UNDERGROUND EXPERTISE: “Boutique” mining company puts people first

ONTARIO - Technica Mining of Sudbury, ON, originated as an underground construction and maintenance contractor specializing in ore handling installation, repair and maintenance. In 2010 Technica had the opportunity to add underground mechanized...

ONTARIO - Technica Mining of Sudbury, ON, originated as an underground construction and maintenance contractor specializing in ore handling installation, repair and maintenance. In 2010 Technica had the opportunity to add underground mechanized development to its repertoire. To do so, it needed big equipment fast at a time when equipment manufacturers were still wary of ramping up production in the sluggish post-recession recovery. With support from Technica’s long time relationship with Atlas Copco, the company’s newest service offering was up and running in record time.

Diversity is opportunity

Founder and CEO Mario Grossi said Technica is about people first, pointing out that the expansion would help to ensure steady work for his employees. With the addition of mechanized development to Technica’s portfolio of expertise and service offering, Technica is now able to offer turnkey service solutions to their clients. 

Technica is a complete package for mines – a convenient contractor most knowledgeable of the drift they developed to the ore passes, bins, chutes, crushers, conveyors, loading pockets, shafts and headframes most common for underground production. For Technica, it’s a tag-team operation that helps it fulfill its promise of steady employment.

“I don't want to be the biggest; I want to be the best,” said Grossi. “And that comes from valuing friendship, family … core values. We’re after that boutique quality, the intimacy of a mom and pop operation, even with 240 people."            

Technica is currently busy at an underground nickel/copper mine in the Sudbury Basin, contracted to drive drifts 4.9-metres-high by 4.9-metres-wide, 4.2-metre advances per day in their assigned headings at depths of 1,585 metres. Technica’s development fleet includes many Atlas Copco products: three new Scooptrams (two ST8Bs and one ST8C), a Scooptram ST1510, three new Boomer 282 face drills, a remanufactured Boomer 322, and a Minetruck  MT436.

Relationship is key to success

As rising metal prices in 2010 created a mining surge, quality equipment and skilled labour were precious commodities. Mines having lain dormant more than 30 years were reopening, and new ventures were undertaken. Companies lined up for whatever equipment became available, while head-hunters relentlessly poached the best employees. Nevertheless, some of most valuable personnel in the industry joined Technica.

Grossi said he has been asked by other companies how Technica can attract and maintain such a quality workforce in these times without using some of the aggressive tactics of those other companies. He said he believes his company’s historical emphasis on people first is a fundamental principle some organizations may have forgotten. “Company leadership is about balancing safety, rules, relations, performance –- all of these are basically about people. Our managers,” he said, “stay in touch with the workforce and understand what motivates them.”

It’s Technica’s management team that’s the difference.  Francois Velleux, manager of operations, Tyler Nicholls, manager of finance and technical services, and Grossi himself at 40, 33 and 38 years old respectively, are naturally able to relate to their young workforce while mutually understanding the values of sustainability.

Nicholls explained how relationships are truly fundamental to life at Technica. “More and more of the available workforce are candidates under 30. We care about what’s important to them and want to help them  reach their career objectives.”

He said that focusing on each employee’s goals and professional development is ultimately good for everyone.

Grossi also speaks highly of Francois Veilleux, Technica’s manager of operations. “Frank is a tremendous asset. At only 40 years old, he has accumulated invaluable experience at such a proportionately young age and is able to pass on his expertise and knowhow to the rest of the Technica team.”

Efficiency with Atlas Copco

Relationship is also rooted in Technica’s choice of equipment manufacturers. Jim Haas, Atlas Copco service and sales manager for Canada’s central region, has known Grossi since before Grossi started Technica Mining. Haas and Grossi remember speaking of a day when Technica would be in a position to offer mechanized development as part of their portfolio of services and how Atlas Copco would be there to support them.  Today, that time has come, and Haas and Atlas Copco have delivered.

Nicholls shares his team’s appreciation of Atlas Copco’s customer service. “Our construction drill steel has always come from Atlas Copco. We wanted to ramp up to offer mechanized development within six weeks of our decision to do so. Atlas Copco came through for us.” Others, he explained, had equipment delivery lead times of up to 48 weeks for face drilling rigs, scoops or hauling trucks.

Technica’s preference for staying with Atlas Copco as its primary manufacturer creates an operation-wide uniformity, even down to outfitting Technica’s mechanized bolters with Atlas Copco rock drills.

“They are smaller versions of the drills on our new Atlas Copco jumbos. It keeps things the same for our  mechanics. The guys like them. I’m hearing from them that they are faster, better,” Nicholls said.

Technica’s faith in Atlas Copco’s service is evidenced by its integration of Atlas Copco products in all aspects of its mechanized development – from the brand new jumbos, scoops, trucks and drill steel, Technica can count on its relationship with the entire team at Atlas Copco.

Please contact Technica Mining at TechnicaGroup.com.


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