave property rights to the provinces, so they would have to cede some territory in this regard. In today’s global market, it is the country that is judged by players and they may choose to avoid Canada in favour of countries that offer more flexible and modern systems. CIM Mauro Chiesa has over 35 years of experience in financing and advising extractive and infrastructure projects. He has worked with multinational banks in New York City, at the World Bank Group and EDC.
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Courtesy of North American Palladium
RFID tags on cap lamps and supervisors equipped with cell phones to use underground are just two elements of North American Palladium’s digital revolution at its Lac des Iles operation near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
A time for change New leadership and new technology inspired a digital revolution at Lac des Iles By Eavan Moore
In the last two years, North American Palladium’s (NAP) Lac des Iles mine, located 106 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has made a complete technological turnaround – beginning with its first fibre-optic installation in 2015 up to the launch of real-time mine management in 2017. Advanced as part of a broader improvement program, the rapid succession of new technologies found acceptance because it came with careful attention to the needs of the mine’s workforce. Management at Lac des Iles hopes that investing in these technologies will improve its production efficiency and set an example among Canadian mines. “Our mine site’s really been on a constant change since 2013, when we went from a ramp access mine to a shaft access mine,” said general manager Bryan Wilson. That was the same year that Jim Gallagher moved into NAP’s corporate office in Toronto as COO with a vision of a world-class palladium mine that would produce safely at low-cost and for a global market. In 2015, Gallagher took the reins as president and CEO. Over the last four years, Lac des Iles has transitioned to a different mining method (sub-level shrinkage), which NAP credits with a 30 per cent increase in daily underground pro-
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duction in 2017. The company hopes to increase daily production by another 20 per cent by continuing the mining method changeover, but also by bringing in real-time mine management.
Growing a digital backbone The past two years of digital evolution at Lac des Iles started with just one project: The team wanted to improve its microseismic monitoring capabilities by connecting fibre-optic cables to existing sensors so that the data could be collected in real time. In the existing setup, anyone looking to retrieve these data had to drive underground and bring a memory card back up to surface. In 2015, Lac des Iles extended the fibreoptic backbone from the 825-metre mine shaft to the lower extremities of the mine. David Galea, manager of operation excellence, said what came next was driven by this question: “Now that we have this backbone that was based on microseismic monitoring, how can we use it for other things?” The obvious next step was to install a Wi-Fi network underground to allow monitoring of the haul trucks, which
digital mining had been a production bottleneck. NAP chose Toronto-based Northern Lights Technologies as a partner, and in late 2016 began to put in wireless hotspots and increase its surface server capacity to hold all the data it anticipated collecting. The fibre-optic backbone was extended from the shaft to the ramp network. Right now, there is wireless connectivity on the lower twelve levels of the mine, where most activity takes place. This year and next will see the expansion of the network into the upper areas of the 28-level underground operation. When the company turned its attention to equipment monitoring, it chose two types of technologies for the mine’s trucks: RFID tags and Symboticware equipment health monitoring. Every time a truck passes a hotspot, it sends an update to surface about the oil pressure, engine temperature and other key health metrics to help predict and prevent maintenance downtime. The RFID tags on trucks communicate their location, which mine coordinators on surface are able to track using Northern Lights software. Tags were recently added to cap lamps so that personnel location can be tracked as well. “To be able to pull all these pieces together, we’ve started setting up a control room on surface where we have full-time mine coordinator coverage,” said Galea. The mine coordinators will line up daily tasks and activities based on personnel and equipment status. Although they currently set production goals on 12-hour intervals that match the work shifts, the vision at Lac des Iles is to condense them. Intervals will go from 12 to six to ultimately real-time management as the coordinators become accustomed to the volumes of information they now have available. “There’s nobody telling us how to do this,” said Wilson. “[Dundee Precious Metals’] Chelopech is probably the only one that’s driving as hard as they are in terms of controlling real-time work. So we’re using a little bit of their model, we’re inventing our own model as we go.”
Cultural shifts Wilson characterized NAP as a small, lean organization under pressure to see success as quickly as possible. The company attained profitability in the second quarter of 2017, but much of the last seven years of operation has been a struggle against low palladium prices, low production rates and company-specific factors. To move as fast as it needed to, NAP had to make sure its employees were equally quick to get on board with proposed changes. “The ability to move as quickly as we have is a cultural shift for the organization,” said Wilson. Galea compared the digital evolution at the mine to the way Lac des Iles worked on developing a safety culture. In a safety culture, risk assessments or five-point checklists have to precede decisions. In an information-rich environment, Galea explained, a supervisor responds to a broken-down LHD by relying on the coordinator’s awareness of tradeoffs and priorities. “It’s looking at that information and saying, ‘Who’s the closest mechanic to me?’ rather than having to go on the radio and just find whoever responds first,” he said.
For frontline supervisors, this represents a significant change to the role they play. Before, they were left alone to do a lot of troubleshooting based on their own limited view of the operation. Now, with 12-hour production goals and real-time information, said Galea, “there’s a much broader view available to that supervisor, and it’s really about helping them change the way they manage: going to the coordinators and asking the questions and looking at information to be able to make better-informed decisions as they go.” What has to change in a system switch like this is not just the procedures but how employees experience ownership of their work. “The supervisors are good firefighters,” said Wilson. “I think they see the problem they’re having as their problem – but it’s not. When they’re having a problem, it becomes all of our problem. We all want to fix it as quickly as possible.” Galea and Wilson see it as critical to get input, not to force tools into people’s hands. For example, the company originally talked about getting tablets for supervisors. But in consultations, someone suggested that cell phones would be more useful and more familiar. In August 2017, the company started buying phones for supervisors to use underground. “It’s important to bring everyone along the journey,” said Galea. “I could come up with 50 different pieces of information that I could throw at a supervisor and prioritize the delivery of that info in my own way. But my order of priorities might not be the same as what the supervisors believe is valuable as an end user.” With the introduction of personnel tracking, employees asked how the information would be used. “People have concerns about being tracked if they don’t understand the purposes for it,” said Galea. “Right now, what we do is more on an as-decisions-needed basis. If there’s an issue that a supervisor or a coordinator needs to deal with, then they can have access to the information for decision making. For example, if the supervisor has a truck down in the ramp, he can call the control room and ask which trucks are above the breakdown and relocate some of the fleet to different loading locations to minimize the impact on production.” Overcoming resistance is all about continuously explaining this kind of reasoning and, when an employee does not want to participate, finding the right person to discuss the issue with one-on-one instead of letting it circulate. “I think people get nervous about change when they don’t understand what it’s for or what’s going on,” said Galea. He said he hopes the changes implemented at Lac des Iles can make it a Canadian success story. “In Ontario and Canada, we’re up against countries that have cheaper power, we’re up against countries that have cheaper labour costs, and we have to be good at our jobs,” said Wilson. “We’ve already seen some success, but we’re hoping that with some of the stuff that we’re working on, we’re going to see better production rates, faster development rates and reduced cost per tonne. Where we hope to take this, is just to be better at our jobs. We’re bringing everybody along for the ride and learning as fast as we can to be able to pioneer some of this stuff.” CIM September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 35
Courtesy of CEMI
Tapping big data CEMI’s mining data centre in Sudbury provides a hub for connecting miners and digital service providers By Christopher Pollon
rom exploration to reclamation, mines generate massive amounts of data. But information without analysis is useless. So how do you effectively use this growing commodity to maximize efficiency while expanding knowledge and improving the bottom line? Marcus Thomson, director of the Innovation and Prosperity Office at the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), is focused on this and other questions through his work at the new Mining Observatory Data Control Centre (MODCC) at the underground SNOLAB facility in Vale’s operating Creighton nickel mine near Sudbury, Ontario.
CIM: What was your career path leading to your work with digital technology at CEMI and the MODCC? Marcus Thomson: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in data, communication technology, information systems and analytics. I’m a graduate of Laurentian University’s Commerce program (I’m currently completing an MBA), and before joining CEMI, I worked for large telecommunications and software companies, as well as a medium-sized mining service and supply company. In all these organizations, I witnessed the impact of well-managed data systems. 36 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
CIM: What is the MODCC, and what need was it created to answer? Thomson: The goal is for the MODCC to become a powerful user- and data-interpretation interface that can search, collect, filter and analyze mining- and exploration-related datasets. The impetus came from two academically driven programs that started around 2010. CEMI’s S.U.M.I.T. program focused on smart underground monitoring technologies for deep mining and NSERC-CMIC had another program called Footprints, which looked at the different data types used to discover the footprints of ore bodies. Both programs were very data driven and what was missing was a geoscience platform to incorporate all these different data types and expedite all the work that was being done. So the MODCC came out of that.
CIM: What is at the space currently – it’s a brick and mortar and a virtual presence? Thomson: Yes, the MODCC is a physical incubation space that offers low-cost managed IT services and fast connectivity to several data-driven mining industry start-ups. It’s also a virtual presence for hosted mining datasets. A company called Mira Geoscience has built an integrated geoscience platform (Geoscience INTEGRATOR) that takes structured and unstructured data and enables modelling, both in 3D and 4D,
“When you don’t have to hunt down the correct data that you need to come up with the research you are looking to do, it makes it so much easier.”
the latter of which is time based. The tool then gives you the ability to do 3D data visualization, machine learning, it has live web browser access, and you can have send- and receive-email reports. So currently, mining data from S.U.M.I.T. and Footprints resides in INTEGRATOR at the MODCC, and it can be used to generate insights unlike anything ever before.
CIM: Can you give me an example of the kinds of projects you plan to work on with Canadian mining companies in the short term? Thomson: The latest project at the MODCC, with support from the Canadian government, is called the Smart Mining Demonstration Program. It involves working directly with mining companies on reduced-cost, data-driven innovation projects that bring multiple small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and different data sources together to build out what we call “use cases.” For example, one we are focused on now looks at something called “short interval control.” Short interval control has been implemented all over the world – in Finland, Sweden, the U.S., Australia, and more. This involves digitizing supervisor forms and vehicle information, then using underground connectivity to share the information with the control room. Now, the control room workers know whether you are going to hit your targets for the day, and if not, you can do something about it. So the basis of short interval control is: can we get information before it’s too late to do anything with it, and can we make sure our workers are being as effective as possible? [See feature pg. XX]
CIM: What is the value of such an approach? Thomson: Mines that have implemented short interval
we seek to serve: Canadian mining companies and Canadian SMEs.
CIM: How do you plan to engage SMEs? Thomson: With SMEs we want to support them not only with that physical space, but also with the resources they need to develop their technology. Beyond the hosted datasets available virtually through the MODCC, that might be enabling relationships with large providers of cloud computing, with machine learning algorithms, and so forth, which can lower the cost of developing technology. And, through our Smart Demonstration program, we’ll have the opportunity to engage specific SMEs with real-life opportunities for them to innovate and partner with other innovators from across Canada.
CIM: How does the MODCC serve the goals of CEMI, particularly around digital technologies and its future application to mining? Thomson: With technology moving forward, CEMI’s objective is very much to serve exploration and the discovery of new mines, the operation of existing mines, and the environmental aspects and sustainability of mines. And in all of those areas there are digital innovations that can make a real difference.
CIM: Historically R&D was dependent on data generated through academic journals, and it is a slow process. Is this an opportunity for the MODCC to accelerate this process? Thomson: It’s absolutely the objective. When you don’t have
control have seen a 15 per cent reduction in cost-per-time within six months of implementing and a 20 per cent increase in productivity within six weeks. So even for a medium-sized mine, that potentially translates into tens of millions of dollars annually in return.
to hunt down the correct data that you need to come up with the research you are looking to do, it makes it so much easier. We’d really like to shrink the time that a researcher is hunting down data for a project, because then they can focus on their core expertise and create solutions that take advantage of advanced analytics capabilities. That’s where the real value is, hopefully.
CIM: So the beneficiaries of the MODCC will ultimately be SMEs and mining companies, by creating a centralized point where they can access the data they need? Thomson: That would be ideal. What we really need to do
CIM: It’s still early days for the MODCC, but what is the vision for the future? Thomson: We hope to eventually create a service that collects,
before we can make that centralized data available is build up those trust relationships with the mining companies. We’re not expecting them to give us proprietary data and then we go find companies that can use it. The first step is actually working with those companies and building up the data; that’s our initial focus. But in the longer term, those are the two stakeholders
integrates, securely stores and distributes data. For example, streaming data that originates from sensor arrays in operating mines will eventually be assessed in real-time, making the MODCC a “living data centre.” The MODCC could one day provide an ideal “knowledge hotspot” or incubator for research and technical teams from around the world to visit, analyze and interpret data, and gain new insights. CIM September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 37
Courtesy of Caterpillar
The nuts and bolts of 3D printing Caterpillar’s Stacey DelVecchio discusses the company’s foray into additive manufacturing By Elle Crosby
dditive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a rapidly developing form of technology that is being used in many and varied sectors, from medicine to the aerospace industry. The ability to print parts, tools and equipment on demand could reduce costs related to inventory holding, supply chain and assembly, as well as cut waste and lead time, the latter of which is especially significant for mines operating in isolated locations. The technology also allows companies to customize and expedite prototypes to create new kinds of equipment that could not have been manufactured through other methods. Up until now, the mining sector has not widely adopted the technology. Stacey DelVecchio, a chemical engineer at Caterpillar, is exploring how to change that as the company’s additive manufacturing project manager. Her team is already making use of its additive manufacturing factory to print parts for Caterpillar equipment, and DelVecchio has her eyes on the horizon for what is next; namely printing parts on demand and how that will impact the heavy equipment industry.
CIM: What is Caterpillar using 3D printing for right now? DelVecchio: Right now we have just under 100 parts in our system that are approved for use for 3D printing. So, if somebody ordered a piece of equipment, it could come right now with 3D-printed parts and actually no one would know that they were printed because they look just like regular parts. It does have some other capabilities, but 3D printing is basically just another way to make a part. One of the challenges that we are very focused on is that we have a brand promise, so anything that goes out has to have the same quality as the part that’s out there now. 38 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
CIM: What kind of materials are you printing in right now? DelVecchio: We’re printing in various kinds of metals and plastics. We have the capability to print in just about any type of plastic here in our additive manufacturing factory, including elastomer, which we just started printing in recently. We’re really excited about this because as recently as two years ago people would say things like, “We can’t print anything that’s a true elastomer,” but the technology is improving so quickly and now we are.
