Companies position themselves to produce more gold, PGMs and battery minerals

By Kevin Palmer and Steve Fiscor

Ontario is Canada’s largest producer of gold, platinum group metals (PGMs) and nickel, and a significant copper and salt producer. The province is also gearing up to supply battery minerals and other minerals needed for the renewable energy sector. More than 40 mine sites in Ontario extract roughly $8.5 billion in minerals, or nearly 25% of Canada’s annual mineral production.

Drawing much of its power from renewable hydroelectric plants, the mines in the region have a low-carbon advantage over other mining regions. Ontario has a rich mining culture that includes the nickel mines in Sudbury, gold mines in Red Lake, Kirkland Lake and Timmins, and polymetallic deposits near Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior. There are a lot of plans on the table for future development, especially to the north. With the uptick in metal prices and metal demand, the mines already find themselves competing for manpower.

Ontario’s miners have led the way with technology development over the years. They advanced remote and autonomous mining techniques. Today, many of the underground mines are embracing a transition to battery-electric vehicles. What follows is a compilation of news reports and discussions with various leaders involved in mining in Ontario.

Alamos Gold Invests for Long Term

Alamos Gold has become a mining leader in Ontario over the past few years. The company’s Island Gold operation has been evolving very rapidly since it was acquired at the end of 2017 when it was a small deposit with 1.1 million ounces (oz) of resources and about 700,000 oz in reserves. By the time Alamos took it on in 2017, the previous owner, Richmont Mines, had already extracted the previous year’s reserves.

The Alamos team ramped up exploration dramatically at the Island Gold project. During the past 3 years, they have managed to increase the mineralized envelope to about 3.7 million oz.

Over the past year, due to exploration logistics difficulties, progress was a little more difficult, with about half the intended exploration being successfully carried out, or about $11 million in exploration activity. Incidentally, at that mine over the years, there has been more than 7,000 holes drilled and this past years’ drilling results are representative of some of the best holes ever drilled in this mine. That said, in 2021, the exploration teams at Alamos found some of the highest grades and best holes ever drilled in Ontario.

Alamos Gold President and CEO John A. McCluskey described the Island Gold exploration activities. “The beginning of the trend indicated that as we went deeper in the deposit — we’d get better grades and better widths. In the new zone in 2020, we had 750,000 oz grading at 18 g/mt — based on our inferred resource — the grade of that ore body is about 9.7 oz/ton. Based on the data, our technical group essentially made an educated guess that this ore body was going to get progressively better with depth. I’d say that we’re very pleased with these results.”

Historically, Island Gold processed roughly 400 mt/d with an average grade of 5 g/mt. By the time the Alamos team arrived, Richmont had increased mill throughput to 900 mt/d with a head grade of 9 g/mt. Today the mill is processing 1,200 mt/d at an average grade of about 12 g/mt. The orebody appears to be getting better as they dig progressively deeper.

The outlook for the Island Gold property is very interesting. Their reserves are higher. The resource is kicking out more volume than ever at a substantially higher grade. They are certainly investing more with their latest phase 3 study calling for another shaft to gain access to the mineralization at 1,500 m. And, it appears that a mill expansion is now calling for an increase in processing capacity in the near future.

According to McCluskey, one of the keys for Alamos is their people. They’ve managed to attract and retain significant talent in their workforce — as McCluskey said, “It’s a mix of talented people, including a considerable number of miners coming from Quebec, southern Ontario as well as the local mining communities adjacent to our mine. We’re in a good phase in mining in Ontario now. The price of gold is up, and there is big demand for miners — all the signs are pointing toward more growth in mining in Ontario.”

McCluskey considers a prominent factor in their success is building mines that meet the very high standards that the First Nations, Canada, and the company’s investors expect, which includes  environmental, safety, workforce lifestyle and fair compensation considerations.

McCluskey said to get to the top of that pyramid, “you can’t have a short-term outlook. We’re now looking at a 15- to 20-year outlook. This is sustainable for all kinds of areas.”

The Island Gold mine will be building a shaft system and switching to battery-electric equipment, which will improve air quality, reduce ventilation costs and also reduce the mine’s carbon footprint by more than 35%.

Alamos is bringing Island Gold into the future: with a greener, longer mine life — and where new employees can look ahead to 20 years of employment. In the past, Island Gold offered a shorter lifespan for workers but that’s changed now. McCluskey hopes these positive changes will encourage more people to move into the Wawa/Dubreuiville area on a permanent basis in the near future.

