Glencore Sudbury INO eyeing mechanization for loading, wiring explosives underground
Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (SINO) has extracted just about everything there is to mine at its Sudbury properties, and so to have a future presence in the city, the company knows it’ll have to mine deeper.
At its Onaping Depth project, north of Sudbury, plans are in the works to get down to 2,700 metres, from about 1,200 metres at the existing Craig Mine, where a new orebody awaits. But the big question remains: how do they do that while navigating the safety challenges posed by ultra-deep mining?
“It’s pretty clear to us that the seismicity that we’ll encounter down there will be a big step change from where we are,” said Michael MacFarlane, Glencore SINO’s innovation consultant, during the April 14 2021 Virtual Mining Health and Safety Conference hosted by Workplace Safety North.
“That’s what has really been the driving force for this safe deep development project.” The steps in a mine development cycle, as they’re performed today, still require workers to be at the face, he noted, yet that remains one of the most dangerous areas of the mine.
Instead of just figuring out how to protect workers at the face, Glencore wants to go one step further and move the workers away from the hazard, MacFarlane said.