CIM: Can you explain how you decide which parts will be printed and why? DelVecchio: We have two paths for deciding when to start printing something. One path right now is related to our aftermarket products. We have a huge brand promise to make sure that we get our customers the parts they need when they need them, even if that machine has not been in production for years. If a part is decades old, it’s a low-volume part, and we just don’t have as many of them as we may need. So when those orders come in, we ask “Would this be a part that’s capable of being printed?” then, “Is it a material that we can print in? Is it a size that we can print?” Then the final question is, “Does it make financial sense?” There are a lot of things that we could print right now, but they don’t make sense financially. So that’s one channel that we are really focused on because printing is good for low-volume parts. The other channel has more to do with engineering requirements. 3D printing offers some new features because on the upfront end of the design work you can create what we haven’t been able to before. “Lightweighting” a part or designing complex cooling passages for more efficient cooling are
digital mining just two examples of where designing something for 3D printing can be beneficial. We can also 3D print what would normally be multiple parts as one, which eliminates the need to assemble the multiple parts and completely eliminates any potential failure mode that would have happened during assembly. 3D printing multiple parts as one also eliminates any leak paths, as holes and joints are no longer even there. It’s definitely an evolution with the way our engineers think when they’re in the product development stages. There’s been a culture shift with the engineers rethinking how to build equipment based on an understanding of what 3D printers offer.
CIM: What kind of limitations do you have when it comes to size when 3D printing? DelVecchio: We can print really small parts – we just started printing grommets, which is a pretty small part – and the maximum size we can do at Caterpillar is 11x11x14 inches in metal and 36x24x36 inches in plastic. Mining uses really big equipment, and we don’t have the capacity to print a whole mining truck, but there is a lot of opportunity with the size capacity that we have right now. When you start looking under the hood and you start opening up cabinets, there are all kinds of little parts that go into making up that big piece of equipment. I have spent my whole career as an engineer working in components. I do want to see the printers print
bigger pieces, but right now there’s so much opportunity with the size of what our printers can print.
CIM: How would Caterpillar’s ability to print on demand affect the heavy equipment and mining industries? DelVecchio: Right now, we are in strategy mode for what it will mean to print on demand. We do see a future where the technology will become more prevalent around the world and there will be printing close to our dealers or close to customers. What my additive manufacturing group is doing is making sure that we understand the technology enough and get the specifications down on how you actually print it so that when we are printing at various sites, it will be in a controlled manner and quality. We need to know the capabilities of that part as it comes off the printer so that we can guarantee that we get good parts to our customers. As far as who does the printing and who’s controlling it and who actually gets the file and how they print it, we do not have that figured out yet, but those various scenarios are part of the strategy being considered. There are others in the industry that I would say are more waiting and watching what’s happening, and we believe it’s very important to get our hands in this right now so that when it does become something that’s easier for others to print, we will have the experience and be that much farther ahead to distribute it. CIM
Geostatistical Mineral Resource Estimation and Meeting the New Regulatory Environment: Step by Step from Sampling to Grade Control This course is designed according to the latest regulations on public reporting of Mineral Resources. It aims at showing how state-of-the-art statistical and geostatistical techniques help answer the requirements of those regulations in an objective and reproducible manner. A particular emphasis is put on understanding sampling and estimation errors and how to assign levels estimation confidence through the application of resource classification fundamentals. In addition to a solid introduction to mining geostatistics this course provides a comprehensive overview of industry’s best practices in the broader field of Mineral Resource estimation.
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INSTRUCTORS Roussos Dimitrakopoulos, McGill University, Canada and Ryan Goodfellow, McGill University, Canada • DATE September 2018 • LOCATION Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 39
A short solution
for the long haul MINING COMPANIES HAVE BEEN COLLECTING DATA FOR YEARS, BUT IT IS ONLY RECENTLY THAT THEY HAVE STARTED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO INTEGRATE, PROCESS AND ACT UPON THAT INFORMATION. BY PETER BRAUL
here’s probably a 25 to 30 per cent productivity improvement available at most mines,” said Jim Gallagher, president and CEO of North American Palladium. It is a shocking statement, but he has the numbers to back it up. Gallagher said his mine, the Lac des Iles palladium operation, is seeing trucks and other equipment moving for 10 or more hours out of a 12-hour shift in the underground, compared to six hours in conventional mines. With kilometres of one-way tunnels and often a single access point for personnel, hours of downtime is usually thought of as a given in underground mining. So what’s the secret to the huge improvements at Lac des Iles? Something Gallagher calls real-time mine management, otherwise known as short interval control. This concept involves, basically, checking in with what is happening underground on a more frequent basis than has traditionally been done. Then, with the information gathered from each check in, making quicker decisions to improve workflow in the mine. This could be as simple as a radio call every hour or two, but at its most exacting would see every activity in the mine continuously monitored digitally, that data fed into an algorithm and the mine plan automatically optimized in the short-, medium- and long-term to better achieve a company’s strategic goals. In many mines, it can still take 12 hours for information to make its way to the surface, even when plans go smoothly underground. Lac des Iles is an operation near Thunder Bay, Ontario, that has been producing for more than 20 years. That makes it a
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good case study when considering the power of implementing modern technology and ideas. Late last year, the team at Lac des Iles began “putting things in,” according to Gallagher. Things like fiber optic networks, wireless hubs, sensors and tracking devices. (For more on the digital transformation at Lac des Iles, see pg. 34.) Early this year, the mine implemented underground equipment tracking. “I don’t think we’ve spent over $300,000 to date,” Gallagher said. Despite the low price tag, the improvements made are so powerful that Gallagher predicted that five years from now nobody will contemplate building a mine without real-time mine management.
MAKING (GOOD) DECISIONS QUICKLY Mining is unpredictable, and most will admit that a mine plan rarely gets followed to a T. Things break and crews improvise, essentially creating a new mine plan on the fly. “Who’s to say that that shift boss, at that point in time, is putting forth the optimal plan?” asked Gallagher. “That’s not a comment on individuals, because that’s a tough task to do, to really optimize those resources.” How could a shift boss see, in the moment and without any help, the best move to make in terms of the business plan? Over the past couple of years, mines and mining equipment suppliers have been collecting an increasing amount of data, what Paola Telfer of Vandrico calls the “big data side” of
Courtesy of Barrick
A Barrick employee gives feedback on the underground short interval control system to a software developer at the companyâ€™s CodeMine in Elko, Nevada.
things. Switching to data-driven decision making, however, has been slower to arrive. Telfer is the chief commercial officer and one of the founders of the Vancouver-based tech company. She said that until now miners have had access to “a lot of tools for post-hoc analysis,” but not real-time help. As much as new tools are helpful, some argue that short interval control should be seen as both a technological change and a cultural one. “The core problem most operations have is they’ve gone and spent a whole lot of money on complex IT systems for engineers and accountants but nothing on getting a short interval plan to their supervisors so they can lead their teams to deliver it,” said Paul Moynagh, CEO and co-founder of Commit Works, an Australian software firm specializing in short interval work planning and execution. He recalled the example of a company based in Australia that spent AU$3.5 billion on an enterprise technology system but still had underground operators reviewing photographs of a whiteboard during their shift. According to Moynagh, it is almost impossible to get supervisors and crews to execute short interval control if they do not get a shift plan that takes account of all the work that will influence their performance. For example, maintenance, training and services work may get in the way of hitting targets for a shift. If this is not reflected in the plan, the crew will not commit to delivering the plan regardless of the data that is coming off the machines in real time. Gallagher said he has experienced friction with the social change that comes with more computer involvement. “The front line supervisors, some of them adapt well to this and some of them resist because they used to dictate what went on,” he said. “We’ve had some pushback on that, and we continue to work through it. The relationship between mine planning, the control room operator and the shift boss is still being worked out, but we’re on the front edge of this.” In a morning meeting in August, supervisors at the Lac des Iles mine reported that the ore passes were empty. “They relied on the estimation of operators working in the area,” recalled David Galea, manager at North American Palladium. The operations team agreed with the maintenance team that it was a good time to get some maintenance done in the shaft, know-
Courtesy of Vandrico
Vandrico’s ConnectedWorker Replay software pulls data from any type of sensor in a mine and allows managers to replay events.
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ing that trucking would not be impacted for several hours until the passes filled up again. The plan for the day was made and workers dispatched, but then the mine coordinator checked the ore pass measurements digitally. Contrary to what was reported, the passes appeared to be nearly full, so shaft maintenance was shortened.
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF BEING WATCHED Part of the issue with all real-time data has traditionally been a reluctance from workers to be tracked while on the job. “One of the cultural changes that organizations have to get through is mine operators don’t always want that level of visibility,” Gallagher said. “But as soon as we started tracking truck movement, we saw performance improvements.” He claimed that the safety benefits associated with tracking are overplayed in an effort to skirt the obvious: your boss knows everything you do. “We have been very front and centre in saying ‘Yes we are tracking movement and performance,’” said Gallagher. “We started dealing with the positives – recognizing operators that have high performance. We have purposefully chosen not to go after those who are on the low end of the scale.” Gallagher noted his operation still has lots of room to grow. Although managers are able to track progress and amend plans, operators cannot see their statistics in real time yet. If operators have their performance data on hand it can be a powerful motivator and also help them to understand what behaviours really do increase productivity. Beyond that, “The ultimate step is getting computer help with planning and scheduling and, as things change, the computer updating the schedule in an optimized way,” Gallagher said. That machine learning aspect of digitization is something Vandrico’s Telfer said will have the biggest impact. Her company makes software called Replay that allows a manager to replay events in a mine and see where people and machines were and how they moved. Vandrico’s software pulls data from virtually any kind of sensor. “We’ve gone through a lot of pains to make the tools very Google-esque,” Telfer explained. “Underneath our modules is a platform based on open data.” If a deviation from the plan is noticed, she said, managers can figure out the root cause and make corrections. In the past, she said, doing the same thing might have taken a long time to gather data and involved hiring consultants to analyze it. She brought up the example of a Canadian mine where KPIs were not being hit, with tasks taking 100 per cent longer than expected. It took several weeks of data collection and analysis, along with interviews with workers, for managers to figure out that a jumbo had been blocking the way while waiting for maintenance. “Workers would arrive, leave again and then take a detour to bring items little by little to their site,” she said. Nobody was investigating in real time, and the pattern was difficult to recognize. “Everything is just so loud, there is a lot going on, everyone is busy and focused on their own thing, communication cuts in and out sometimes and it takes a long time to get between places. So you don’t really want to chit-chat or get distracted or get into someone else’s work order if you don’t have to.”
Courtesy of Commit Works
Short interval control is not only a technological change, but also a cultural one where operators need to rethink daily procedures.
If a computer application had captured the length of time things were taking and analyzed the irregular patterns of movement, it could have alerted the workers, or even assigned them different tasks.
THE GODFATHER “We’re not out to do it for the recognition,” said Rick Howes, who has become a touchstone in the field of digital mining technology, and particularly short interval control. As president and CEO of Dundee Precious Metals, and formerly as general manager of the company’s Chelopech gold mine in Bulgaria, Howes brought the 50-year-old operation into the modern era. “Ever since people heard about what we were doing, there have been something like 40 to 50 mining companies visit the site,” he said. In 2009, Howes began a plan to “take the lid off” of the Chelopech underground operation by tracking machines and people, and installing Wi-Fi throughout the mine without an enormous financial outlay (See Underground achiever, September 2014). “The first phase was just getting connectivity to our mobile fleets,” he recalled. “Now though, the real power is advancing the use of the data.” This August, Dundee purchased MineRP and folded its new technology venture, Terrative Digital Solutions, into the company (See The bandwidth backbone, August 2017). MineRP is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite designed for the science aspect of mining, which works with traditional ERPs that help manage the business side. Traditionally mining companies have been unable to fully take advantage of traditional ERP software because it cannot be properly integrated with many mining technical applications used to model, design, plan and control the mine. “The combination of the Terrative Digital Solutions real-time connec-
tivity and the MineRP enterprise software platform can be transformative for mining companies,” Howes explained. In addition to spawning new companies, those involved with Chelopech’s technological retrofit have made the transition to other ventures, and have begun to see digitization concepts become more broadly applied. Gordon Fellows, the former technical services manager at Chelopech, is now project subject matter expert for short interval control and task management at Barrick Gold. Since August of last year he has been based in Nevada and deeply involved in what Barrick calls its “Digital Transformation.”
IT’S NOT FRINGE WHEN BARRICK IS DOING IT In many ways, the fact that Barrick sees promise in short interval control means the concept has hit the mainstream and is poised for global uptake. The gold giant is piloting a number of projects at its Cortez operation, and has taken up the reins in automated hauling, underground Wi-Fi, and developing a number of new apps to implement short interval control. Whereas Lac des Iles has gone with what Gallagher calls the “80:20 rule” of digitization, wherein the company gets 80 per cent of the benefit for 20 per cent of the spend, Barrick is pushing the envelope of the tech. “We’re going beyond Chelopech,” said Fellows. “There’s a lot more capability and more customization: our operators can actually pull up a map of the underground mine.” They can see where other machines and people are in real time, instead of traveling an hour or two only to find that something or someone are not where they are supposed to be. In the future, operators may be able to view the mine in a way that is similar to Google maps, with traffic incidents reported and quicker routes suggested. At the moment, Barrick has released what it calls a “minimum viable product” across the Cortez underground, with the underSeptember/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 43
Courtesy of Barrick
A Barrick underground operator uses the underground short interval control system at the companyâ€™s Cortez mine.
standing that the company will not stop developing further tools. Barrick is working with Cisco and Microsoft to continue development, but is also pulling together a crack team of tech wiz kids in-house to work on development. The company has, to date, created separate apps for eight different kinds of machines, each customized so that operators can see their progress with respect to the plan as they go along. Asked why they developed their own tools, Fellows said, “For Barrick, we just didn’t see the products out there on the market.” For example, with Barrick’s software, a bolter can see live how many bolts they have done already and how many are left to do in the plan, and the supervisor can be aware if work is ahead of or behind schedule. Then, he or she can shift plans to suit the real-world conditions. Fellows also said that since his work at Chelopech some five years ago, technology has advanced and gotten cheaper. “The concept and acceptability of apps has come a long way,” he said. “The software on the tablet on the machine looked the same for every piece of equipment [at Chelopech]. Here we’ve got a separate app and it’s much more customized. The whole internet of things has standardized the exchange of information, which makes things a lot faster too.” Adopting new technology is changing the type of people Barrick is looking for, as well as the demographic. “In addition to talented miners, I need a lot more technical people, I need a lot more computer-savvy people and I need people who are adaptable to change,” said Curtis Cadwell, general manager of operations for Barrick Nevada. “In the past, it’s been about just getting bigger. My dad worked in mining, and when he was younger a 50-ton truck was a big truck. When I started, a 400-ton truck was kind of the biggest size. My kids are getting into it and I already told them: ‘You’re not going to see a 2,000- or 3,000-ton truck. You’re getting into physical limitations. But using the entire clock and being smart and using your data is how you’re going to improve.’ It’s much more about quality, repeatability and analyzing data.” Dundee’s Howes agreed that tech implementation can have an impact on hiring. “For sure the impact on HR has been huge,” he said. “We get a lot of interest now from people – especially from the younger generation. We don’t get much turnover in the company.”
