A former Flin Flon couple is literally breaking new ground with an invention that is keeping safe miners who are cleaning and loading blast holes in a mine’s rock face. Nine years after establishing their Sudbury, ON-based consulting firm, Rod and Clara Steele received a call from a manager at the nearby Vale Canada’s Coleman nickel mine.
An employee at that site had been killed by a 14-tonne slip of rock that had fallen on him at the mine face, more than 4,200 feet underground. The manager had promised the dead man’s daughter he would do whatever he could to ensure a similar accident would not happen again.
Before then, TesMan was consulting with mines in the design and development of technologies to improve underground mining practices. The company’s team of mining, mechanical and electrical engineers had devised software and equipment to improve industrial safety and productivity.
Rod is a mining engineer who was educated at England’s Leeds University and previously worked in South Africa, Australia, United States and throughout Canada, including with Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company in Flin Flon, now known as Hudbay.
Management at the Coleman Mine approached Rod to develop an alternative method for miners to clean and load blast holes at the mine face.
After failing to find a technology that could accomplish the job, Rod and his team determined that the solution was to automate the operation from a distance. This meant developing a new system.
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