“We envision a much better lifestyle for our workers — we’re designing a beautiful mine to work at, you’ll have a job there and realize that this job will be there for you for decades,” McCluskey said. “The Island Gold mine has never been in this position. Bay Street couldn’t realize what our vision was for this mine and I think we’ve really come along from where we were just a few years ago.”

And the improvements don’t stop with productivity enhancements — the Island Gold mine has done some wonderful things related to environmental initiatives. The tailings storage facility (TSF) has been completely revamped. The company invested heavily in it. They know where every ton of material will be placed in the TSF. A new backfill plant will store tailings underground and increase stability for the mine — improving safety of the stopes in an environmentally professional and responsible manner.

The improvements in Ontario don’t end with the Island Gold mine as far as McCluskey is concerned, he’s certainly very proud of Alamos Gold’s other northern Ontario operation, the Young Davidson mine.

“At our Young Davidson operation, between 2016 and 2020, we completed all new underground infrastructure,” McCluskey said. “The concept was to build temporary infrastructure to develop cashflow to continue exploration activities. We determined that putting in permanent infrastructure at depth would be a better investment for the long term. Now, once materials are taken up at the face, it goes right into the ore pass and it’s gravity fed right to the crusher. From there, a conveyor transports it 1 km to the ore bins. The bins feed the ore to the skip and its’ not touched twice between the face and the mill. It’s a highly efficient and a beautiful operation. The way it’s monitored is fantastic. We’ll do something similar at Island Gold eventually. Young Davidson is much larger at 8,000 mt/d of ore and 2,000 mt/d of waste. That makes it one of the biggest underground mines in Canada. The stopes at Young Davidson are just massive.”

Alamos Gold’s approach to the recent COVID-19 reveals an interesting way of maintaining operations during the pandemic. “COVID-19 has been a challenge for the mining industry,” McCluskey said. “We were very fortunate that the Algoma/Temiskaming didn’t see much COVID-19, especially the first 15 months up until Omicron. We may have seen 15 to 20 cases max, but everything has changed with Omicron, it spreads more rapidly, but because most are vaccinated by now, the impact is very low. We’re seeing more flu-like symptoms vs the original COVID-19-type infection.”

During the early stages of the pandemic, Alamos hired Dr. Eric Hoskins, formerly health minister for Ontario, who had experience with the SARS scare. He encouraged Alamos to buy PCR testing equipment long before it was available to most in the province. Alamos was one of the first companies implementing COVID-19 testing — even before the equipment was available from Health Canada. “We were running PCR tests prior to them becoming mainstream,” McCluskey said. “Testing was mandatory at our facilities, which wasn’t normally practiced in Ontario. We were doing that. We were ahead of the curve on this — no one told us to do it, we just did it. We got ahold of the equipment early. With Dr. Hoskins help, we dodged a bullet by giving us insight to take action early.”

With great competition for miners all across the world, McCluskey feels that one needs to have a great mine. “We have better facilities, great food and a nice mine. We’re investing heavily in the mine to make sure our employees feel at home while they are here,” McCluskey said. “By the time a miner has been around for five or 10 years, he knows exactly what he’s looking for: comfort, food, better working conditions — he’ll want to stay… And, we’ll retain better people for longer periods of time.”

You can find McCluskey online quite often with the Alamos “Home Safe Every Day” series of interviews with mine personnel on YouTube. “We’ve been promoting this everywhere, and I think it resounds with our people,” McCluskey said. “The importance of having a quality place to work, which is safe, comfortable and sustainable over the long haul.”

Clean Air Metals Publishes PEA

Clean Air Metals began trading in 2020 around the consolidation of two mid-continent rift-related, platinum-palladium-copper-nickel magma conduit deposits in the Thunder Bay, Ontario area. The conduits host two deposits making up the Thunder Bay North Project, the Escape Deposit (acquired from Rio Tinto) and the Current Deposit (initially drilled by Magma Metals) acquired from Panoramic Resources.