A NEW MODEL For all of the speed they promise, it is not guaranteed that digital tools will create positive change if they are used improperly or without vision. And implementing tools hastily can lead to mistakes “The mining industry can’t figure out how to move faster towards moving faster,” said Howes. “Words like ‘agility’ do actually mean something. It’s not just quicker, it’s quicker and smarter.” Howes said that the buzz around digitization can sometimes lead mining executives to make hasty decisions. “People are worried they are going to miss out and get outcompeted,” he added. “You have to be careful – there are all kinds of ornaments and neat toys available now. But the critical thing for companies is to figure out what they are trying to do. Without a tree to hang it on, an ornament is not going to help the business get better.” CIM
LOOKING TO GET INTO
SHORT INTERVAL CONTROL?
he Global Mining Standards Group (GMSG) has been putting together guidance.
In September, the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) and GMSG kicked off a workshop intended to develop a framework for companies interested in pursuing short interval control. “The idea is that we pull together mining companies, suppliers and consultants,” said David Sanguinetti, CMIC’s innovation manager for underground mining. “People are interested in it, but there is no roadmap, nothing that tells them how to do it.”
The process of implementing digital controls can seem daunting because there are no truly off-the-shelf solutions, according to Sanguinetti. “You’re going to need an assortment of pieces, and then you’re going to need to integrate them,” he said. “The guideline is to provide somewhere to start, rather than replace consultants or suppliers; it’s a roadmap.”
The basic components
1 2 3 4
Sensors on everything you can afford Underground Wi-Fi or LTE (a possibly lower-capex solution once telecoms can offer it) Software to not just collect, but also interpret the data People who are motivated to change their behaviours in the pursuit of better performance September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 45
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Courtesy of Atlantic Gold
By Eavan Moore
Once the ore is mined at Touquoy, the jaw crusher and grizzly feeder (lower right) will be relocated to the deposit at Beaver Dam.
The team at Atlantic Gold is taking a new approach to mine development, as it leads the renaissance of gold mining in Nova Scotia aryse Bélanger is proud of her new company’s first project: the $137.3-million Moose River Consolidated project in Nova Scotia, scheduled to start producing gold in October. “It’s small, but it’s well-done and well-designed,” said Bélanger, the COO of Atlantic Gold since July 2016. “You can tell I’m quite passionate about my place here.” Moose River is starting off small, with what the company calls its “phase one” with current Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves of 425,000 ounces based on 9.2 million tonnes (Mt) at an average grade of 1.44 grams per tonne (g/t) at its Touquoy project and another 335,000 ounces from 7.25 Mt at 1.44 g/t at nearby Beaver Dam. Moose River has a long history. A provincial survey in 1861 led to a Nova Scotia gold rush and the designation of a total of 65 gold mining districts by the early 1900s, including Sherbrooke, Seal Harbour, and Tangier. Nova Scotia – specifically,
the Cambrian greywacke and overlying slate of its southern Meguma Group – became known for gold-bearing quartz veins, often high-grade and accessed by underground workings. Moose River Gold Mines produced about 21,500 ounces from 1877 to the First World War. By the mid-20th century there was little mining activity in the province. But over the 1980s and 1990s, a series of companies explored the possibility of open-pit mining at the Touquoy deposit, where there was medium-grade but nonrefractory gold disseminated in argillite. Atlantic Gold got involved during the booming early 2000s. In addition to Touquoy and Beaver Dam, the company is exploring two other deposits, Cochrane Hill and Fifteen Mile Stream – altogether, an investment it describes as a “string of pearls.” At the moment Touquoy stands alone as the only producing gold mine in the province and will directly employ up to 215 people by this fall.
Eliminating overruns In an unusual move, Atlantic Gold signed a fixed-price EPC contract with Ausenco. The first such contract for a gold processing facility, it lowers the risk of cost overruns by guaranteeing they will not hit the mining company. The contractor benefits by being able to offer a predictable cost and having strong incentives to work efficiently. It does require significant upfront work for both parties, which Bélanger said she thinks September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 47
Courtesy of Atlantic Gold
is one reason it is overlooked as a strategy. “Everyone has to bring clarity,” she said. “On the client’s side, what you want; on the contractor’s side, how much things will cost.” Detailed engineering work must include precise equipment selection, down to pump model and size, and firm quotes must be secured from suppliers. But from her point of view, the work was worth it. “For us it’s been a really good experience,” she said. “As the client, we are on schedule and on budget.” The construction process has not passed entirely without annoyances. Bélanger shared a bit of wisdom she learned the hard way: “Don’t try to build the clay core for a tailings dam in the winter.” When frozen lenses develop in the clay, the material has to be discarded; in a Nova Scotia winter, the safe temperature window for working with clay lasts about two hours at midday.
“As a group, we’re really proud of the smart engineering that’s been incorporated in the design.”
The seven leach tanks were fabricated for Atlantic Gold by a company called Modular Fabrication in nearby Miramichi, New Brunswick. “Instead of taking three to four weeks to install them, it took about four or five days,” she said, “because it was all prefabricated and they just needed to be snapped on and filled.” Having the manufacturer nearby made quality control visits easier as well. The same approach was used for the crushing circuit, which was designed by Metso but fabricated in Miramichi. This not only cut installation time down to a month but will also make it possible to move primary crushing equipment to the Beaver Dam site when Touquoy is depleted. The jaw crusher and grizzly feeder will be relocated to Beaver Dam; the ore will then be trucked 37 kilometres to the Touquoy mill for secondary crushing.
In many ways the project is a conventional As part of its drive to reduce energy use, open-pit mine and process plant. The Touquoy Atlantic is looking at installing automated deposit will be mined using leased equipment, process control in its mill. The ball mill will and when it is depleted in year five mining have a variable-speed drive, and early evaluactivities will switch to the Beaver Dam ation suggests that the mine could derive sigMaryse Bélanger, deposit. All ore will be processed at the nificant savings by installing a system that Chief operating officer Touquoy process plant, which is designed for a would tailor the drive’s speed to specific ore throughput of 250 tonnes per hour. The plant characteristics detected by sophisticated senrelies on standard milling methods: a three-stage crushing cir- sors. The site metallurgical team will refine the control system cuit, followed by a ball mill, a gravity concentrator, a carbon- over time as lessons emerge about the impacts of varying ore in-leach circuit and a smelter that will produce doré bars. In quality and quantity. The system will also have maintenance its phase one scenario, the site will produce an annual average benefits – detecting stuck ball charge, reducing damage to the of approximately 87,000 ounces over at least eight and a half site grid from voltage irregularities and reducing liner wear. years at an all-in sustaining cost of $690 per ounce and a gold In production, this could help keep milling on spec, avoid recovery rate of 94 per cent. over-grinding, and reduce the project’s energy use. The ball But Bélanger is pleased with the details that Ausenco mill’s annual power draw is 13,882 MWh a year, or almost worked into the process plant. “As a group, we’re really proud half of the Touquoy plant’s total power consumption. Reducof the smart engineering that’s been incorporated in the ing peak energy demand is particularly important. “Peak design,” she said. In addition to her past work at Mirabela demand is a considerable component of Nova Scotia Power’s Nickel, Goldcorp and Kinross Gold, Bélanger was once a pricing,” said Bélanger. “The utility power industrial to residirector of the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution and dential ratio in Nova Scotia is already one of the highest in she was drawn to Atlantic by, among other things, the oppor- North America so improvements in this area will lead to contunity to implement mine-to-mill practices with a focus on siderable cost reduction.” energy. Other energy-saving plans include measurements of disThe mill building was given a height of 45 metres to accom- solved oxygen in the leach process, which could provide modate large equipment, but the rest of the plant has a lower improved controls for the air blower. Although Bélanger profile to save on heating, ventilation and air conditioning expects that most ideas for saving energy will see implementacosts. The Moose River project will also apply blast optimization practices. “More and more people are focused on this Opposite page, clockwise from top: The process plant, adjacent to the Touquoy is designed for 250 tonnes per hour; the operation includes a pulverize and leach approach,” said Bélanger, “because we know that it’s in some pit, machine that will be used for mine planning and reconciliation; carbon-in-leach and instances 30 times cheaper to break the material in the mine detoxification modules; Maryse Bélanger (left) leads an investor’s tour of the Moose River site. than it is in the plant.” 48 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Courtesy of Atlantic Gold
Courtesy of John Cooper/Mineral Process Control
Courtesy of Atlantic Gold Courtesy of Atlantic Gold
September/October â€¢ Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 49
Current mine life 8.5 years Processing 2 Mt per year
Capex $137.3 million Production 87,000 ounces per year
A prefeasibility study for Fifteen Mile and Cochrane Hill is expected before the end of 2017. Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves Touquoy Beaver Dam Measured and Indicated Resource Fifteen Mile Stream Cochrane Hill
Million tonnes 9.2 7.25
Grade g/t 1.44 1.44
Contained Auoz 425,000 335,000
Cut-off grade g/t .4 .4
tion, Atlantic does not yet have quotes from potential suppliers of sensors and software. The big-ticket savings involved make it likely that Nova Scotia’s energy efficiency program will help pay for some of the new technology.
Grade control drilling In the last few years, Atlantic Gold has also done some advance planning by conducting reverse circulation drilling on five-by-five- or five-by-ten-metre grids. “We drill down four benches before production,” said Bélanger. “It allows us to get some very high-density information before we mine, so it lets us adjust our short-range model and leads to better mine planning, because we better define ore-waste segregation. Right now we have 14 months drilled off, and we see really good correlation with our resource block model.” The cost of doing dense drilling is about 20 cents per tonne mined. “If you look at the cost of making all decisions, in terms of sending ore to the waste dump or waste to the plant, relative to that, 20 cents per tonne is nothing,” she said. This is called grade control drilling or production density drilling; it is used widely in Australia and West Africa but is unique in Canada, where operations typically assay blastholes to prepare a short-range planning model, explained Bélanger. “From our perspective, that’s very last-minute. Depending on the driller, on the machine, it’s difficult to get in operation.” Moreover, said Bélanger, the size of the samples collected is not adequate for disseminated mineralization. She noted Atlantic is the only miner in North America with a PAL (pulverize and leach) machine that assays samples of up to one kilogram. “We have worked hard to finesse and perfect sampling and splitting protocols to maximize sample precision in the rock type prior to the pressures of mining and production.” Another benefit, explained Bélanger is that “the grade control drilling also provides a reconciliation tool of the tonnes and grade in the mining blocks using high density data. Short of actually mining those blocks this is the closest thing to predicting the actual tonnes and grade.” 50 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Building a team For Bélanger, who spent many years working for larger miners, it was novel to work with a small company to build out a team. “Not a lot of people have the opportunity to do that from scratch, and I can tell you, it is a wonderful experience,” she said. Seven corporate staff in Vancouver are overseeing two mines and a single processing facility in Nova Scotia. Given the sizes involved, it seemed wise to make technical skills available at site and to give people maximum decision-making freedom; because Atlantic Gold started with principles of safe performance and accountability, the company also wanted to make very straight and simple reporting lines. In practice this meant creating a workforce that is full-time and has minimal contractor support. “Everyone has to operate as an owner and it is difficult to implement with contractors,” said Bélanger. The workforce is also 98 per cent Nova Scotian. Atlantic Gold sought to bring strong technical talent back to the province, and Bélanger said she thinks that effort has been successful. “We’ve been very fortunate to find some really great professionals,” she said. “Many of them were originally from Nova Scotia but have never worked in the province. For some of them it was a lifestyle choice: whether they would keep doing fly in/fly out, or work in the jungle, or come back home and work here, where everybody drives home at night.” The initial promise of an eight-and-a-half-year life looks likely to extend with the properties currently under exploration. The most recent drilling campaign defined a Measured and Indicated Resource estimate of 10.6 Mt at 1.16 g/t for 398,000 ounces using a .35 g/t cut-off grade at Cochrane Hill and 10.5 Mt at 1.33 g/t for 452,000 ounces at Fifteen Mile Stream. Atlantic Gold will be completing a pre-feasibility study in the fourth quarter of 2017; mining at Cochrane Hill could start in a few years, adding value to Atlantic’s string of pearls. CIM
Interactive engineering Powerful visualization tools and purpose-built applications open up a new frontier in project development
Courtesy of BGC Engineering
By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
Virtual and augmented reality platforms have moved beyond novelties and become powerful tools for engineering projects.
n a meeting room in BGC Engineering’s Toronto Bay Street offices, Matthew Lato, a geotechnical engineer with the company, put on a Microsoft HoloLens. Slowly, he moved his head slightly up, then down, then to the side, then pinched the air with his fingers. It seemed as if he was performing mime but in reality, he was clicking the menu of the tiny yet powerful computer wrapped around his head and loading 3D holographic models onto the headset. The HoloLens technology “is basically like a cellphone on steroids but instead of looking at you, it sees what you’re looking at,” he said before turning his head toward the long table in the room and addressing his conversation back to the device. “Computer, zoom in.” A couple of minutes later, he passed the headset to me. With the smart glasses on my head, I could suddenly see a 3D map of a mine site on the table. I could walk around it and examine it from different angles, zoom in for close ups, or out to see the map expand beyond the initial horizon. I could also still see Lato, the table and chairs, windows and everything else in the room. Because the HoloLens can be scaled up to a one-to-one ratio, a few minutes later, I was immersed in a virtual reclaimed mine site with a lake, trees and sunshine. I could step onto the boardwalk and listen to birds chirping. “All the trees are the right species and aged 20 years after planting. It’s September 15, 2037 at two o’clock in the afternoon,” said Lato. “The sun is where it would be at that time of day.”
