Archive | Mining Supply and Services Sector

The Beauty of Mining Machines – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Mining is a rough industry and nowhere is it as challenging as Northern Ontario’s deep, hardrock operations. The mines are hot, dirty and wet. The air has to be pumped in, as if miners were working on another planet. At the bottom of the deepest mines, the rock creeps like toffee under pressure. It can shatter like glass, killing and trapping miners.

In this harsh world, equipment must do miracles. Ventilation systems move minus -40° air to a depth of 2,493 m. Hoist cables lift 4,000 tons per day. There is no room for mistakes. Yet these may be the safest mines in the world.

No wonder Sudbury is the training ground for so many mining experts and the testing ground for some of the toughest machines. The knowledge accumulated by the people of the Sudbury Basin is a treasure. It will grow in value as the mining industry battles to keep up with demand over the next century.

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CEMI: The High Cost of Split Jurisdictions – By Michael Atkins

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Michael Atkin’s column. www.northernlife.ca

Michael Atkins

If you have even a passing interest in the politics of northern Ontario, and Sudbury in particular, you will take note of last week’s refusal by FedNor to support the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) at Laurentian University and weep.

The message came from a PR flake in Toronto or Ottawa (it doesn’t really matter where) who was kind enough to point out that it “would not serve to maximize FedNor’s priorities of promoting growth, economic diversification, job creating and sustainable, self-reliant communities in northern Ontario.

Of course, and the tooth fairy henceforth is declining visits to our children on the grounds it no longer fits her mandate.

You will note this piffle did not come from the Sudbury office. It didn’t come from the Sudbury office because the Sudbury office was involved in helping to imagine this project from the beginning and has supported it strongly.

In fact this decision has nothing to do with the merits of the project, pro or con.

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Sudbury-North Bay Mining Supply Corridor Growing – Dick DeStefano

The Sudbury Mining Supply Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dick DeStefano’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dick DeStefano

What do the City of Greater Sudbury and North Bay have in common that make them unique within the global mining context?

The simple answer is they anchor a corridor which includes 415 mining supply and service companies who market their tools, talent and technology domestically and internationally.

The Northern Ontario corridor of mining suppliers is known worldwide in all mining circles as the centre of mining excellence based on products and expertise that, in some cases, stretch over 40 years of refinements and production of quality work in the field.

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The Future of Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Services Sector is Bright – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Here is the formula for a crystal ball. Take a cube of derived demand, add a book from a Singapore scholar, stir in some used predictions and a sprinkling of judgment. Apply this mix liberally to the mining supply and services industry and voilá – you can see the future.

Economists have long understood that nobody really wants grass seed – they like it once it has been turned into bread and a few people like it turned into lawns. Demand for wheat is almost all “derived” from the more basic demand for food. Demand for copper is even more indirect: copper makes wire to deliver electricity to bake bread. Nobody eats copper or stoves or electricity.

Nobody eats scoop trams, either. Continue Reading →

SAMSSA Hall of Fame – Fred Castron and Conrad C. Houle

The SAMSSA Hall of Fame recognizes management leaders who have developed and provided mining advancing technologies and/or products and services that  have improved the efficiencies of mining globally and domestically and have built or assisted in building companies in Northern Ontario that have proven to be successful.

The leaders in the mining supply and service industry have proven that mining is only as efficient and productive as the quality of products and services provided from mining supply companies.  Over 400 Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies can boast of their historical influence in mining camps worldwide and their significant employment opportunities for skilled personnel making this sector larger in number than all direct mining and refining jobs in Northern Ontario.

SAMSSA and the Mining World congratulate the following inductees into the SAMSSA Hall of Fame: Fred Castron, Cast Resource Equipment Limited and Conrad C. Houle, Chairman and CEO, Tracks and Wheels Equipment Brokers Inc.

Fred Castron

The son of a blue collar mine worker in Penticton, B.C., Fred grew up in the 30’s and 40’s with limited formal education but he developed a fondness for numbers and a willingness to learn which would later serve him well as a young partsman working in the warehouses of Blackwood Hodge Equipment Limited.

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Sudbury’s Mine Specialists (Part 4 of 4)

OEM Off-Highway magazine Editor Chad Elmore has given Republic of Mining.com permission to post an October 2007 article on Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Service sector.

