Canada’s mining sector, one of the country’s oldest industries, is emerging as one of the brightest growth spots in the nation’s zero-emissions future, having developed a cluster of mines and mining expertise that is now leading the world in underground electrification.
While the mines themselves are mostly owned by global majors — principally Glencore, Vale and Newmont — every piece of the Canadian mining value chain, from manufacturers and engineers to miners and energy producers, is playing a key role. In an industry valued at $105 billion annually, responsible for 620,000 jobs, according to the Mining Association of Canada, that’s welcome news.
It means Canada is well positioned at a time when digging deep around the world is only getting trickier and many experts say the way forward is with battery electric machinery.
“Canada is leading the way in electrification and deep mines have got no choice,” says Stuart Lister, vice-president of marketing and communications at MacLean Engineering, an underground equipment maker based in Collingwood, Ont. “If [mining companies] want to access this ore thousands of feet down they have to go with an electric fleet.”
Thousands of metres below ground, things start to get complicated: temperatures soar to between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius, there are enormous distances to move goods, machinery and people in tight spaces, and air quality becomes a matter of life and death.
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