The next big disruptive technology Launched in 2016, HoloLens combines both virtual reality (VR), which blocks everything from view except the 3D images, and augmented reality (AR), which allows the users to view a September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 51
Courtesy of Arvizio
3D image while still seeing the physical environment around them, making it a mixed reality (MR) device. It can also pull up additional information from the database, including charts that can be displayed on the model. The HoloLens also has such innovations as spatial anchoring, which fixes the 3D image on a certain spot. If 10 other people had been in the room each wearing headsets, they would all have been able to see the same model on the table as I saw, each from the perspective of their position relative to the model. At a cost of about $5,000 a headset, the HoloLens is considered by many to be a game changer, primarily because of its MR capabilities. While the HoloLens might be to holographic computing what the smartphone was to the cellphone, all the emerging VR, AR and MR technologies have the potential to be as disruptive as smartphones if not more – and to transform industries such as mining. Like smartphones, these are technologies that open up the human imagination to an almost infinite number of applications once people get past the wow factor. In fact, the biggest challenge the technology faces, said Lato, is convincing people that it is not just a cool gimmick. It has very real and practical benefits and uses that can improve designs, communication and collaboration, efficiencies and safety. But with holographic computing, seeing is believing. “They’re usually convinced pretty quickly with a demonstration,” said Lato. BGC has only been making the technology available to clients since this summer. The company already has five committed to using its MR immersive landscapes and interactive 3D engineering map application that use data from topographical maps, soil and rock profiles and engineering plans. The most recent client to sign up for BGC’s visualization service is Barrick Gold’s joint venture with Goldcorp at the Pueblo Viejo mining project in the Dominican Republic, and Rio Tinto’s IOC Railway in Canada is currently testing the technology. 52 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
“Mixed Reality is going to become Arvizio’s MR Studio allows the visualization the dominant way people interact with of LiDAR point clouds information, because it is less abstract, and can overlay the LiDAR and more natural and intuitive,” said data on CAD models. John Howard, a holographic computing specialist who partnered with BGC to develop the applications. BGC’s vice-president, Bill Burton, added: “In mine development, sometimes we’re talking to experts in their own fields who are not used to working with traditional maps. This makes it accessible to them.” From technical input to community feedback, Burton said he believes the 3D maps and landscapes will result in greater insights and communication as well as improved designs. In fact, while the maps are currently created by inputting designs and data into the software, in the near future he said he believes the original designs will be made using virtual reality.
Mining imagination But geological engineers are not the only ones who are imagining the possibilities. Last year, Goldcorp launched its own AR and VR research and development initiative as part of its ever-expanding commitment towards innovation. Luis Canepari, vice-president of technology at Goldcorp, and his team are looking into applications like equipping shovel operators with HoloLenses loaded with models of the different grades where they are digging to help them improve their precision and efficiency. They are also considering building 3D models of Goldcorp’s mines that could include high definition imagery enhanced with data from real-time sensor at their underground mines. “Imagine the productivity and safety improvements if our engineers and geologist could visualize the mine real time just by putting on a HoloLens from the safety of their office,” said Canepari.
The technology also allows for collaboration among people in locations across the world, all viewing the same images through the Cloud and their HoloLenses headsets. “Within a few years, I believe our workers will be able to get support from their supervisors or from subject matter experts located even at different sites and collaborate in real time,” said Canepari. The HoloLens hard drive has some limitations simply due to size. It cannot create very complex, large 3D models, such as LiDAR scan data or other large mining and construction models. But Ottawa-based Arvizio has developed an MR software platform that optimizes point cloud models, with billions of points covering many square kilometres, for display on mixed reality devices. “MR Studio allows you to visualize LiDAR point clouds and overlay the LiDAR data on CAD models for comparison,” said Jonathan Reeves, the company’s CEO. “Project teams get an early read if things are not going quite right during the design process, visualize problem areas and collaborate on solutions throughout the project lifecycle.” The technology also allows for collaboration among people both locally and remotely, all viewing the same images via the internet and/or their mixed reality headsets.
Virtually transforming reality VR technology is also staking out territory in the mining sector. Within a year of introducing its own proprietary VR technology, Cementation, which designs and builds underground mines as well as the processing and material handling facilities above ground, has now adopted it for most of its projects. Its system is completely immersive and life-sized. Wearing a headset, users can travel across an entire mine site or facility while standing in a small room. They can navigate up and down stairs and cover kilometres simply by clicking on a handheld device that “tele-transports” them in Star Trek style to anywhere they want in the VR model. When designing a conveyer belt, Cementation had its client’s maintenance team participate in VR sessions to test out the design. Inside the VR model, the team squatted, reached, crawled and cautiously leaned over edges to look downward as they would have in the real space, said Clark Whiting, vicepresident at Cementation AG. Their insights resulted in key changes, including enhanced lighting, widening of the walkway, replacement of a full enclosure that reduced accessibility with a three-quarter hood – and, since the maintenance team found they could reach everything from one side of the walkway, it also led to the cost-cutting elimination of the walkway on the other side. “We use it to get good solid feedback from clients,” said Whiting. “After we’ve completed the design and build, many are asking us if they can use the model themselves for such things as training or maintenance.” Cementation’s system currently lacks AR’s ability to pull up additional information, but is currently working on enhancements to integrate the capability. “For example, if you are looking at a piece of equipment while wearing the VR headset, you can bring up equipment
Courtesy of BGC Engineering
specifications from the database, Those using the HoloLens technology, shown above, can such as the maintenance history, see the same model and move so it gives you more than just a through it together. picture image,” said Whiting. The company is also working on several other applications, including a prototype for use in mucking with a camera on the cab of the equipment that streams the live video to the operator who can sit safely in another room while seeing everything in VR through a headset. The company is also working on a VR maintenance history application that will allow maintenance teams to see what was previously done on the equipment, as well as a training and planning application for mine rescue teams with simulated flash fires. They have even been asked to try to simulate extreme heat by cranking up the heat in the room. “Your emotions change in such conditions when it’s hard to breathe and you’re not able to think clearly. You panic,” said Whiting. Training companies like Immersive Technologies have also seized VR opportunities in the last couple of years. “The main benefit of VR is its sense of presence to replicate high-risk events, provide hazard awareness training and a way of experiencing a workplace environment without the cost of travelling to site,” said Cian Dobson, the company’s visual database department manager.
Dream big The day might come when miners face a problem and ask themselves “is there an app for that?” And if there is not, they will be able to make one, working with video game designers, the brains behind holographic computing. Much as with smartphones, just about anybody will be able to imagine new applications. “When someone puts the headset on, they start thinking of ways they can use it given their expertise,” said Whiting. “We’re always writing notes down as fast as we can because everybody has an idea of how this can be used.” Lato has had a similar experience when people try out BGC’s HoloLens. “It’s just the beginning. I think it will change the way we think and work,” he said. CIM September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 53
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SECTION francophone 56 Lettre de l’éditeur | Mot du président 58 Les actualités 63 Comment redonner au Canada son statut d’autorité minière concurentielle
64 Le projet Moose River Consolidated d’Atlantic Gold est le fruit d'une planification minutieuse Par Mauro Chiesa
Par Eavan Moore
La version française intégrale du CIM Magazine est disponible en ligne : magazine.CIM.org/fr-CA
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Un face-à-face avec l’avenir
Réglementations et permis
Je n’avais jamais rencontré cet homme auparavant, mais il était là, devant moi, marchant à grandes enjambées dans le hall de réception du bureau, ses yeux fixés sur les miens et se parlant à lui-même. C’était terrifiant. Ce n’est que lorsqu’il s’est approché que j’ai reconnu le style particulier de ses lunettes Google, et je me suis alors rendu compte que je me trouvais simplement dans sa ligne de mire alors qu’il parlait à quelqu’un d’autre au travers de son dispositif en scrutant le minuscule écran qui couvrait une partie de son visage. Peu de temps après, ce type de technologie prêt-à-porter est devenue la nouvelle attraction à sensation dans les salons commerciaux de l’industrie minière. Qu’elle soit utile ou pas, toute forme de technologie innovante a tendance à être déconcertante lorsqu’elle fait son apparition. Essayer de comprendre ce qu’elle fait, ce qu’elle signifie et la façon dont elle nous permet, virtuellement, de changer de lieu dans le monde peut se révéler troublant. Cette édition examine ce thème sous différents angles. L’équipe de l’exploitation de North American Palladium (NAP) est en train de réinventer le fonctionnement d’une mine en roche dure maintenant qu’elle est dotée de l’infrastructure numérique nécessaire pour tenter un suivi en temps réel. Dans un même temps, elle apprend à faire face à l’effet perturbateur sur la main-d’œuvre du lancement de cette technologie. Eavan Moore décrit l’expérience de l’équipe dans son article intitulé A time for change (p. 34). Dans l’article Interactive engineering (p. 51), Alexandra LopezPacheco explique où nous a mené l’idée de réalité augmentée qui a inspiré la création des lunettes Google. Certes, revêtir un casque pour voir une mine se projeter sur les murs de la salle où l’on se trouve est un spectacle impressionnant, mais une fois dépassé ce stade, les ingénieurs et les scientifiques continuent de découvrir les avantages concrets de cet outil qui nous donne la possibilité de nous déplacer virtuellement dans le monde. Enfin, dans son article A short solution for the long haul (p. 40), Peter Braul rencontre les premiers adeptes dans le secteur minier du suivi en temps réel, aussi appelé « animation à intervalles courts », lesquels lui donne leurs points de vue quant à leur motivation, au développement de cette technologie et à ce qu’il faut pour qu’elle fonctionne. James Gallagher, chef de la direction de NAP, est persuadé que cette approche deviendra bientôt une pratique courante. Un conseil, cependant, face à ce genre d’innovations ; lorsque vous êtes confronté(e) à une nouvelle technologie, gardez votre sang-froid. Rappelez-vous que c’est la technologie qui est à notre service, et non l’inverse.
Au cours des quarante dernières années, on a observé un renforcement considérable des réglementations et des permis qui gouvernent l’exploitation minière. Certains gouvernements modifient ou annulent unilatéralement les réglementations et les permis au détriment des sociétés. En outre, la procédure pour obtenir un permis peut se révéler extraordinairement longue, même au Canada. Une fois accordés, les permis peuvent être révoqués, souvent en raison d’efforts acharnés d’ONG enclines à la confrontation souhaitant couper court à toute mise en valeur des mines. Les exemples sont nombreux. La Tanzanie a récemment mis un terme à l’exportation de concentrés d’Acadia Mining, une société détenue majoritairement par Barrick Gold. Le gouvernement réclame à la société la modique somme de 190 milliards $ d’arriérés d’impôts et d’intérêts, prétendument car cette dernière aurait omis de signaler l’intégralité de ses exportations sur la période allant de 2000 à 2017. Les négociations se poursuivent, mais le président Magufuli a menacé de fermer toutes les mines d’or si les pourparlers concernant ce différend traînent. La mine Grasberg de Freeport-McMoRan en Indonésie est un autre exemple. En janvier, les exportations de concentré de cuivre/or ont pris fin après que le gouvernement ait publié de nouvelles réglementations relatives à l’exportation de matériaux raffinés. Après des mois de négociations, les exportations ont repris, mais Grasberg doit faire face aux nouvelles exigences, relatives notamment à la construction d’une nouvelle fonderie très coûteuse et à la propriété nationale. Là aussi, les pourparlers continuent. Dans les deux cas, même s’ils ont de bonnes raisons pour vouloir procéder à ces changements, les gouvernements ont recours à des tactiques « musclées » pour parvenir à leurs fins. Malheureusement, ce comportement n’est pas uniquement risqué pour les pays en développement. L’expansion de l’oléoduc Trans Mountain de Kinder Morgan d’Edmonton à Vancouver en est une illustration parfaite. Les gouvernements fédéral et de Colombie-Britannique (C.-B.) ont tous deux approuvé ce projet après plusieurs années de demandes de permis et d’examens indépendants. Cependant, cette approbation s’accompagnait de près de 200 conditions. En outre, deux douzaines de banques canadiennes et internationales ont affecté à ce projet plus de 7 milliards $. Malheureusement, le nouveau gouvernement de C.-B., une coalition récemment formée par le Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) et le Parti vert du Canada (PVC), a annoncé son projet de bloquer l’expansion, qui pourrait d’après Kinder Morgan créer 15 000 emplois durant la période de construction. Les exemples susmentionnés montrent clairement les difficultés que rencontrent les secteurs des mines et de l’énergie pour lancer et mener à terme un projet. Les modifications aux contrats et les retards dans la délivrance de permis dans les pays développés ou en développement deviennent de plus en plus courants, ce qui ne contribue ni à susciter la confiance des investisseurs, ni à créer des emplois.
Ryan Bergen, Rédacteur en chef firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_CIM_Mag
56 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Kenneth (Ken) G. Thomas, Président de l’ICM
APPEL À CONTRIBUTIONS Date limite : 20 novembre 2017
SOUMETTEZ UN RÉSUMÉ ET TRAVAILLEZ AVEC NOUS AFIN DE BÂTIR L’AVENIR DE L’EXPLOITATION MINIÈRE ENSEMBLE. Le Congrès de l’ICM a toujours été un lieu de rassemblement pour les leaders et les innovateurs de l’industrie; un endroit où les esprits se réunissent pour combiner expertise, vision et dévouement afin de trouver des solutions aux plus grands défis de l’industrie et saisir les opportunités.
