Generations Of Miners Face The Future Of Automation Deep Underground – by Mary Katherine Keown (HuffPost Canada/Thet – November 13, 2018)

A proud third-generation miner, Mickey O’Brien enjoys the every day grind of taking that deep dive to the centre of the earth. A miner at Vale’s Copper Cliff Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, O’Brien works 10-hour shifts. After suiting up and assembling, he and his coworkers break into a number of crews to start the new and soiled process of gnawing away on the earth greater than 1.5 km underground.

“I am on haulage,” O’Brien says. “Proper now I am driving a grader, however I am being skilled on a picker, so if we’ve massive chunks after a blast, the news will put them apart and I drill holes in them and I blow them up, and the news will come and decide them up. Cool, eh?”

A proud labour rights activist, he considers a lot of his colleagues — most of whom are members of Steelworkers Native 6500 — to be brothers and sisters. “I have been engaged on Inco property since I used to be 18 and I am 38 now,” he says, referencing the title of his firm earlier than it was purchased out by Vale in 2006.

The world of underground excavation is expansive. O’Brien says there’s a veritable metropolis connecting the previous north and south mines. “I’d like to know precisely what number of kilometres of drift are pushed beneath Copper Cliff,” he says.

Whereas Vale employs about 4,000 individuals all through its Ontario operations, greater than 13,000 Sudburians work within the mining provide sector, and throughout Canada, greater than 210,000 individuals work in mining.

The mines in Sudbury are getting more and more deep. Earlier this 12 months one other firm, Glencore, introduced it was spending almost $1 billion to mine new ore 2.5 km underground. Vale can be increasing operations at its Copper Cliff Mine with the brand new multi-million greenback Copper Cliff Deep mission. As mines get deeper, it turns into extra pricey to extract the ore and automation turns into more and more necessary to underground operations.

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