Block Cave Ops Benefit From Real-time Data

Proven monitoring systems help underground miners envision the previously unforeseeable, forge plans, streamline processes and cut costs

Technological advances are increasing the real-time data available to block cave operations. A system of magnetic beacons and readers first tested in 2007 and trialed in a diamond mine in 2014 have reportedly proven capable of tracking cave propagation and ore flow in real time. Separately, a system of RFID chips and readers that was upgraded in 2015 enables heightened draw control and material movement monitoring. Both are claimed to nix costs by enabling tight planning, controlling dilution and reducing operator error. And both are now being pitched as proven technology available today.

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Consolidation Continues; Output Rises

With last year’s wildfires overcome, Canada’s oil sands industry is continuing its growth trend, while foreign producers have second thoughts and product transport infrastructure remains on the critical path

In its last annual review of the Canadian oil sands industry (December 2016, pp.42-45), E&MJ described how the sector’s participants had been handling the raft of challenges — commercial, political and environmental — that had impacted them over the previous 18 months. “Progress is being maintained and, from a rather predatory perspective, there has been a new round of consolidation within the participants,” it said.

The principal beneficiary of that consolidation bout was unquestionably Suncor, which increased its holding in the Syncrude joint venture — and by default its attributable bitumen production — through its acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. and Murphy Oil’s stake in the joint venture.

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Sourcing Finances After the Super Cycle

A credit crunch and a mining bear market have created a new generation of investors — realists — making funding challenging for some

Bankrolling the next project is not what it used to be.

The global downturn that started with a housing market crash a decade ago and continues in Europe was termed a “credit crunch.” While the central bankers move to exit the strategies deployed to ease lending and increase money velocity, in some sectors money remains tight. Manipulating interest rates and monetizing bad bets only goes so far. Miners, suppliers and their financiers say that, since the downturn, investors with expectations shaped by the crunch, new conservative investment vehicles, and high technology have changed the task of sourcing funds. A couple of recent success stories illustrate this point.

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A New Approach to Truck-shovel Mining

Employing a Surge Feeder working in tandem with a Mobile Sizing Station, open-pit miners could soon realize the continuous mining benefits of in-pit crushing, while using the existing truck fleet for haulage

Professionals in mineral processing know the MMD name and associate it with the sizer technology it introduced almost 40 years ago. More recently, the company has been finding more uses for its large sizers in the pit. They have recently launched two new pieces of equipment that could revolutionize truck-shovel mining, the Mobile Sizing Station and the Surge Feeder.

About 12 years ago, MMD built an apron feeder for a Colombian coal operation that accepted loads directly from a dragline. It proved too robust enough to process the overburden and load the haul trucks. More recently, MMD installed a semimobile in-pit sizer and conveyor (IPSC) at a Chinese mine. Now they have combined the experience from both of those operations to build a system that lets the shovel dig continuously.

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