➔ Vous pouvez soumettre un résumé sous les thèmes suivants du programme technique : ➔ Meilleures pratiques en matière d’ingénierie de l’entretien et de la fiabilité
➔ Vision pour le futur: Le traitement du minerai au Canada
➔ Développement des projets miniers
➔ Exploitation minière souterraine
➔ Environnement et développement durable
➔ Métamorphose minière
➔ Leadership axé sur la sécurité ➔ Opérations pratiques
➔ Mécanique des roches ➔ Diversité et inclusion ➔ Gestion et finances (sur invitation)
➔ Géologie et exploration Note : Plus de détails ainsi qu’une liste des sous-thèmes seront disponibles sur le site Web
Une sélection de papiers techniques présentés durant le Congrès 2018 sera disponible en ligne via les Archives virtuelles de documents techniques au cim.org
Soumettez un résumé à
Les actualités Examen de mi-exercice De récents revirements heureux motivés par la demande de la Chine et la bonne réputation du Canada
Si la demande vorace de la Chine a largement amélioré le sort des sociétés minières spécialisées dans le charbon et le zinc expédiés par voie maritime au cours du premier semestre 2017, le nickel a quant à lui connu un ralentissement dans un marché excédentaire. Pendant ce temps, le secteur en plein essor des véhicules électriques a propulsé le jalonnement des réserves de lithium et de cobalt ainsi que leur exploration. La décision de la Chine d’injecter de l’argent dans plusieurs institutions chargées d’accorder des prêts pour relancer son économie a revigoré les grands consommateurs de métaux tels que les secteurs de l’infrastructure et de l’immobilier, et a entraîné une hausse considérable cette année de la demande de matières premières nécessaires à l’élaboration de l’acier. D’après Rory Johnston, économiste spécialisé dans les produits de base à la Banque Scotia, le premier semestre de l’année 2017 a été marqué par « de nombreux rebondissements » au niveau des prix des métaux, en particulier du charbon métallurgique et du minerai de fer dont le cours « a véritablement repris. » Étant donné qu’elle consomme plus de 50 % des métaux à l’échelle mondiale, « tout ce que fait [la Chine] a des répercussions considérables », déclarait-il. Les sociétés minières spécialisées dans le charbon métallurgique, comme Teck Resources au Canada, ont bénéficié de cette demande accrue lorsqu’elle 58 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Avec l’aimable autorisation de Teck Resources
Par Cecilia Keating
Teck a établi un record de ventes de charbon métallurgique et des records de production de charbon métallurgique et de zinc au deuxième trimestre cette année. La société exploite activement six mines de charbon métallurgique, dont Elk Valley (en photo ci-dessus).
a convergé avec deux chocs d’offre simultanés. D’une part, Pékin a réduit la production autorisée de charbon métallurgique au niveau national ; d’autre part, le cyclone Debbie a immobilisé les exploitations minières dans la région nord-est de l’Australie, grande productrice de charbon métallurgique. Par conséquent, Teck a déclaré un bénéfice de 577 millions de dollars pour son deuxième trimestre (T2), une hausse considérable par rapport au bénéfice de 15 millions de dollars déclaré l’année précédente. Cette aug-
mentation lui a permis d’établir un record de ventes de charbon métallurgique et des records de production de charbon métallurgique et de zinc au deuxième trimestre. Chris Stannell, porte-parole de Teck, a attribué la performance éblouissante de la société à sa production d’acier et « à la saturation du marché du zinc. » La demande accrue de la Chine a également eu des répercussions positives sur le zinc, utilisé en construction pour protéger l’acier et le fer contre la rouille. Lui aussi a connu une « histoire prometteuse en matière
les actualités d’offre », indiquait M. Johnston, étant donné qu’un certain nombre des plus grandes mines du monde ont épuisé leurs réserves de minerai rentable et ont fermé leurs portes récemment. Le bénéfice brut de Teck provenant de son unité fonctionnelle axée sur le zinc était de 153 millions de dollars au deuxième trimestre, par rapport à 99 millions de dollars l’année précédente ; quant à la société Trevali Mining de Vancouver, qui exploite une mine de zinc au Nouveau-Brunswick et une autre au Pérou, elle a déclaré un bénéfice de 126 000 $ au deuxième trimestre, par rapport à une perte de 335 000 $ à la même période l’année précédente. La société a également acheté à Glencore deux mines de zinc produisant 2 000 tonnes par jour, l’une en Namibie et l’autre au Burkina Faso. Les acquisitions de la fin du mois d’août doubleront la production de zinc de Trevali. D’autre part, une fois réglées les deux questions politiques ayant contribué à une brève hausse des prix au premier trimestre, le prix du nickel a baissé au deuxième trimestre 2017. Au mois de janvier, l’Indonésie a levé son interdiction d’exporter des minerais non traités, et la ministre de l’environnement des Philippines Regina Lopez, qui menaçait de fermer la moitié des mines de nickel du pays, a été congédiée au mois de mai. Le discours optimiste précipité antérieurement par ces deux questions était une anomalie dans cette décennie autrement caractérisée par le surplus de ce métal et des prix en chute libre. Vale Canada a rencontré des difficultés dans un marché déprimé, annonçant au mois d’août qu’elle devait suspendre ses projets de passer à l’exploitation souterraine de la mine de la baie Voisey. Elle avait annoncé au moins de mars la fermeture dans le courant de l’année de Stobie, l’une des plus vieilles mines de la région de Sudbury ; deux mois plus tard, la société déclarait que sa mine Birchtree au Manitoba serait placée en mode prolongé de soins et maintenance à compter du mois d’octobre. Dans son rapport du deuxième trimestre aux
investisseurs, Vale qualifiait ces mesures « d’actions nécessaires pour adapter notre offre de nickel à un contexte où les prix sont plus bas. » Malgré l’instabilité politique actuelle, le marché de l’or est resté relativement inchangé en 2017. D’après M. Johnston, cette précarité a été compensée par des « taux d’intérêt ne cessant d’augmenter ». Ceci étant dit, le prix de l’or a grimpé de 2,25 % le 11 août, suite à des tweets hostiles du président des États-Unis Donald Trump concernant la Corée du Nord. Les métaux « technologiques », en particulier le cobalt et le lithium qui sont tous deux en forte demande et font face à des pénuries, ont suscité un grand intérêt et le développement de projets rapide, déclarait Alex Laugharne, analyste chez CRU Group. « La situation évolue rapidement », indiquait-il. « Les sociétés profitent des prix beaucoup plus élevés que ceux pratiqués habituellement. » Les prix au comptant et contractuel du carbonate de lithium ont plus que doublé depuis le début de l’année 2015. Nemaska Lithium prévoit de commencer la production à l’échelle commerciale pour son projet Whabouchi au Québec avant le début de l’année 2019, avec l’aide d’un financement de prise ferme de 50 millions de dollars qui a été conclu au mois de juin. La société Lithium Americas de Vancouver, qui mène des projets importants en Argentine et au Nevada, déclarait des ventes d’une valeur de 1 600 000 $ US au deuxième trimestre, une hausse considérable par rapport aux 200 000 $ US au cours du même trimestre l’année précédente. Le cobalt est un autre composant important des batteries de véhicules électriques. La ville de Cobalt, en Ontario, et ses environs ont connu une ruée au jalonnement. À la fin du mois de juin, First Cobalt a finalisé ses projets de fusion avec Cobalt One et Cobalt Tech, créant ainsi la plus grande société entièrement axée sur l’exploration dans la région. Entre-temps, le groupe eCobalt de Vancouver a commencé ses activités de pré-construction dans le cadre de son projet Idaho
Cobalt. Il s’agit du seul projet à court terme principalement axé sur l’exploitation du cobalt aux États-Unis, ce qui n’est pas négligeable sachant que le cobalt se présente presque exclusivement comme un sous-produit ou un coproduit d’autres minéraux. On observe également une reprise de l’exploration alors que les matières premières se remettent d’une débâcle prolongée, et le Canada devrait en tirer profit. Le rapport Mines 2017, l’examen annuel de l’industrie minière de PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), indiquait que le Canada, qui a attiré 14 % du budget global consacré à l’exploration l’année dernière, est la meilleure destination au monde pour investir dans l’exploration minière. Selon ce rapport, cette réussite est le fruit de la « mentalité circonspecte et rigoureuse » que l’industrie minière a entretenu afin de « rassurer les investisseurs nerveux et mécontents. » Cette mentalité se traduit par une activité dans les « régions du monde les plus sûres sur le plan politique » telles que le Canada et l’Australie. « Nous sommes en train de sortir de la récession qui a affecté la plupart des matières premières de 2013 jusqu’à début 2016 », expliquait plus en détail M. Laugharne. Davantage de fonds sont injectés dans l’exploration par le biais du financement traditionnel « lorsque l’on passe d’un marché excédentaire ou équilibré à un marché sensible au déficit imminent ». Le Canada est un choix évident en partie parce que ce pays « est perçu, d’un point de vue juridictionnel, comme étant plus favorable à l’industrie minière » que ses concurrents considérés comme des havres de sécurité. Le secteur pétrolier et gazier du Canada a bénéficié de la même confiance en matière d’exploration. D’après les prévisions de juillet de la Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC, l’association des services pétroliers du Canada) concernant les activités de forage, 3 344 puits ont été forés au cours du premier semestre 2017, soit bien plus du double du nombre de puits forés durant la même période en 2016. ICM September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 59
Les sociétés minières productrices de zinc se dépêchent pour tirer parti de la remontée Les prix des métaux à un sommet en dix ans grâce à une demande accrue et à une baisse de la production
Trevali Mining a conclu à la fin du mois d’août l’acquisition des actifs de zinc de Glencore PLC, soit une participation de 90 % dans la mine Perkoa au Burkina Faso et de 80 % dans la mine Rosh Pinah en Namibie, pour un montant de 418 millions de dollars américains, en espèces et en actions. La hausse récente des prix du zinc a incité Trevali à finaliser la transaction avant que la valorisation des projets ne soit trop élevée. « C’est un heureux hasard que nous ayons pu conclure [la transaction] au premier trimestre, car, comme nous nous y attendions, les prix du zinc ont bondi et il semble que ceux-ci vont poursuivre sur leur lancée, ce que nous espérons », a dit Steve Stakiw, viceprésident des relations avec les investisseurs et des communications de Trevali, à CIM Magazine. Grâce à cette acquisition, Trevali se hisse au huitième rang mondial des producteurs de zinc. Le 16 août, le zinc pour livraison dans trois mois se vendait 3 029 $ US la tonne à la bourse des métaux de Londres, dépassant le record précédent de la dernière décennie, établi en octobre 2007. Compte tenu de la production des grandes sociétés minières à son plus bas, de la demande accrue à l’échelle mondiale et d’une pénurie de zinc en Chine, le prix du zinc à trois mois a atteint son plus haut niveau en dix ans. Les sociétés minières qui en profiteront sont celles qui sont déjà prêtes à produire, ce qui a fortement motivé les dernières acquisitions de Trevali. Cependant, d’autres sociétés, plus petites, récolteront également les fruits du rebond. Ascendant Resources, seule société canadienne qui produit uniquement du zinc à part Trevali, a fait l’acquisi60 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
Trevali Mining a finalisé l’acquisition de la mine de zinc Rosh Pinah (photo) et d’autres mines dans le but de tirer parti des prix du zinc les plus élevés en dix ans.
tion de la mine El Mochito, au Honduras, en décembre 2016, et la remet en état depuis. Elle s’attend à dégager des flux de trésorerie positifs d’ici à la fin de 2017. Le président et chef de la direction d’Ascendant, Chris Buncic, espère pouvoir tirer parti des cours actuels des métaux. « Bon nombre de petites sociétés minières canadiennes qui produisent du zinc ont élaboré des projets non financés qui, s’ils ne sont pas réalisés en temps opportun, ne profiteront pas des prix élevés du zinc. Selon moi, c’est un redressement exceptionnel en comparaison des dernières années, et nous sommes bien positionnés pour en profiter », a affirmé M. Buncic à CIM Magazine. Ce dernier a mentionné que la fermeture de plusieurs importantes mines de zinc dans le monde au cours des dernières années, notamment la mine de Lisheen de Vedanta, en Irlande, et la mine Century de MMG, en Australie, a contribué aux cours actuels du zinc. La fermeture de ces deux mines, en 2015,
a réduit la production annuelle mondiale du zinc de plus de 500 000 tonnes. Dans la même année, Glencore, le plus grand producteur de zinc, a réduit de 450 000 tonnes sa production annuelle de zinc, ce qui a fait bondir les prix du zinc de 7 % en une seule journée. Aucune mine de zinc ayant des productions équivalentes n’a remplacé ces mines, si bien que les stocks mondiaux reculent depuis plusieurs années, et de façon plus importante au cours des trois dernières. Même si certaines sociétés minières ont relancé les opérations dans des mines qui étaient en état d’entretien et de maintenance, et que d’autres ont entrepris des travaux d’exploration, il faudra que de nombreux projets arrivent à l’étape de la production avant que le marché ne se stabilise de nouveau. « Le zinc est un métal très cyclique, a souligné M. Stakiw, mais cela ne nous empêche pas de croire que la remontée du zinc pourrait être encore plus robuste et plus durable. » Il en voulait
Photo offerte par Trevali Mining Corporation
Par Elle Crosby
les actualités en bref pour preuve l’insuffisance actuelle d’une offre croissante venant de Chine – l’offre croissante de la Chine avait été un facteur déterminant dans la stabilisation des prix du zinc après la dernière remontée du métal en 2007 – et l’absence de grandes mines qui pourraient commencer à produire d’ici trois à cinq ans. Selon M. Stakiw, la demande des consommateurs pour le zinc a augmenté de 2 à 4 % annuellement dans les dernières années, portée par le développement d’infrastruc-
tures mondiales et l’expansion des marchés pour les biens de consommation tels que les voitures et les appareils. Pour répondre à cette demande, a-t-il affirmé, il faudrait qu’une grande mine commence à produire chaque année. Si ce rythme de progression se maintenait, les prix du zinc pourraient augmenter pendant encore quelques années. C’est ce qu’a affirmé l’analyste de la Banque Scotia, Rory Johnston, dans la dernière publication de l’indice des prix des marchandises de la Banque
Scotia, à la fin août. « Les perspectives du zinc demeurent fondamentalement solides, même si les prix peuvent reculer temporairement dans le même sens que le marché des métaux en général », a-t-il écrit. La Chine, le plus important consommateur et producteur de zinc, a adopté de nouveaux règlements environnementaux qui ont une incidence sur la capacité du pays de produire le métal, ce qui a renforcé les prix du zinc, et elle en adoptera d’autres au cours de l’hiver. ICM
Relève de la garde Le nouveau gouvernement de la Colombie-Britannique s’engage dans la lutte contre le projet d’expansion de Trans Mountain et remet en question le système de « fiabilité professionnelle » Bien que la nouvelle administration du Nouveau Parti démocratique de la Colombie-Britannique n’en soit qu’à ses débuts, les associations minières se disent modérément optimistes quant à l’établissement de bonnes relations avec le nouveau gouvernement. Cependant, de récentes actions pourraient indiquer que le gouvernement compte changer d’approche quant à l’exploitation des mines et ressources dans la province. Dans l’élection de mai, le Parti libéral a remporté deux sièges de plus que le NPD, son plus proche rival, mais le Parti vert a conclu une entente de coopération avec le NPD pour faire basculer le rapport de force et former le premier gouvernement minoritaire de la province depuis 1952. Deux initiatives de cette entente, soit la réalisation d’un examen du système de « fiabilité professionnelle » de la province et l’engagement de mettre fin au projet de Kinder Morgan, indiquent que la position du gouvernement pourrait être différente de celle de la précédente administration quant à l’exploitation des ressources. « Le projet de Kinder Morgan était un enjeu crucial pour le Parti vert », a dit M. Weaver à l’occasion d’une con-
Capture d’écran de Global News
Par Kate Sheridan
Le projet d’expansion de l’oléoduc de Trans Mountain comporte « simplement trop de risques pour notre environnement, notre économie et les milliers d’emplois existants », a affirmé George Heyman, ministre de l’Environnement de la ColombieBritannique, devant les journalistes.