OEM Off-Highway magazine provides an editorial mix of new technology, component information, engineering processes and industry news to help product development teams design and produce better off-highway vehicles and component systems. OEM Off-Highway

The Northern Bermuda Triangle

Today CVRD Inco is still involved in product development, albeit in a different capacity. Most of the equipment in Sudbury leaves the factory fully assembled. If it’s going to be lowered in a cage, a few tricks must be performed. Depending on the size of the cage, this can mean tearing the machine down, lowering the pieces on the cage and rebuilding it underground. It’s an extra process that can cost the mine as much as $30,000.

CVRD Inco wanted to prove new machines above ground. It created a ramp with a 20% grade in an old open pit mine near Sudbury.
It’s been called the Bermuda Triangle of the North because things happen to vehicles on the ramp test that never occurred in the past. The vehicles are pounded repeatedly by worst-possible situations that replicate real-world conditions. The Canadian Standards Assoc. (CSA) and other groups spell out specifications like safe stopping distances. CVRD Inco’s test uses the standards, then cuts them by a third to make up for extended maintenance intervals.

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Sudbury’s Mine Specialists (Part 3 of 4)

OEM Off-Highway magazine Editor Chad Elmore has given Republic of Mining.com permission to post an October 2007 article on Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Service sector.

OEM Off-Highway magazine provides an editorial mix of new technology, component information, engineering processes and industry news to help product development teams design and produce better off-highway vehicles and component systems. OEM Off-Highway

Adit Makes It Easier

NORCAT’s laboratory work is balanced by its mine training and testing facility in the former Fecunis Mine, located on Xstrata Nickel land in Onaping, an hour northwest of Sudbury.

Safety indoctrination is required for any person employed by a mine or working as a contractor underground in Ontario. CVRD Inco and Xstrata Nickel look to NORCAT for training.

The month-long course for the hard rock miner common core program begins in front of the computer and moves to safety training at NORCAT’s underground mine. This is followed by hands-on work where students go through the cycle of drilling, blasting, scaling, bolting and mucking. More than 2,000 students each year go through the program, which is taught by miners with decades of real-world experience.
While extracting paydirt isn’t the goal of NORCAT’s mine work, the mining is real. Students don headlamps to open drifts and ventilation passages following a plan. The mine gets deeper with each wave of students. The longest drift is 750 ft.

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Sudbury’s Mine Specialists (Part 2 of 4)

OEM Off-Highway magazine Editor Chad Elmore has given Republic of Mining.com permission to post an October 2007 article on Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Service sector.

OEM Off-Highway magazine provides an editorial mix of new technology, component information, engineering processes and industry news to help product development teams design and produce better off-highway vehicles and component systems. OEM Off-Highway

Deep Impact

How Sudbury developed into a mining technology center can be linked to a number of factors. Common elements in every explanation are a direct hit from a meteorite (about 1.8 billion years ago) that created one of the highest concentrations of nickel-copper sulfides in the world, and the two oldest and largest mining com¬panies in the area.

They were for¬merly known as Inco (Creighton Mine started producing ore in 1901; today production areas are more than 8,000 ft. deep) and Falconbridge (80 years of history in Sudbury). Last year Inco was acquired by Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) and became CVRD Inco, while Falconbridge attracted Switzerland’s Xstrata plc. The Sudbury division is now Xstrata Nickel.

Clusters of companies that work together to solve industry problems do not develop overnight. Mining activity throughout the basin increased after the 1940s. Mines required custom-built equip¬ment to meet unique applications and standards. Synergy between individual mines owned by the same company was rare. Between different companies it was worse. Still, improving production efficiencies — especially when nickel prices bottomed out — was always important. Local suppliers were busy sup¬porting activity in and around Sudbury and expanded along with their customers. Mine firms were in a position to support research in mineral extraction techniques and technology, and when something worked they became a customer. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Mine Specialists (Part 1 of 4)

OEM Off-Highway magazine Editor Chad Elmore has given Republic of Mining.com permission to post an October 2007 article on Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Service sector.

OEM Off-Highway magazine provides an editorial mix of new technology, component information, engineering processes and industry news to help product development teams design and produce better off-highway vehicles and component systems. OEM Off-Highway

If mining expertise is what you need, the Sudbury Basin has it.