Led by Executive Chairman James Gallagher, mining engineer and past CEO of North American Palladium, now Impala Canada, Clean Air Metals recently published a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA, January 12, 2022). The PEA shows an economic base case with a mine life of at least 10 years in the Superior Basin mining camp. Gallagher added, “The initial PEA for the Thunder Bay North Project brings together two previously independent deposits into one mining plan which is relatively low risk, low capital, quick to production, and generates robust financial metrics. Given
the significant potential upside with continued exploration drilling along the known conduits and with the already identified massive sulphide targets, we believe that this PEA is a minimum base case that Clean Air Metals will continue to attempt to derisk toward prefeasibility.”

The Clean Air Management Team is using the Norilsk (Talnakh) mineral deposits in Russia as a model to guide exploration at the Thunder Bay North Project (similar structure and stratigraphy in rift-related mineralization with platinum and palladium in a 1:1 ratio with copper and nickel at a 2:1 ratio). Norilsk has a 100-year mining history and is well understood while the Thunder Bay North Project has a 12-year exploration history. The two systems compare well around structure (similarities between the deep crustal Talnakh Fault and the Escape Lake Fault) and stratigraphy (magma conduits are strikingly similar in morphology). A major difference, however, is the presence of economic concentrations of massive sulphides in 20-plus deposits developed to date at Talnakh.

The Clean Air Metal project at Thunder Bay North also has indications of massive sulphides within its drill core. Grades and textures from this intercept in the Escape deposit closely mimic run of mine grade at Norilsk. The exploration team at Clean Air Metals continues to pursue such intercepts as possible vectors to the exploration potential for identification of larger concentrations of massive sulphides at Thunder Bay North. The base of the conduits along the Escape Lake Fault known as the “Feeder Zone” areas is an obvious target for additional exploration by the team. Geophysical studies using the magnetotelluric (MT) sys-
tem and ultra-low temperature SQUID large-loop pulse EM system shows several ultra-low resistivity/high-conductivity anomalies in the feeder zones to be drilled in 2022.

With its recent PEA results, Clean Air Metals is potentially on a path to become part of the global clean energy metal supply chain. Scalable technology around hydrogen fuel cells using platinum-based fuel cell membranes will be an increasing part of a clean energy transportation going forward. This zero-carbon clean energy solution has the potential to impact passenger and heavy haulage vehicle development — such as mine trucks, transport trucks, trains, planes and automobiles.

A worldwide zero-carbon solution may indeed drive the path to success for companies like Clean Air Metals in the very near future.

Generation Takes Ownership of Marathon

Generation Mining Ltd. completed the acquisition of the remaining 16.5% interest in the Marathon palladium-copper project in northwestern Ontario from Stillwater Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. during late January. The company now holds 100% of the Marathon Project and the joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater has been terminated in accordance with its terms.

“In addition to now holding a 100% ownership interest in the Marathon Project, the completion of the transaction also allows us to proceed with a streaming transaction with Wheaton Precious Metals and we expect it to be beneficial in negotiating with other lenders to finance construction of the Marathon Project,” Gen Mining President and CEO Jamie Levy said.

At the end of last year, Gen Mining entered a precious metal purchase agreement (PMPA) with Wheaton Precious Metals Corp., which was subject to the closing of Gen Mining’s acquisition of the remaining 16.5% interest in the Marathon Project from Sibanye Stillwater, which still holds a stake in Generation Mining.

Pursuant to the PMPA, Wheaton will pay Gen Mining a total upfront cash consideration of C$240 million, C$40 million of which will be paid on an early deposit basis prior to construction to be used for development of the Marathon Project, with the remainder payable in four staged installments during construction, subject to various customary conditions being satisfied.

“This stream represents a key cornerstone financing commitment for the ultimate project financing package,” Levy said. “Working closely with our financial advisors, Endeavour Financial, we will now focus on sourcing the remaining key financial components of the project financing including project debt, offtake agreements and equipment financing.”

Under the Marathon PMPA, Wheaton will purchase 100% of the payable gold production until 150,000 ounces (oz) have been delivered, thereafter dropping to 67% of payable gold production for the life of the mine; and 22% of the payable platinum production until 120,000 oz have been delivered, thereafter dropping to 15% for the life of mine.

Wheaton will make ongoing payments for the gold and platinum ounces delivered equal to 18% of the spot prices until the value of gold and platinum delivered less the production payment is equal to the upfront consideration of C$240 million, at which point the production payment will increase to 22% of the spot prices.

Gen Mining and its subsidiary Generation PGM, which is the owner of the Marathon Project, will provide Wheaton with corporate guarantees and other security over their assets. The first advance of the early deposit under the Marathon PMPA is expected to occur early in 2022.