férence de presse annonçant l’entente de coopération. Cependant, selon Bryan Cox, président et chef de la direction de l’Association minière de la ColombieBritannique, le nouveau gouvernement ne s’est pas dérobé devant les sociétés minières. « Le gouvernement, très proactif, nous a tendu la main, et j’ai eu l’occasion de discuter avec plusieurs ministres », a-t-il précisé. Comme l’a souligné M. Cox, au cours de la campagne en faveur des sociétés minières, orchestrée par les associations minières (mines, four-
nisseurs et prospecteurs) et lancée avant l’élection, toutes les parties « se disaient fortement favorables à l’exploitation minière et à la présence d’un secteur minier responsable, solide et vigoureux. » Le ministre de l’Environnement, George Heyman, figurait parmi les candidats électoraux qui ont répondu aux questions soulevées lors de la campagne. Dans ses réponses, il a rappelé les promesses faites par le NPD concernant le maintien du financement accréditif et des crédits d’impôt à l’exploration, et l’élimination de la taxe de vente provinciale sur l’électricité utilisée dans les opérations minières. Toutefois, le ministre a aussi annoncé que son administration demanderait le statut d’intervenant dans la contestation judiciaire en cours contre l’approbation par le gouvernement fédéral du projet d’expansion de l’oléoduc Trans Mountain de Kinder Morgan, une promesse faite par le NPD et le Parti vert durant la campagne électorale. Le 29 août, une cour fédérale a accordé ce statut au gouvernement. Thomas Berger, ancien juge de la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique, a agi comme conseiller externe du gouvernement lors des démarches September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 61
qui ont mené à l’obtention du statut d’intervenant. Malgré la contestation judiciaire, Kinder Morgan s’est engagée à entreprendre dès septembre les travaux de construction en Alberta. M. Cox a indiqué qu’il s’attendait à ce que le gouvernement décide d’entamer des procédures judiciaires. « La position du gouvernement face à Kinder Morgan fait partie de la plateforme du NPD depuis quelque temps déjà. Mon objectif est d’assurer la présence d’un secteur minier solide en Colombie-Britannique, tant pour les activités en cours que pour les projets à venir », a-t-il ajouté. Une révision du processus d’examen environnemental – plus particulièrement du fait que le gouvernement s’appuie sur l’opinion de professionnels qualifiés embauchés par les promoteurs de projet dans le cadre des évaluations environnementales – a des points communs avec une des recommandations du rapport du vérificateur général de la province sur l’incident de Mount Polley en 2016. « Au cours de la dernière décennie, le gouvernement a adopté une approche visant à réduire le fardeau réglementaire qui pèse sur l’industrie. Cette approche a accru la dépendance à l’égard des professionnels qualifiés embauchés par l’industrie, à qui l’on confie le travail qu’exigent les divers mandats du gouvernement », peut-on lire dans le rapport. Il y est également mentionné que le ministère de l’Énergie et des Mines n’avait pas confirmé de façon indépendante que les digues de retenue des résidus avaient été construites selon les plans soumis par un professionnel qualifié, ni que le ministère de l’Environnement avait mis en place un « processus clairement défini » pour revoir les données se rapportant à un site minier soumises par un professionnel qualifié. Comme l’a précisé M. Cox, les modalités de l’examen sont encore en cours d’élaboration et, selon lui, de nombreuses parties prenantes, dont les associations professionnelles, devraient avoir leur mot à dire. « Il s’agit d’une discussion vaste et importante. » Le rapport du vérificateur général a également proposé d’établir une unité 62 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
indépendante chargée de la conformité et de l’application. À l’époque, le gouvernement libéral n’avait pas pleinement accepté cette recommandation et avait même remis en question la conclusion de la trop grande dépendance du gouvernement à l’égard des professionnels qualifiés. « Il n’est pas acceptable que de simples apparences suffisent pour retirer au ministère de l’Énergie et des Mines la responsabilité de la conformité et de l’application », avait-il répondu, ajoutant que la dépendance excessive envers les professionnels qualifiés n’était pas justifiée dans le contexte du secteur minier. Néanmoins, la mise sur pied d’une unité de surveillance indépendante est l’une des tâches confiées à la nouvelle ministre responsable des mines, Michelle Mungall, en plus de la formation d’un nouveau groupe de travail sur les emplois dans le secteur minier. Un porte-parole du bureau de la ministre a indiqué qu’il était encore trop tôt pour aborder en détail ce que Mme Mungall compte faire à l’avenir. Le groupe de travail en est encore à ses débuts. Même si le mandat du groupe n’a pas encore été établi, M. Cox s’est dit très encouragé par la création
d’un groupe de travail sur les emplois durables dans le secteur minier. « Voilà une démarche que le gouvernement a déjà entreprise, et nous sommes très heureux d’y participer. » À titre de ministre responsable de la stratégie sur le changement climatique, M. Heyman a pour mandat, entre autres, de réduire les émissions de carbone de la province et de hausser les taxes sur le carbone, conformément aux cibles du gouvernement fédéral. Au cours de la campagne, le NPD a promis d’augmenter les taxes sur le carbone plus tôt et plus graduellement que le Parti libéral. M. Cox voit des occasions pour le secteur minier, et ce, même si le gouvernement favorise une économie à faible consommation de carbone. Les moteurs électriques ont besoin d’une quantité de cuivre nettement supérieure aux moteurs à combustion conventionnels, a-t-il dit, ce qui pourrait être une bénédiction pour les mineurs de cuivre de la province. « Étant donné la direction que nous empruntons en tant que société – une économie sobre en carbone – les mines sont absolument indispensables. » ICM
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Canada, rassemblons-nous Par Mauro Chiesa
elon toute vraisemblance, la compétitivité du Canada continuera de s’avérer déplorable. Le rapport sur la compétitivité mondiale 2016-2017 du Forum économique mondial a été publié en septembre 2016 et, à la suite de nombreuses prises de position de la part de notre nouveau gouvernement, le Canada a glissé de la 13e à la 15e place au classement établi à partir de l’indice de compétitivité (la Nouvelle-Zélande et Taïwan nous ayant dépassés). En y regardant de plus près, nous nous classons au neuvième rang en matière de santé et d’éducation primaire, au vingt-quatrième rang au chapitre de l’innovation et au vingttroisième rang en ce qui a trait aux activités de recherche et développement menées en collaboration entre les universités et les entreprises. Bien sûr, nous qui faisons partie des secteurs de l’extraction avons expérimenté ce déclin concurrentiel de première main. Avec l’échec de BHP dans l’acquisition de PotashCorp, l’initiative ratée de la Colombie-Britannique dans l’industrie du gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) et le blocage du développement du Cercle de feu, nous pouvons voir que le gouvernement envoie un message clair aux grandes sociétés minières, leur indiquant que le développement de projets ne sera ni assuré ni facile. Avez-vous besoin de plus d’exemples ? Le projet « New Prosperity » (Nouvelle prospérité) de Taseko a été rejeté à plusieurs reprises par le gouvernement fédéral. La mine Morrison appartenant à la société Pacific Booker a été fermée par le gouvernement de la Colombie-Britannique. Les tribunaux ont par la suite donné raison au plaignant, mais seulement après que l’entreprise eut manqué un supercycle lucratif et dépensé les capitaux disponibles en frais d’avocats plutôt que sur le projet. En outre, le développement du projet KSM (l’un des plus importants projets aurifères au monde) de la société Seabridge Gold, dans le nord-
ouest de la Colombie-Britannique, a cessé ; de son côté, ayant observé la défaillance du bassin de retenue des résidus de la mine Mount Polley et la réponse du gouvernement, l’Alaska est préoccupé par les répercussions potentielles en aval. Les investissements publics excessifs dans les projets énergétiques ont causé un préjudice supplémentaire à l’avantage concurrentiel du Canada. Dans le cas d’initiatives comme le projet de Muskrat Falls à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, le projet du site C en Colombie-Britannique, la politique d’énergie verte de l’Ontario et le projet Keeyask au Manitoba, les coûts à long terme, énergétiques et du service de la dette publique, doivent être pris en considération, sans parler du coût des occasions ratées en matière de capitaux publics. Les occasions ont abondé, mais elles ont été manquées. Le temps était opportun concernant l’initiative de la Colombie-Britannique dans le secteur du GNL : le marché asiatique et la pénurie de pipelines sur ce continent démontraient le potentiel de constituer une clientèle de base, de même qu’au Japon, qui a été secoué par un séisme. Toutefois, la stratégie de la Colombie-Britannique s’est avérée déplorable, en présumant que le secteur privé viendrait investir des milliards de dollars pour construire un terminal d’exportation comprenant des infrastructures et un cadre environnemental, social et fiscal non ou mal définis. Les investissements sérieux ont silencieusement et rapidement disparu. La Colombie-Britannique a tenté, par un ultime effort, de préserver l’occasion, mais celle-ci s’est dissipée et pourrait ne pas se représenter de sitôt. Il y a également eu la tentative de rachat de PotashCorp en 2010. Bien que le gouvernement provincial soit farouchement de droite, il a bloqué l’acquisition par BHP. Pour quelle raison ? Parce que l’acquisition menaçait de prendre une grosse partie des revenus
fiscaux de la Saskatchewan. À l’époque, la potasse générait 22 pour cent des revenus de la province. Dans l’est du Canada, la frustration liée au Cercle de feu a mis en évidence la législation minière désuète de l’Ontario. Bien que le développement de l’arrièrepays bénéficie d’une réduction du taux d’imposition provincial de cinq pour cent, les économies qui en résultent sont loin d’être suffisantes pour couvrir les besoins colossaux en infrastructures pour de tels projets en régions éloignées. Avec les coûts d’infrastructures se comptabilisant en milliards de dollars et toutes sortes d’avantages sociaux en découlant, le gouvernement devrait reconsidérer la politique, à moins qu’il préfère que le Nord ontarien ne produise que de l’or et des diamants, qui peuvent être exportés sans la nécessité d’avoir des routes ou de conclure des ententes complexes avec les Autochtones. Quelles sont donc les leçons à tirer ? Une meilleure collaboration entre les gouvernements fédéral et provinciaux constituerait un début. Compter sur des règlements obsolètes comme la législation minière de l’Ontario datant des années 1930 et sur des amendements ad hoc réactionnaires ne suffit pas. La solution consiste à intégrer Ottawa dans le processus et à coordonner le secteur en lui donnant une seule voix, parce que le marché n’est pas intéressé aux lois et aux querelles provinciales fastidieuses et vétustes. La Confédération a octroyé des droits de propriété aux provinces, afin qu’elles cèdent certains territoires à cet effet. Dans le marché mondial d’aujourd’hui, c’est le pays qui est jugé par les acteurs, et ces derniers peuvent choisir d’éviter le Canada au profit de pays dotés de systèmes plus souples et modernes. ICM Mauro Chiesa possède plus de 35 ans d’expérience en financement et en services-conseils dans le domaine des projets d’extraction et d’infrastructures. Il a travaillé avec des banques multinationales à New York, au Groupe de la Banque mondiale et à EDC.
