Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2019

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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FANS AND VENTILATION JUNE 2019 • E&MJ 49 hotbed for technological mine develop- ments in recent years, especially in the field of ventilation. Maestro Digital Mine, which specializes in providing mines with digital ventilation control solutions, also calls Sudbury home. Michael Gribbons, vice president sales and marketing, explained the area's draw. "The Sudbury Basin has been a test ground for advanced mine ventilation concepts due to significant govern- ment-backed funding since 2010," he said. "This C$8.5 million ventilation project was made possible by a C$4.25 million contribution from the federal gov- ernment's Community Adjustment Fund, and a matching amount was funded by Vale and Xstrata Nickel (now Glencore). "The goal was to reduce the energy footprint of two mines by controlling the amount of air to different locations based upon the current requirements, instead of sending the same amount to all areas. The project ultimately provided data to support ventilation controls at many of the mines within the basin." These mines were getting deeper and hotter, so the energy intensity required to ventilate them increased rapidly, and this made ventilation an important factor in mine sustainability. "In fact, some of the projects were not economically feasible due to the ventila- tion requirements," Gribbons added. "Maestro Digital Mine participated in this program, and quickly understood both the benefits and challenges around con- trolling ventilation in an underground mine. "Environmental sensors needed to be both accurate and repeatable in order to take advantage of automatically controlling the ventilation. However, at the time, all the sensors on the market were designed for use in surface applications and not meant for measurement at depth. Our re- search concluded that many of the sensors were highly inaccurate, and some didn't even work in the high-heat and high-pres- sure applications seen underground. "Maestro then developed digital sen- sors that were accurate, repeatable and economical for underground mining ap- plications. They compensate for changes in barometric pressure and temperature to assure accuracy at all levels in the mine. Since the sensors are all digital, additional information could then be logged and retrieved enabling advanced diagnostic functions and early predictive analysis. We also learned that the older legacy analog sensors required a program- mable logic controller (PLC) in place to get the data back to surface." Maestro's Vigilante AQS air quality station was born out of this research. The system eliminates the requirement for an expensive and complex PLC. "As a result of our research and product development, Maestro Digital Mine has pro- vided ventilation solutions to more than 128 mines globally," Gribbons added proudly. Indeed, Maestro's systems manage air requirements at many of the world's deep- est and most technologically advanced mines, including: Goldcorp's Borden and Hoyle Pond mines; Agnico Eagle's Goldex mine; McEwen's Black Fox mine; Glen- core's Onaping Depth and Raglan oper- ations; and Rio Tinto's Resolution mine. Maestro's systems also measure conditions in many Vale mines and have the capabil- ity to transmit data to be used by Vale's ventilation control systems. Internation- al projects include two MATSA mines in Spain, Randgold's Kibali mine, De Beer's Venetia mine and Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi. "Along with these high-profile proj- ects, we continue to supply equipment to all of Barrick and Newmont's mines in Nevada, and every potash mine in Sas- katchewan," Gribbons added. The company launched its newest IoT-enabled product, the Zephyr AQS air-quality station at the CIM conference held in Montreal at the start of May. "Whereas the Vigilante AQS will han- dle 100% of mine ventilation applications, this comes with an added cost," Gribbons explained. "The Zephyr AQS was made to satisfy 80% of all the air monitoring require- ments of a modern mine. Airflow rate, air- flow direction, gas levels, barometric pres- sure and wet/dry bulb temperatures can be measured in real time and now affordably." The company has already pre-sold 100 units to three existing hard-rock mining customers in Canada, the U.S. and Spain. A view over Vale's Coppercliff nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada. The Sudbury area has become a hotbed for mine technology development in recent years. (Photo: Vale Agency) One of Maestro's air quality monitoring systems in action. (Photo: Maestro Digital Mine)

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