As they mature, underground mines are reaching new depths, and encountering issues with productivity, rising costs and worker safety. Technologies such as ventilation on demand, and automated and remotely operated equipment are helping miners meet the heat, ventilation and other challenges of mining at several kilometres depth.
One of the most interesting new technologies to emerge in response to these challenges is the rise of battery-powered underground mining equipment. This month, we’re pleased to bring you the first part in a series of articles about the electric mine of the future.
We’re excited to take an in-depth look over several issues at some of the practical and technical issues miners and suppliers are tackling as the industry begins a transition to electric underground mines.
This month, we profile Maclean Engineering, a Collingwood, Ont.-based company that is quickly becoming a leading supplier of battery-powered mobile equipment for underground mines. Of particular note, the company credits Goldcorp for giving it the push it needed to develop its electric vehicle line. By committing to building Canada’s first all-electric mine, Borden, which will be in production in 2019, Goldcorp gave MacLean certainty its machines would find a market. It also gave the company a deadline that drove it to develop its first battery powered machine in just one year. Turn to page 16 for the full story.
This issue is also our annual gold-themed issue. In mid-August at presstime, the gold price had broken below US$1,200 per oz. and seemed determined to stay there. The strong U.S. dollar has taken some of the shine off the yellow metal, which started out the year at over US$1,300 per oz. Given how much mining and exploration activity and market interest in our industry depends on the gold price, we’re hoping this isn’t a sustained trend.
As gold prices swoon, it’s more important than ever for gold miners to stay focused on costs.
Companies like Hecla Mining are doing the hard work of squeezing as much margin as possible out of every ounce of gold they produce. Hecla, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016, is a true believer in innovation as the way to increase productivity and safety at its mines. Its Casa Berardi mine in Quebec, which It acquired five years ago, is a perfect example. Turn to page 27 to read how a combination of new technology and exploration success have renewed the underground mine’s fortunes.
And for a look at some of tomorrow’s potential gold mines, we also bring you a look at seven promising gold exploration projects across Canada, on page 21.