September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 63
Avec l'aimable autorisation d'Atlantic Gold
Une fois le minerai extrait à Touquoy, le concasseur à mâchoires et l'alimentateur-scalpeur à grille seront transférés au gisement de Beaver Dam.
perles de l’Atlantique Alors qu’elle s’efforce de faire renaître l’exploitation aurifère en Nouvelle-Écosse, l’équipe d’Atlantic Gold adopte une nouvelle approche en matière de mise en valeur des mines. Par Eavan Moore
aryse Bélanger est fière du premier projet qu’elle dirige au sein de la société Atlantic Gold. Le projet Moose River Consolidated en Nouvelle-Écosse, dont la valeur est de 137,3 millions $, devrait commencer sa production d’or d’ici octobre. « C’est un projet de petite envergure, mais il est bien fait et pensé intelligemment », déclarait Mme Bélanger, directrice de l’exploitation chez Atlantic Gold depuis juillet 2016. « Comme vous pouvez le constater, ce projet me tient beaucoup à cœur. » Moose River commence tout doucement, par ce que la société qualifie de « première étape » du projet. Les réserves minérales prouvées et probables du projet Touquoy sont de 425 000 onces sur la base d’une production de 9,2 millions de tonnes (Mt), à une teneur moyenne de 1,44 gramme par tonne
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(g/t) ; celles du projet Beaver Dam à proximité sont de 335 000 onces sur la base d’une production de 7,25 Mt, à une teneur de 1,44 g/t. Moose River a une longue histoire. Une étude provinciale de 1861 a entraîné une ruée vers l’or en Nouvelle-Écosse et la désignation d’un total de 65 districts d’exploitation aurifère au début des années 1900, dont Sherbrooke, Seal Harbour et Tangier. La Nouvelle-Écosse, et plus spécifiquement la grauwacke de la période cambrienne et l’ardoise sus-jacente que l’on trouve dans le groupe de Meguma dans le sud, sont devenues célèbres pour leurs filons de quartz aurifère, souvent de haute teneur et auxquels on accède par des chantiers souterrains. Entre 1877 et la Première Guerre mondiale, les mines d’or de Moose River ont produit environ 21 500 onces. Au milieu du XXe siècle, l’exploitation minière dans la province n’était pas très intense. Pourtant, dans les années 1980 et 1990, une série de sociétés ont exploré les possibilités qu’offrait l’exploitation à ciel ouvert au gisement Touquoy, où était disséminé dans de l’argilite de l’or de teneur moyenne mais non réfractaire. Atlantic Gold s’est engagée dans ces activités au début des années 2000, une période très prospère. Outre Touquoy et Beaver Dam, la société explore deux autres gisements, Cochrane Hill et Fifteen Mile Stream, un investissement qu’elle qualifie globalement de « collier de perles. » Pour l’instant, Touquoy est la seule mine produisant de l’or dans la province, et elle emploiera directement jusqu’à 215 personnes d’ici l’automne.
profil de projet
Avec l’aimable autorisation de Atlantic Gold
sera au tour du gisement Beaver Dam d’être exploité. Tout le minerai sera traité à l’usine de traitement de Touquoy, dont “En tant que groupe, nous la capacité est de 250 tonnes par jour. L’usine repose sur des méthodes de sommes très fiers des aspects broyage standards, à savoir un circuit de techniques intelligents qui concassage en trois étapes, puis un broyeur à boulets, un concentrateur graont été intégrés dans la vimétrique, un circuit de lixiviation au conception” carbone et une fonderie qui produira des lingots d’argent aurifère. Dans le cas de Maryse Bélanger, figure de cette première étape, le site directrice de l’exploitation produira annuellement quelque 87 000 onces en moyenne sur une période d’au moins huit ans et demi, pour des coûts nécessaires au maintien de la production estimés à 690 $ l’once et un taux de récupération de l’or de 94 %. Dans un élan inhabituel, Atlantic Gold a signé un contrat Mme Bélanger est cependant satisfaite des détails sur lesd’ingénierie-approvisionnement-construction (contrat IAC) à quels a travaillé Ausenco dans l’usine de traitement. « En tant prix fixe avec la société Ausenco. Il s’agit du premier contrat en que groupe, nous sommes très fiers des aspects techniques son genre pour une usine de traitement de l’or, qui réduit les intelligents qui ont été intégrés dans la conception », indirisques de surcoûts en garantissant à la société minière qu’elle quait-elle. Outre ses travaux antérieurs chez Mirabela Nickel, n’en subira pas les contrecoups. Pour le contractant, les avan- Goldcorp et Kinross Gold, Mme Bélanger a également été directages se traduisent à la fois par la possibilité d’offrir un coût trice de la Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC, la prévisible, et par une grande motivation pour travailler effica- coalition pour le broyage écoénergétique) ; c’est la possibilité cement. D’importants travaux préparatoires sont cependant de mettre en œuvre des pratiques de type mine-to-mill (« de nécessaires pour les deux parties, ce qui, selon Mme Bélanger, l’extraction au broyage ») en se concentrant sur l’énergie qui l’a est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles cette option est souvent attiré chez Atlantic, entre autres. négligée. « Tout le monde doit faire preuve de clarté », indiLe bâtiment abritant le concentrateur a une hauteur de plaquait-elle. « Côté client, on doit énoncer ce que l’on désire ; fond de 45 mètres afin de pouvoir accueillir du matériel de côté contractant, on doit annoncer le coût total. » Les travaux grande taille, mais le reste de l’usine a un plafond plus bas de d’ingénierie circonstanciés doivent inclure une sélection pré- manière à économiser sur le chauffage, l’aération et la climaticise de l’équipement, incluant jusqu’au modèle de pompes et sation. Le projet Moose River appliquera également des praleur taille ; quant aux fournisseurs, ils doivent présenter des tiques d’optimisation de l’abattage. « De plus en plus de devis exacts. personnes adoptent cette approche », indiquait Mme Bélanger, me Du point de vue de M Bélanger, ces travaux en valaient la « car nous sommes bien conscients que dans certains cas, il est peine. « Cette expérience s’est révélée très enrichissante », parfois 30 fois moins coûteux de concasser le matériau dans la indiquait-elle. « En tant que client, nous avons un calendrier mine plutôt que dans l’usine. » et un budget bien établis. » Les sept cuves de lixiviation ont été fabriquées pour AtlanLe processus de construction ne s’est cependant pas tic Gold par la société Modular Fabrication établie à Miramidéroulé sans tracas. Mme Bélanger nous a fait part des leçons chi, dans la province voisine du Nouveau-Brunswick. « Leur qu’elle a apprises à ses dépens. « N’essayez pas de construire installation, qui requiert normalement trois ou quatre en hiver une base en argile pour une digue à stériles. » Lorsque semaines, ne nous a pris que quatre ou cinq jours », indiquaitdes lentilles gelées se forment dans l’argile, il faut jeter le maté- elle, « car tout était préfabriqué et il nous a suffit d’encastrer riau ; étant donné les températures durant la période hivernale les pièces et de remplir les cuves. » La proximité du fabricant en Nouvelle-Écosse, la plage horaire permettant de travailler a également facilité les visites de contrôle. en toute sécurité avec l’argile n’est que de deux heures en La même approche a été adoptée pour le circuit de concasmilieu de journée. sage, conçu par Metso mais fabriqué à Miramichi. D’une part, cette proximité a réduit le temps d’installation à un mois ; d’autre part, elle permettra de transférer le matériel de concassage primaire à Beaver Dam une fois le gisement de Touquoy À de nombreux égards, ce projet est une exploitation à ciel épuisé. Le concasseur à mâchoires et l’alimentateur-scalpeur à ouvert et une usine de traitement traditionnelles. Le gisement grille seront transférés à Beaver Dam ; le minerai sera transTouquoy sera exploité à l’aide de matériel loué, et une fois les porté sur 37 kilomètres (km) au concentrateur de Touquoy ressources épuisées après cinq années d’activités minières, ce pour le concassage secondaire.
Élimination des surcoûts
September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 65
Dans le cadre de ses efforts pour réduire la consommation d’énergie, Atlantic cherche à installer une commande de processus automatisée dans son concentrateur. Le broyeur à boulets aura un entraînement à vitesse variable, et d’après une première évaluation, la mine pourrait réaliser d’importantes économies en installant un système qui adapte la vitesse de l’entraînement aux caractéristiques spécifiques du minerai, lesquelles seront détectées par des capteurs sophistiqués. L’équipe Métallurgie du site sera chargée de perfectionner le système de commande au fil du temps à mesure que l’on appréhende mieux les impacts d’une qualité et d’une quantité variables du minerai. Ce système présentera également des avantages en termes L’exploitation comprend une machine de pulvérisation et lixiviation qui servira à la planification de la mine d’entretien ; on pourra notamment détecter et à la réconciliation des boulets broyants coincés, réduire les dommages causés au réseau électrique du site en raison d’irrégula- d’entamer la production », expliquait Mme Bélanger. « Nous rités au niveau de la tension, et modérer l’usure des pouvons ainsi obtenir des informations de très forte densité revêtements. avant de commencer l’extraction ; cela nous donne la possibiPendant la production, ceci permettra de respecter le calen- lité d’adapter notre modèle à faible portée et permet une drier de la concentration, d’éviter le surbroyage et de réduire meilleure planification de la mine car nous pouvons mieux l’utilisation d’énergie par le projet. La consommation énergé- définir la séparation des déchets et du minerai. Actuellement, tique annuelle du broyeur à boulets est de 13 882 mégawatt- nous avons 14 mois de forage derrière nous et nous constatons heures par an (MWh/an), soit presque la moitié de la une très bonne corrélation avec notre modèle de blocs de resconsommation énergétique totale de l’usine de Touquoy. Il est sources. » particulièrement important de réduire les périodes de pointe de Ce forage intense coûte environ 20 cents par tonne extraite. la demande d’énergie. « La demande de pointe est un élément « Si l’on considère le coût de toutes ces décisions, notamment fondamental de la tarification établie par Nova Scotia Power », en termes de transport du minerai vers le terril ou des déchets déclarait Mme Bélanger. « L’indice de consommation d’électricité vers l’usine, ces 20 cents par tonne sont insignifiants en comaux niveaux industriel et résidentiel en Nouvelle-Écosse fait paraison », ajoutait-elle. déjà partie de l’un des plus élevés en Amérique du Nord ; ainsi, Cette méthode s’appelle le forage de contrôle de la teneur, des améliorations dans ce domaine pourraient se traduire par ou forage relatif à la densité de la production. Si elle est larged’importantes réductions des coûts. » ment utilisée en Australie et en Afrique occidentale, elle est Parmi les autres plans d’économie d’énergie figurent les unique au Canada, où les exploitations ont plutôt tendance à évaluations de l’oxygène dissous dans le processus de lixivia- tester les trous de mine pour préparer un modèle de planification, qui pourraient fournir de meilleures commandes au sys- tion à faible portée, expliquait Mme Bélanger. « De notre point tème de soufflerie. Si Mme Bélanger s’attend à ce que la plupart de vue, c’est une solution de dernière minute. En fonction de des idées relatives aux économies d’énergie soient mises en la foreuse ou de la machine, il est difficile de commencer l’exœuvre, Atlantic n’a pas encore en main les devis des fournis- ploitation. » En outre, indiquait Mme Bélanger, la taille des seurs de capteurs et de logiciels. Grâce aux économies impor- échantillons recueillis n’est pas adaptée à la minéralisation distantes envisagées, il est fort probable que le programme dédié séminée. Elle ajoutait qu’Atlantic est la seule société minière à l’efficacité énergétique de la Nouvelle-Écosse finance une d’Amérique du Nord à posséder une machine de pulvérisation partie de ces nouvelles technologies. et lixiviation qui évalue des échantillons pouvant atteindre un kilogramme (kg). « Nous avons travaillé d’arrache-pied pour peaufiner et améliorer les protocoles d’échantillonnage et de séparation afin d’optimiser la précision des échantillons dans Ces dernières années, Atlantic Gold avait procédé à une ce type de roches avant les pressions imposées par l’exploitaplanification préparatoire en appliquant la méthode de forage tion minière et la production. » par circulation inverse sur des grilles de cinq mètres sur cinq, Un autre avantage, expliquait Mme Bélanger, est que « le ou cinq mètres sur dix. « Nous forons quatre gradins avant forage de contrôle de la teneur constitue également un outil de
Forage de contrôle de la teneur
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Avec l’aimable autorisation de Mineral Process Control
Automatisation du concentrateur
profil de projet réconciliation des tonnes et de la teneur dans les blocs miniers à l’aide de données à haute densité. Mis à part l’exploitation même de ces blocs, il s’agit là de la méthode la plus précise pour prévoir les tonnes et la teneur réelles. »
Création d’une équipe me
Pour M Bélanger, qui a travaillé pendant de nombreuses années avec de plus grandes sociétés minières, travailler dans une petite société et y créer une équipe était nouveau. « Peu de personnes ont la possibilité de prendre un projet dès le début, et je peux vous assurer que c’est une expérience exceptionnelle », déclarait-elle. Sept membres de l’équipe de direction à Vancouver surveillent les deux mines ainsi qu’une installation de traitement en Nouvelle-Écosse. Étant donné l’ampleur de ces projets, il semblait raisonnable de disposer sur place des compétences techniques requises et d’accorder un maximum de liberté en termes de prise de décision. Atlantic Gold a commencé à appliquer des principes d’exécution des travaux en toute sécurité et de responsabilisation, aussi la société a également souhaité que sa structure hiérarchique soit loyale et simple. Dans la pratique, ceci s’est traduit par une main-d’œuvre travaillant à plein temps et ayant un soutien minimal du contractant. « Tout le monde doit se comporter comme le propriétaire, ce
qui est difficile à mettre en œuvre avec un contractant », expliquait Mme Bélanger. La main-d’œuvre est composée à 98 % d’habitants de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Atlantic Gold a cherché à ramener dans la province des personnes hautement qualifiées sur le plan technique, et selon Mme Bélanger, cet effort a été couronné de succès. « Nous avons eu la grande chance de trouver des professionnels hautement qualifiés », déclarait-elle. « Nombre d’entre eux étaient originaires de Nouvelle-Écosse, mais n’ont jamais travaillé dans la province. Pour certains, c’était un choix de vie ; ils avaient le choix entre continuer de faire la navette entre leur lieu de vie et de travail, de travailler dans la jungle ou de revenir travailler ici et de rentrer chez eux tous les soirs comme tout le monde. » La durée de vie de huit ans et demi initialement envisagée pour la mine est susceptible d’être prolongée, car les propriétés sont en cours d’exploration. La campagne de forage la plus récente a établi une estimation des ressources mesurées et indiquées pour Cochrane Hill à 10,6 Mt, dont la teneur est de 1,16 g/t pour 398 000 onces, avec une teneur de coupure de 0,35 g/t ; pour Fifteen Mile Stream, ces ressources sont de 10,5 Mt, avec une teneur de 1,33 g/t pour 452 000 onces. Atlantic Gold devrait achever son étude de préfaisabilité dans le courant du quatrième trimestre 2017 ; l’exploitation minière à Cochrane Hill pourrait commencer d’ici quelques années, ajoutant une valeur certaine au collier de perles d’Atlantic. ICM
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September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 67
CIM Journal Abstracts from CIM Journal, Vol. 8, No. 3
Smelter off-gas waste heat and carbon dioxide sequestration to promote production of biodiesel C. A. Laamanen and H. Shang, Bharti School of Engineering, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; G. M. Ross, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; J. A. Scott, Bharti School of Engineering, Laurentian University and Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Indirect recovery and use of waste heat contained in smelter off-gas is proposed to expand regions available for yearround, on-site production of micro-algae–sourced biodiesel, a fuel that could be used in underground machinery. A dynamic model of an off-gas heat exchanger describes capture and distribution of heat into open, external, rectangular micro-algae ponds. Smelter off-gas contains sufficient energy to maintain large-scale micro-algae cultivation pond temperatures above 15°C, even with winter ambient temperatures below –15°C. Results highlight opportunities that could lie in tapping these heat resources to produce renewable biofuels on-site and sequester CO2 while leaving the industrial process unaffected.