The deep hard rock mines lining Ontario’s Sudbury Basin feature some of the toughest working conditions in North America. There are more than 3,000 miles of mine tunnels under the region’s lakes and trees — some of those miles start at the bottom of a shaft more than 8,000 ft. below sea level. Down there, moisture-laden air mixes with ambient rock temperatures hovering around 100 F. Factor in long ramps with grades of more than 20%, narrow tunnels walled with unforgiving igneous rock and the occasional puddle holding enough sulfuric acid to consume a screw — Pebble Beach, this is not.

Equipment builders get no breaks, even in that environment. Whether using a production or support vehicle, mine operators expect maximum availability from their equipment. An equipment failure in a narrow tunnel 5,500 ft. down and two miles from the elevator, or cage, to the surface can be very expensive and downright inconvenient. Mines also want the machines to be safe and easy to maintain.

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Need Recognition for Mining Supply and Service Companies – Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano - Executive Director of SAMSSAI had the good fortune to spend a day with mining colleagues and mining supply and service leaders in a workshop in Sudbury sponsored by NORCAT and The Conference Board of Canada to discuss the lack of recognition and the importance of mining and related services within the national and provincial political context.

It was clear that mining as a national strategic asset receives little acknowledgement from all senior levels of government. Note the recent mining takeovers. What is more distressing is the almost total dismissal of the mining supply side within policy discussions.

It is frustrating to sit in rational discussion about industries that generate jobs and innovative products to a booming natural resource sector and find that all Canadian related mining services/products can’t be catalogued and identified within government statistics and profiles.

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Ontario’s Mining Supply Companies Need Strategic Govenment Investments – Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano - Executive Director of SAMSSAMining as a national asset seems to have fallen of the table. Not one substantial government document or study that has been produced places any real value on the mining industry or its strategic importance to the Canadian economy.

There are few restrictions on foreign takeovers and the entire sector is rarely placed under the microscope and examined as a “natural asset” that needs to be given serious protection as international brokers and banks play ownership games with resource companies around the world.

The Competition Policy Review Panel – Sharpening Canada’s Edge – is beginning a consultation on investment policies and how Canada can become a destination for talent, capital and innovation. Continue Reading →

Dick DeStefano and the birth of SAMSSA – Stan Sudol (Part B)

Fuller Industrial PhotoSudbury Mining Supply and Service Industry is Enormous

More money is spent within a 500-kilometer radius of Sudbury on underground hard-rock mining supplies than anywhere else in Canada, the United States or Chile. In 2006, Inco alone spent over $400 million on local supplies and services. That figure will only grow with the announcement to bring the Totten Mine into production as well as the Creighton Deep and Copper Cliff Deep projects. Xstrata Nickel is building Nickel Rim South, while FNX Mining will be bringing the Podolsky mine into production in 2008, just to mention a few other initiatives.

One of the main aspects of SAMSSA is the global nature of the organization. During its first year, DeStefano made contacts with 125 embassies focusing on their trade commissioners and government agencies who might have been interested in partnerships or distributorships. Continue Reading →

Dick DeStefano and the Birth of SAMSSA – Stan Sudol (Part A)

SAMSSA Members in Antofagasta, Chile (2004); Dick DeStefano, SAMSSA; Andre Ruest, B&D Manufacturing; Norbert Hoffman, Novenco; Ivania Misetic, Chilean Economic Development AgencyWhile southern Ontario manufacturing and auto industries are under severe economic stress due to the high dollar, competition from China and a U.S. recession, Sudbury’s cluster of mining supply and service (MS&S) companies are growing, exporting their products and technical expertise around the world.

Due to their success and economic clout, the local mining suppliers formed an industry association in 2003 called the Sudbury Area Mining Supply Services Association (SAMSSA) that also has members from North Bay and Timmins. The three communities supply about 35% of mining supply and services in Canada – the second largest concentration in the country.

SAMSSA Executive Director Dick DeStefano says, “Unfortunately, the Sudbury cluster has not been recognized by the provincial government as an important manufacturing centre. In the last three years the local cluster, including North Bay and Timmins have been exporting their products around the world, significantly increasing their revenues and regional employment.” Continue Reading →