Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine automates to keep miners from heading underground – by Jeff Walters (CBC News Thunder Bay – November 23, 2018)

In a nondescript office building in the middle of Thunder Bay, Ont., four workers get ready to move thousands of tonnes of rock, hundreds of kilometres away.

Musselwhite Mine, about 500 km north of the building, is where the rock breakers, loaders, conveyor belts and soon, trucks operate, although those behind the controls sit in an air-conditioned office.

The mine, owned and operated by Goldcorp, is a fly-in operation, north of the city. The mine has been working on automating some of its processes, keeping workers away from the mine site, closer to home in Thunder Bay.

“We’ve physically removed the worker from the mine site and allowed them to run the system remotely,” said Kevin Schiiler, the automation coordinator for Goldcorp Musselwhite Mine. “What that does for us is ensure safety of our personnel, and also helps to increase our efficiency gains through longer operating times, due to not have to be working in the mine.”

Schiller said workers before would have to be out of the underground workings during blasts, but remotely controlled machines can keep moving for the entire shift. He said the mine ramp itself is nearly 15 km long, with workers travelling for up to 1.5 hours to get from where they start their shift, to where their equipment is sitting. Including a blast time, a 12 hour shift may see an operator in the cab of a vehicle for only 7 hours.

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