Dense medium separation: An effective and robust preconcentration technology E. Legault-Seguin and C. Mohns, SGS Canada Inc., Lakefield, Ontario, Canada; M. Rylatt, Independent Consultant, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
With energy costs increasing and ore grades diminishing, the role of preconcentration in hard-rock mining operations has gained greater interest. Dense medium separation is a process that can be conducted at particle sizes from 250 to 0.50 mm with high separation efficiency, depending on liberation characteristics of the valuable minerals. Pilot-plant case studies conducted at the SGS Lakefield site are presented, including mineral systems such as spodumene, sulfide-bearing gold ores, and complex sulfide ores. These case studies demonstrate that, for amenable ores, mass rejection of 20–60% is possible while maintaining recoveries of greater than 90%.
Quantitative correlation of worldview to resource development conflict M. B. Lytle, National Energy Board, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; M. Hitch, Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Resource development conflicts arise largely due to differences in worldview between those who support and those who oppose development. This paper illustrates how societies and civilizations with different worldviews produce different levels of creative and economic energy. A questionnaire was created to build a database of responses to test whether worldview and resource development are correlated. Factor and multivariate regression analysis determined correlations for respondent groupings. Results showed a positive correlation between the respondents’ worldviews and their attitudes toward resource development. Correlations became stronger as the homogeneity of the sample subgroups increased.
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CIM Journal Abstracts from CIM Journal, Vol. 8, No. 3
Larger tonnages, larger crushers? K. L. Boyd, KLB Enterprises Inc., Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Can the increasing tonnages of ore and waste mined today be accommodated simply by using bigger and better crushers? This paper reviews the latest primary crushing and large cone crusher designs. It highlights how—in addition to using the larger crushers now available—maximizing the utilization percentages in each stage of the rock size reduction circuit will assist in meeting the larger production requirements of existing and new mining operations. Its goal is to help consultants and operators select the optimal equipment and custom-designed items in material handling from the mine to the mill, maximizing operating hours per year.
Interactive visualization of a base-metal concentrator S. Ata, School of Mining Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia
Virtual reality, a 3D computer-generated environment, has become a recognized delivery system for many forms of education. This paper describes the application of virtual reality to mineral processing education. An interactive mineral processing visualization module developed at the University of New South Wales, Australia, provides users with an overview of a base-metal concentrator and details about how the mined ore progresses through stages in processing. The module also involves developing instructional based plant layouts and flowsheets in the virtual environment. These assist the user in understanding the essential components of the base-metal concentrator.
Hydrodynamic simulation of oil sand multiphase flow in an at-face slurry system E. Zheng, J. Szymanski, T. Joseph, R. Hall, and M. Curley, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Hydraulic transportation efficiency and production optimization are considerations in the surface extraction of Athabasca oil sand deposits. To reduce the dependence on haul trucks, it is possible to extend the hydraulic transport system to production faces using a mobile at-face slurry system (AFSS). The flexible arrangement of connected pipelines transports slurried minerals from the mining face to the processing plant. An experimentally verified mathematical model indicates the friction loss of oil sand slurry associated with the AFSS. Laboratory-scale testing enables extended analyses for examining pipeline slurry transport in an oil sands environment.
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Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly Papers in CMQ, Vol. 55, No. 2
Numerical Simulation of Copper Recovery from Converter Slags by the Utilisation of Spent Potlining (SPL) from Aluminium Electrolytic Cells D. Yu and K. Chattopadhyay, University of Toronto, Process Metallurgy & Modelling Group, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Electrodeposition of nickel–phosphorus from a highly conductive citrate bath for wire bonding applications M. Dadvand, Energic Mareriaux Telecommunications, Lionel-Boulet, Varennes Quebec, Canada; N. Dadvand and G. J. Kipouros, Materials Engineering, Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Effect of prior austempering heat treatment on the microstructure, mechanical properties and high-stress abrasive wear behaviour of a 0·33% C dual-phase steel N. Shukla, Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, National Institute of Technology Durgapur, Durgapur, West Bengal, India; H. Roy, NDT & Metallurgy Group, CDIS-CMERI, Durgapur, India; and B. K. Show, Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, National Institute of Technology Durgapur, Durgapur, West Bengal, India
Modelling of heat flow and interdendritic crack formation in twin-roll strip casting of aluminium alloys M. O. El-Bealy, Metals Processing & Technology, Military Technical College, Cairo Egypt
DSC and FIB/TEM investigation of calcium and yttrium additions in the sintering of magnesium powder P. Burke, Materials Engineering, Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; J. Li, CanmetMATERIALS, Natural Resources Canada, Hamilton Ontario, Canada; and G. J. Kipouros, Materials Engineering, Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
The role of solution heat treatment on corrosion and mechanical behaviour of Mg– Zn biodegradable alloys A. Fereidouni Lotfabadi, H. R. Bakhsheshi-Rad, M. H. Idris, E. Hamzah, Department of Materials, Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, Malaysia; and M. Kasiri-Asgarani, Advanced Materials Research Centre, Materials Engineering Department, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran
Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly Papers in CMQ, Vol. 55, No. 2
Hot corrosion behavior of Cr-modified NiAl coatings on 310 stainless steel produced by a gas tungsten arc cladding process M. Atapour, S. Pourmohammadi, and F. Ashrafizadeh, Department of Materials Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahah, Iran
Dry sliding wear behaviour of a novel 6351 Al-Al4SiC4 composite at high loads M. Kumar Mondal, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, National Institute of Technology Durgapur, Durgapur, West Bangal, India; K. Biswas, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal, India; and J. Maity, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, National Institute of Technology Durgapur, Durgapur, West Bangal, India
Recyclability assessment of Al 7075 chips produced by cold comminution and consolidation using spark plasma sintering P. Hendrickx, M. M. Tünçay, and M. Brochu, REGAL Aluminum Research Centre, Materials Engineering Department, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
An experimental investigation of the gasification of graphite by carbon dioxide J. Zhang, School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; G. Zhang, School of Mechanical Materials & Mechatronic Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia; O. Ostrovski, School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Three-dimensional discrete element method simulation of the effect of bottom structure on solid flow in COREX shaft furnace H. F. Li, H. Zhou, Z. G. Luo, T. Zhang, Y. You, and Z. S. Zou, School of Materials and Metallurgy, Northeastern University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
Physical simulation of converter steelmaking with powder injection B. Tang, X. Wang, Z. Zou, and A. Yu, Key Laboratory of Ecological Utilization of Multi-Metal Intergrown Ores of Education of Ministry, Northeastern University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly Papers in CMQ, Vol. 55, No. 2
Influence of MgO, Al2O3 and CaO/SiO2 on the Viscosity of Blast Furnace Type Slag with High Al2O3 and 5 wt-% TiO2 Z. Yan, X. Lv, J. Zhang, Y. Qin, and C. Bai, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Chongqing University, China
Pyrite Oxidation Kinetics in an Oxygen–nitrogen Atmosphere at Temperatures from 400 to 500°C A. Aracena, Escuela de Ingeniería Química, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile; O. Jerez, Instituto de Geología Económica Aplicada (GEA), Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile; R. Ortiz and J. Morales, Escuela de Ingeniería Química, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, General Cruz, Valparaíso, Chile
Solubility and Activity of Oxygen in Liquid Bismuth K. T. Jacob and A. K. Mansoor, Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Kinetic Study on the Metallothermic Reduction of Chromite Ore Using Magnesium Scrap R. Ochoa, A. Flores, J. Torres, J. Guía, Cinvestav-Saltillo, Industria Metalurgica Avenue No.1062, Saltillo-Ramos Arizpe Industrial Park, Ramos Arizpe Coahuila, México; and R. Muñiz, Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila, México Highway Km 13, Las Glorias, Arteaga Coahuila, Mexico
Study on Electrical Conductivity of FexO–CaO–SiO2–Al2O3 Slags J.-H. Liu, G.-H. Zhang, Y.-D. Wu, and K.-C. Chou, State Key Laboratory of Advanced Metallurgy, University of Science and Technology, Beijing, China
High-temperature Phase Equilibria of Cu–O–Al2O3 System in Air N. Hellstén, J. Hamuyuni, and P. Taskinen, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology Research Group of Thermodynamics and Modelling, Finland
Distribution Equilibria and Slag Chemistry of DON Smelting D. Strengell, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Aalto, Finland; K. Avarmaa, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Aalto, Finland; H. Johto, Boliden Harjavalta, Harjavalta Finland; and P. Taskinen, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Aalto, Finland
Phase Equilibria of the Na2O–SiO2 System Between 1173 and 1873 K I. Santoso, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Metallurgical Thermodynamic and Modelling Research Group, Espoo, Finland and Institut Teknologi Bandung, Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Bandung, Indonesia; and P. Taskinen, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Metallurgical Thermodynamic and Modelling Research Group, Espoo, Finland
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September/October • Septembre/Octobre 2017 | 73
MINING LORE The miner’s bible By Cecilia Keating
eorge Bauer, a scholar of classics, philosophy and lan- English in 1912 with his wife Lou, a geology major and an exguages, moved to the mountains of Bohemia, in the Latin teacher, lauded Agricola as “the first to found any of the present-day Czech Republic to take a post as a physi- natural sciences upon research and observation, as opposed to cian in the town of Joachimsthal. When previous fruitless speculation.” he arrived in 1527, the region was a The 12 books embrace all aspects of booming mining camp, which included Renaissance mining, from practical advice a silver mine that produced three million for mine-owners (worship God, live on site, ounces annually. What Bauer began to elect a second-in-command, own several learn there set both the course for his properties), to legal advice for specific intellectual life and the foundation for issues. He dedicated two books to finding the next 200 years of the mining and veins, and another to the different tools and metallurgy industries. machines available to miners. Prospecting, Bauer was born in Saxony in presentmechanical engineering, processing and day Germany in 1494. After studying at smelting ore, and the manufacture of salt, the University of Leipzig and a short soda, alum, vitriol (used in medieval dyes, career as a school teacher, he returned to The work involved in creating 289 detailed woodcut medicines and as a purifying agent in smeltuniversity to study medicine in Bologna, illustrations delayed the publication of De Re Metallica ing), sulfur, bitumen and glass are all covuntil after Bauer’s death in 1556. The illustration Venice, and Padua. He was initially above, from Book XII, depicts prospecting work. ered in detail. drawn to the mines of Joachimsthal hopAgricola provided detailed descriptions ing to discover medical drugs from ore but soon shifted his of cutting-edge 16th-century mining technology, including the focus. He spent his free time visiting the town’s mines and use of water power for crushing ore and improvements in sucsmelters and eventually quit his job to observe the industry tion pumps and underground ventilation systems. These were full-time. In 1533, Bauer moved to Chemnitz in Saxony, also a becoming increasingly necessary as mine shafts were sunk prolific mining town, where he resumed a post as a town deeper into the ground. physician and remained for the rest of his life. He also provided a detailed account of diseases and acciThe explosion of mining activity in the regions of Saxony dents most prevalent among workers, along with recommenand Bohemia was a result of an increased European demand dations on how to prevent them. These included the “difficulty for metals in the late Middle Ages. Silver was increasingly in breathing and destruction of the lungs,” caused by dust bought and sold as a commodity as well as being used as inhalation. Agricola’s focus on miners’ health and safety, money. Coins made from Joachimsthal silver were known as inspired by his medical background, established the series as “thalers” – the original dollar. one of the first ever published occupational health handbooks. In 1533 Bauer started writing De Re Metallica, his seminal Over the 200 years that followed, De Re Metallica was treatise on mining and metallurgy. While it was completed in reprinted in a number of Latin, German and Italian editions. It 1550, he did not send it to publishers until 1553 and the 12- remained a practical reference for many, given that the German volume series of books was not published until a year after his mining technology it described was the most advanced and death in 1556, due to the work involved in creating 289 sophisticated in Europe. detailed woodcut illustrations to accompany the text. The Hoovers’ translated English edition framed and contextuDe Re Metallica, published under the Latin version of alized the translated text with a glut of introductory material, Bauer’s name, Georgius Agricola, remained the standard text- alongside countless footnotes and appendices. It was serialized in book on mining and metallurgy for more than 200 years and a popular mining magazine based out of London, and won a Gold earned Agricola the moniker the “father of mineralogy.” Medal from the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America. Churches chained copies to their altars, so priests could transThe translation process was made all the more laborious late parts of the Latin text to their miner congregations. because Agricola had invented countless Latin terms to In De Re Metallica, Agricola rejected the views of many describe medieval mining processes and pieces of equipment. “fraudulent” alchemists and pioneered a new approach to sci- Hoover and his wife had to decipher what he was describing entific writing, where his conclusions were based on observa- by assumption and guesswork. tion and field experience rather than dogma or conjecture. The Hoovers’ translation remains in print today as the only Mining engineer and former United States president Herbert English version. It includes the woodcut illustrations found in Hoover, who spent five years translating De Re Metallica into Agricola’s original text. CIM 74 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 12, No. 6
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Atlantic Gold’s Moose River Consolidated project is a fresh take in a storied Nova Scotia gold district • Visual impact - Miners are discove...
Published on Sep 1, 2017
Atlantic Gold’s Moose River Consolidated project is a fresh take in a storied Nova Scotia gold district • Visual impact - Miners are discove...