Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Laurel Myers’ article. www.northernlife.ca (Originally published on September 16, 2008)
Mining isn’t what it used to be. Ninety-two-year-old Harvey Jarrett was part of the mining evolution. In 1945, he developed the first and only underground sand-fill plant at the time.
Dave Duncan, present superintendent of Garson Mine, explained a sand-fill plant is actually located only 90 feet below the surface, and is still in use today.
“We take in aggregate material (sand) from the pit across the road,” Duncan said. “There is cement silo on surface where we mix the sand with cement and water, then it flows down a funnel into a pipe a fills our stopes.”
Stopes are filled when they can no longer be mined, and are used as support to drill other stopes. After being a pilot in the war for three years, Jarrett returned to the Sudbury area and began work at the Creighton Mine as a mining engineer. He later moved to the Garson and Frood Mines.
“I did all the layouts,” he said. “This place (Garson) is unique. Garson was having a cave-in and it was very serious. “It was going to break through under the lake, and that would have been the end of the mine,” he continued. The supervisor at the time was trying to figure out how to save the place, Jarrett explained. “I happened to be standing there. I put my underground clothes on and just started looking around to find where I could find some fill. There was a sand plant nearby.”
The Queen’s University grad worked all night long designing the layout for an underground sand-fill plant. “We had material sent in from all over the company property,” he said, adding he knew where it all was after taking a tour of the grounds.
“This was a brand new idea,” he said. Other sand-fill plants being used at the time took about two years to complete, the engineer said. However, he told his management he would have this plant ready in a week. They laughed at him.
“They said, ‘you’re going to build a sand-fill plant underground? It will take two years and the mine will be gone,’” Jarrett remembered.
“I designed a quick plant that was entirely different, and I knew where the equipment was,” he said. “Every man was taken off mining to help develop this scheme.
“It was just unthinkable that it could be done. Because when you put everybody on it, we got it done in seven days.” That was seven days without sleep on Jarrett’s part, but he said his drive paid off.
“I got three wage increases for that,” he said with a smile. Although his underground sand-fill plant saved the mine, it is not a practice still in use today.
Thinking back to his days of mining, Jarrett said he never viewed it as a scary job, although he admitted there were plenty of close calls.
“Mining has entirely changed,” he said. “It went through quite a number of changes in my time and it’s still changing.”