Ontario Mining Matters
Innovative Closure Labour Agreement at Golden Giant
It’s hard to believe, but the Hemlo gold camp in northern Ontario is starting to look to the closure of its mines. Battle Mountain Canada Ltd.’s Golden Giant mine is nearest to the end, with its ore forecast to be depleted by mid-2005.
With this in mind, the management and United Steelworkers local at Golden Giant sat down to negotiate a final contract last year that would benefit everyone. The innovative five-year deal that they reached, much longer than the industry standard, will ensure employment for the workforce and payroll stability for the owner until the mine closes. The employees will have the time to upgrade skills, and decide what they want to do when the end comes. As well, the nearby towns of Manitouwadge and Marathon can prepare for the day when the Golden Giant and subsequently the Williams and David Bell mines are all closed. The three mines now employ over 1,000 people.
World’s First Computer-Controlled Mining Blast
Inco Ltd.’s experimental mine near Sudbury, Ont. was the site of the world’s first underground explosion set off via a computer stationed on the surface, in late October. The blast shattered 250 tons of rock underground at the 175 orebody, capping a five-year, $28-million international research and development program known as the Mining Automation Program (MAP). MAP is a consortium of leading edge technology equipment and explosive organizations formed in 1996 that includes Inco, Dyno Nobel, Sandvik Tamrock, and Canmet.
“Computer-controlled blasting is a key element for MAP in creating a fully tele-operated mine that includes mine development, drilling, explosives loading and ore hauling,” said Greg Baiden, manager of Inco’s Mines Research. “We’ve definitively shown that mining automation or telemining has the potential to dramatically improve the safety and economic performance of mining underground orebodies… Telemining could allow operations that would not have been economically feasible to stay operational.”
Inco has successfully brought tele-operated drilling and ore hauling into production at three of its Sudbury area mines. Miners run the equipment from a control room in an office building several kilometres from the mines.