“Wheaton is proud to support Gen Mining in the responsible development of the Marathon Project, recently projected to have one of the lowest operational carbon footprints of any mine in the world, once producing,” Wheaton President and CEO Randy Smallwood said. “While Wheaton will be streaming the byproduct platinum and gold from the mine, the primary metals the Marathon project is forecast to produce are palladium and copper, which are crucial for the global transition to a low-carbon economy.”

As detailed in the Marathon feasibility study released on March 4, 2021, over a 13-year mine life the Marathon project is estimated to produce 1,905,000 oz of palladium, 467 million lb of copper, 537,000 oz of platinum, 151,000 oz of gold and 2,823,000 oz of silver.

AEM, Kirkland Lake Gain Approval for Merger

Two mining heavyweights in Ontario announce a merger last year. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM) and Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. have now received approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) regarding the proposed merger of equals between the companies. This approval is the final key regulatory approval needed to close the merger.

Mining activities abound along the north shore of Lake Superior. (Source: Generation Mining)

In September, AEM entered into an all-stock agreement to acquire Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. in a “merger of equals,” which would retain the AEM name and be headquartered at AEM’s existing head office. KLG shareholders will receive 0.7935 of an AEM common share for each KLG share. The consideration implies a combined market capitalization of approximately $24 billion. Upon closing, existing AEM and KLG shareholders will own approximately 54% and 46% of the combined company, respectively.

The acquisition would increase AEM’s gold production from 1.7 million ounces per year (oz/y) to 3.4 million oz/y, making it the No. 3 gold producer behind Newmont and Barrick Gold. Upon closing, AEM is expected to
have $2.3 billion of available liquidity, a mineral reserve base of 48 million ounces of gold, (969 million metric tons (mt) at 1.53 g/mt), and an extensive pipeline of development and exploration projects.

Agnico Eagle is a senior Canadian gold mining company, producing precious metals from operations in Canada, Finland and Mexico. It has a pipeline of high-quality exploration and development projects in these countries as well as in the United States and Colombia. Kirkland Lake Gold is a low-cost senior gold producer operating in Canada and Australia. The production profile of Kirkland Lake Gold is anchored by three high-quality operations, including the Macassa mine and Detour Lake mine, both located in northern Ontario, and the Fosterville mine located in the state of Victoria, Australia.

The combined company will be led by Sean Boyd, as Executive Chair, Anthony Makuch, as Chief Executive Officer and Ammar Al-Joundi, as President.

PureGold Makes Adjustments

PureGold Mining began construction on the former Madsen gold mine (now known as the PureGold mine) in the Red Lake district of northwest Ontario in early August 2019 and poured first gold by the end of 2020. During August 2021, the company achieved commercial production with a nameplate capacity of 800 metric tons per day (mt/d).

During Q3 2021, the mine averaged 685 mt/d and, with an average grade of 4.8 g/mt, it produced 9,260 oz. Production hit a low point in October, however, with an average of 387 mt/d with a grade of 3.7 g/mt for 1,347 oz of gold.

The board stepped in and effected a management shakeup. Maryse Bélanger, a director, was appointed the mine’s general manager. She is a widely respected senior mining executive. In November, Troy Fierro replaced Pure-Gold President and CEO Darin Labrenz and Chris Haubrich, vice president-business development and now CFO, replaced CFO Sean Teztlaff.

Bélanger implemented several operational improvement initiatives, which are expected to have a positive impact on both short- and long-term operational performance. “Today, we have a fully built mine site with an 800-mt/d mill currently achieving +95% recoveries, which can operate at 125% of nameplate capacity,” Bélanger said. “Despite that success, much work remains to unlock the mine’s full potential.”

An LHD loads a truck at the PureGold mine.

The PureGold mine has already started to show signs of improvement. It produced a monthly record of 3,905 oz
from an average production of 662 mt/d of ore grading 6.1 g/mt. The company recently released its outlook for Q1 2022, which is an average of 600-700 mt/d of 5-7 g/mt ore and production rate of 3,500-4,500 oz/month.

“What’s really exciting is that grade will continue to improve with depth,” Haubrich said. “Our mine has never been properly drilled below 1,200 m — by the end of this year, we may have opportunity to begin that process. If all goes well, we’ll start to target those deeper zones by the end of year and in the years going forward. We’ll be drilling our way down and making money all the way, just like Rob McEwen’s plan years ago at Goldcorp.”

