OMA member profile: CAMIRO – research for mining’s future

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Ontario Mining Association member the Canadian Mining Industry Research Organization (CAMIRO) has been leading a scientific approach to improving sector workplaces for decades.  Sudbury-based CAMIRO, which officially started in 1996, has actually been operating since 1975 under various banners as an industry collaborative research broker. 

The industry-based, not-for-profit organization with a membership of mining companies and those with an interest in the mining sector has three divisions – exploration, mining and metallurgical processing.  CAMIRO strives to have multiple members sponsor specific research initiatives with the results broadly shared.  Many OMA members are involved in CAMIRO.  The collaborative nature of how CAMIRO operates facilitates government funding assistance without appearing to favour any specific company.

“We reach into the industry’s needs and figure out what we should be working on to benefit everyone,” said Charles Graham, Managing Director of CAMIRO’s Mining Division.  “CAMIRO carries out the administrative functions of research – we act as brokers to get funding before we spend it on research projects and we farm out specific aspects of the project to the most likely to succeed whether universities, independent researchers, mining companies or government.”

“Collaboration is our key word and we try to do things that companies will share,” added Mr. Graham.  “Health and safety and rock mechanics are areas in which companies are likely to cooperate on over the years – and this in some ways reflects the roots of mining research in Ontario.”  MRD Mining Research Directorate and a forerunner of CAMIRO resulted from recommendations in the Stevenson Commission, a landmark 1986 health and safety report.

The report of the provincial inquiry into ground control and emergency preparedness in Ontario mines called for the creation of a central body to coordinate research in these areas.  Major projects CAMIRO has completed would include the Design and Support for Underground Mines ($2.3 million over three years), Canadian Rockburst Research Program ($10 million over five years) and the Diesel Emissions Evaluation Program ($2.8 million over seven years).

One of CAMIRO’s current projects is the Deep Mining Research Consortium ($7.5 million plus $10 million in kind over seven to eight years).   As mines in Ontario and Canada go deeper, this initiative is examining technological solutions to barriers to mineral extraction 2,000 metres and deeper below surface.  Rock stress at depth, increased heat and humidity and logistics are some of the factors impacting humans in this workplace and the operation of equipment.  

“Deep mining brings us into contact with all sorts of other fields of endeavour,” said Mr. Graham.  “In order to tackle some of the issues such as the effects of working at depth on humans and clothing, we are working with experts in fields such as sports medicine, automotive, robotics, aero-space and construction.  It is fascinating the other areas of expertise you deal with when seeking solutions to mining issues of the future.”

“Over the years CAMIRO has made contributions to the industry and through its nuts and bolts approach made incremental improvements,” said Mr. Graham.  “CAMIRO has a history and track record of success and our vision has evolved into us looking at the smaller R and the bigger D in Research & Development. This lowers the risk involved in fundamental research and speeds application of results to specific problems.”

CAMIRO is an active and long serving member of the OMA.  This article is the eighth in a series of profiles of OMA member companies and their contributions to the vitality of Ontario’s society and economy.