“Another goal for the new team is to create better positive cashflow at the mine,” Haubrich said. “With inflation, costs will likely escalate.”

As far as mining personnel, Red Lake has a group talented miners, but they do have to attract people from across Ontario and Manitoba. All of the activity in the Red Lake District has created a housing shortage. To combat this, Pure Gold is building a 100-person camp onsite to make sure that they are able to get the right people on site at the right time.

An operator checks the battery health screen. (James Hodgins, Mining Industrial Photographer)

MacLean Advances BEV Technology

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Some Ontario-based suppliers that service the mines locally are also exporting considerable technology to mines worldwide. A prime example would be MacLean Engineering, a traditional Canadian equipment supplier that is now incorporating battery-electric equipment (EVs) into its product line and will soon offer telemetry for its equipment.

“MacLean Engineering exports technology all over the world, but almost all of it started in Ontario,” said Maarten van Koppen, vice president-product management for MacLean Engineering. “The desire to integrate EVs into its product line really kick-started a new wave of technology development within MacLean Engineering. The company’s first EV bolter, which went through testing in 2015-2016, was eventually placed at the Musselwhite mine in northwestern Ontario. From there, the activity grew to include the Borden mine before spreading to the Sudbury Basin. At the same time, EV interest piqued at the Macassa mine in Kirkland Lake.” During that time, the mines in northeastern Ontario became a hot-bed of activity for EVs and it still is.

Working in MacLean’s Timmins, Ontario office, van Koppen uses the electrification experience he gained working underground to help the company further develop its product line. “We’re doing some really exciting things with EVs, automation and telemetry, not to mention our recent accomplishments in interoperability at Cadia,” van Koppen said. “We’re rolling out a new grader later this year. What we are doing in our home province is really a mining technology launch pad for the world.” Beyond Canada, MacLean currently has EVs working underground in the U.S. The company is delivering machines to South Africa and Australia, and they plan to place a few in Chile later this year.

A lot of the initial efforts in technology development were devoted to electrifying the equipment, carefully selecting all the components and forming relationships with reputable suppliers, van Koppen explained. “When it comes to components on a machine, you tend to limit your options once you commit to a supplier, so you want to choose reputable ones that have a product development roadmap that will make it easier to continuously improve product performance,” van Koppen said. “Our telemetry system developed alongside the EV evolution. It’s a critical safety feature that monitors the state of the battery. It tracks other performance metrics as well and its use quickly grew to include our diesel machines too.”

On the automation side, MacLean acquired a company in 2018 that allowed it to make its own remotes. Then they got their big break at Newcrest’s Cadia block-cave mine in eastern Australia with the secondary ore reduction program, which would allow the mine to free blockages in ore passes by remote in conjunction with operating equipment from another OEM. “All of that technology was developed in Ontario in cooperation with Epiroc during the pandemic,” van Koppen said. “Our team in Sudbury was working with Epiroc’s team in Sweden and supported by local technicians in Australia to commission it remotely. We had to be a bit more creative. Having the test mine in Sudbury really paid off, especially when it came to working with remotes and autonomous tramming.”

Cadia had committed to operating a fleet of Epiroc loaders and they wanted to have a remote operator or a partially automated setup to maximize productivity, van Koppen explained. “Every time there was a hang-up in the ore pass, which tends to happen in block caves, they would have to shut down the entire production drive,” van Koppen said. “Our remote drills and water cannons would be used to bring it down safely and, once it was down, operations could resume.

“They challenged Epiroc to work with another company collaboratively to develop a solution and we were very fortunate that we were selected as a partner,” van Koppen said. “We developed our own tele-op systems that would interface with Epiroc equipment on the emergency stop, the safety barrier system and the traffic management system. The last thing miners need are 15 different laser barriers and emergency stop buttons for each make of machine. It was really important that our architecture was able to talk to Epiroc’s architecture. If an emergency stop button on an Epiroc teleremote station was pushed, our equipment would stop and vice versa. We worked with Epiroc to bring that online successfully. Given the pandemic, the teams all performed very well. 

By and large, the EVs have been performing as expected, van Koppen said. “Any time you introduce a new product, there are setbacks,” he said. “For example, the original onboard chargers were less than ideal so we swapped those with new ones that were more robust and could manage the swings in power quality at the mine.” MacLean is now using battery systems provided by Xalt Energy.

There are three factors that impact recharging times, the chargers, battery capacities, and how fast the battery will allow itself to be recharged, van Koppen explained. “Knowing these three parameters, we can work with customers to see what makes the most sense for their operation,” van Koppen said.

MacLean offers a standard 50-kW on-board charging solution with an option to upgrade to 100 kW. MacLean also recently introduced the CCS2 receptacle to accept more powerful off-board chargers. CCS2 offers an EV plug and communication protocol found on highway charge poles in North America and Europe. “We feel that will be the standard for a lot of underground mines moving forward,” van Koppen said. “Epiroc for example offers CCS2 charging with their offboard chargers. It’s more than just the plug itself, it’s also the communication between the vehicle and the charger. We can accept charges up to 250 kW through that option. The charge rates ranges from 50-250 kW, so the time it takes to charge on a standard battery ranges from roughly 90 minutes on the low end to 18 to 20 minutes on the high end.”

The MacLean telemetry system has been operational since the introduction of the first MacLean BEV machine, and provides useful data from the machine for safety, maintenance and production. “We monitor a lot of things on our machines and we are looking to introduce a customer-facing portal during the first half of this year with all sort of diagnostics,” van Koppen said. “We can also work with customers as far as integrating data into their systems rather than using a customer portal.”

Depending on the machine, MacLean systems monitor and report 400 to 500 parameters. “Not all of those parameters are that interesting to most mining companies, but we can certainly see what makes the most sense for the customer,” van Koppen said. “Useful information for the maintenance department might include operating hours and temperatures. For production, it could report the number of bolts installed, how much time was spent tramming the machine, utilization rates, excessive speeds, etc.”

MacLean recently built its first grader for underground use. “We have another three in the queue,” van Koppen said. “The first was a diesel, but we have an EV in the queue. With any operation, a smooth ramp is more efficient and cost effective.”

The company introduced the ss5 shotcrete sprayer last year. “We have proprietary technology on that machine that will allow significant accelerant savings. If a sprayer shoots roughly 50 cubic meters per day, we could be looking at approximately $500,000/year in accelerant savings alone.

“We are also working on a new explosives charger,” van Koppen said. “That’s in design right now. It will be introduced toward the end of this year. It will be an interesting, modern unit that will remotely load faces once we have a blast initiation system that we can work with. Most of the wireless products on the market right now are cost prohibitive. When a product costs eight to 10 times more than a traditional product, that’s a big leap to overcome. We do foresee and hope that the price gap will be closed, so we are gearing ourselves up to have an intelligent explosives charger ready to load from the cab and eventually load remotely when those explosives products are available.”

Supplying More Sustainable Shotcrete

Sika operates two shotcrete production plants in Ontario and Quebec, supplying many of the underground mines throughout eastern Canada. For much of Canada, the company produces a range of specialized, pre-bagged, dry shotcrete products, some of which can be used for wet applications as well.

Pre-bagged shotcrete has become quite popular for remote sites in northern Quebec and for the mines in the Arctic territories of Yukon and Nunavut. The product can be easily moved underground using trucks or shaft haulage. It can be applied wet or dry. No additional accelerators are required. They are blended into the mix. For wet applications, miners mix it on-site with agitated trucks and spray it wet.

The company has made considerable investments in material handling operations and logistics. “We only see the demand for shotcrete increasing in Canada and around the world,” said Scott Rand, executive vice president of North America for Sika’s Shotcrete, Tunneling and Mining Group (STM Group). “We are prepared for a considerable expected ramp-up in mining activity in North America. 

Sika has been looking at ways to improve its product. “There’s always an interest to reduce dust and we have some really exciting things happening in this area,” Rand said. “We are also looking at ways to reduce the carbon footprint for shotcrete. If we can reduce or eliminate 1 ton of cement consumption for the mine site that would make a huge difference for them. We are also getting much more involved with mining backfill, including paste backfill, hydraulic fill and cemented rock fill.”

As far as supply line disruptions, Sika has had very few. Rand attributes logistical success to Sika’s global procurement team. “Additives and admixture are often making a big difference for the mines,” Rand said. “Often, those are not domestic products, and they come with foreign exchange and supply chain challenges, which a global company like Sika manages well.”