Innovative mining solutions

innovative mining and engineering solutions and advanced mining technologies
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Nataliebarry,New Zealand,Researcher
Published Date:13-07-2017
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10 0 ta v ni n i e m i n i n g ts iudn ry th no ionsA WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Innovation shapes our future. This book bears witness to the Michel Jébrak, professor in the Minalliance is proud to present ingenuity and know-how of Département des sciences de la an unprecedented study on scientists, technicians, and all those Terre et de l’atmosphère at the innovations in the mineral industry. involved in the mining industry. Université du Québec à Montréal, Conducted under the guidance of It illustrates how the industry uses is an expert in the field of mineral Michel Jébrak, this study is the fruit innovation as a lever to stay on resources. Having worked in Africa, of extensive research and analysis. the cutting edge and prepare for Europe, and the Middle East, he is It compiles and summarizes one the future, resolving major issues well positioned to appreciate the hundred innovations developed to remain competitive and meet innovative capacity of the mineral around the world in several worldwide needs. industry and its potential impact domains of scientific expertise, on the global scale. His point of and touches on many facets of The content fits perfectly within view clearly demonstrates the the industry, including ongoing the mission of Minalliance, which leading role played by the industry initiatives that improve working in terms of innovation, as well as is to "give all Quebecers access to conditions for miners and minimize clear, consistent, and coordinated its contribution to scientific and the environmental footprint of information about the activities technical knowledge. Designed for mining activities. of the mineral industry, and a wide readership, this book has highlight its positive contribution made no compromises in either to Québec’s social, economic, and quality or substance, and we hope environmental development." it will give you an appreciation of the mineral industry’s energy and strong innovative character. This publication is sure to interest those already keeping abreast of developments in the mineral Claudine Renauld 5 industry, in addition to people Executive Director concerned with economic progress, as many of the innovations are relevant to other fields. The book’s comprehensive and informative content will remain a source of reference for readers.ACTIVE FIElDS FOR THE MInIng InDUSTR y, WHICH DATES REnEWAl THROUgH bACk TO THE DAWn InnOVATIOn. TODA y, OF CIVIlIA z TIOn, IS MInIng InnOVATIOnS OFTEn COnSIDERED ADDRESS THE An AnCIEnT gROWIng DEMAnD InDUSTRy. DESITE p FOR An EVER- ITS AgE-OlD ROOTS, bROADEnIng nATURAl RESOURCE RAngE OF MInERAl EXplORATIOn AnD RESOURCES, EXplOITATIOn WHIlE RESECTI p ng HAVE Al WAyS bEEn COMMUnITIES AnD AMOng THE MOST THE EnVIROnMEnT . SUMMARy This book presents one Smarter exploration… Safer working conditions… — Innovation represents an hundred innovations, mostly established and ongoing structural — Identifying minerals, chemical — Improved underground technological, that have element for the mining industry compositions, and physical communication marked the last ten years of that continues to draw from many properties directly in the field — Increasingly sophisticated mining, particularly in Québec. areas of knowledge: chemistry, — Detecting even deeper mineral means of ore transportation Although not exhaustive, the physics, biology, engineering, deposits list demonstrates the ingenuity computer science, etc. — Emergency response measures of a profession that strives for — Modelling mineral deposits, developed for the harshest — By providing new techniques to more efficient, sustainable their potential economic assets, conditions deal with particularly challenging practices by continually and challenges right from the environments, mining industry revisiting and renewing its earliest stages of exploration A more environmentally innovations are often transferable methods and concepts. As such, responsible industry… to other fields and may eventually innovations in the industry More efficient mining… find much broader applications. — Solutions to deal with acid have been instrumental in the For example, much of the — Mining methods based on the mine drainage following areas: expertise in the rapidly expanding latest advances in robotics — Solutions to transform mine field of environmental engineering — Real-time monitoring of the tailings into beneficial products has been fuelled by innovations flow of rock and ore through the — Overall, innovations in the from the mining sector mine and processing plant mining industry aim to improve — Innovations create lasting value, — Simulations at the mine design worker safety, increase efficiency, thereby positioning Québec as one stage to test different solutions and minimize environmental of the world leaders in this area before implementation impacts 11 Michel Jébrak and Jeffrey Vaillancourt Université du Québec à Montréal Département des sciences de la Terre et de l’atmosphèreInTRODUCTIOn Mining lies at the foundation of civilization: from the first What is innovation? Innovation is not just technological, Copper Age smelters in Cyprus to the bronze workings of the As Jacques Ménard, president of however; it can also be social, in Shang Dynasty in the twelfth century BC, to the gold rushes BMO Financial Group, pointed which case the needs of society in the North American West and the mining complexes and out during a presentation to the drive the technological advances. steel workings of nineteenth-century Europe, mines have Canadian Club of Montreal on The most pertinent example today been prominent on the economic landscape since antiquity. 28 February 2011, "Productivity is would be innovations in the field of Although such a long history may suggest archaic traditions, not working harder but working environmental conservation, which an old industry does not mean old methods smarter, being better organized stem mostly from the growth of and using better tools. One word the green movement over the last In the eyes of the general public, is considerable: by definition, sums this up: innovation." Simply thirty years. the mining industry may not appear mines tap into non-renewable put, innovation can be defined as especially innovative. Its budget resources hidden below the Earth’s a new idea that works (Mulgan, A description of our research for research and development is surface where unknown and 2007). Innovation is thus the methodology precedes a brief on the low side compared to inhospitable conditions hinder result of an idea that meets a history of innovations in the investments in the fields of exploration and extraction. need. Technological innovation mining industry. biotechnology or communications, involves creating new products and and even industry insiders are This publication draws attention improving existing ones, as well as self-critical in this respect. to the innovative character of the optimizing production and adopting mining industry by documenting the latest advances. Innovation But the reality is entirely different. and illustrating one hundred recent differs from discovery or invention Mining has always been a source innovations originating from in that it fundamentally targets the of innovation, consistently striving or relevant to the Québec mining application aspect. for better efficiency, safety, industry, from initial exploration and environmental and social to final rehabilitation, which 15 integration, often in difficult touch on many areas of science circumstances. The challenge and technology.RESEARCH —THE InnOVATIOn METHODOlOgy MUST IMROVE p Our search for innovations in the mining industry drew on ERFORMA p nCE; a vast wealth of literature from the world’s principal mining regions (Canada, Australia, the United States, Europe, South Africa, Chile), as well as information gleaned from our many meetings with innovators on the Québec mining scene, —THE InnOVATIOn particularly in the Abitibi region. In addition to academic journals, contributions to the industry that MUST bE USEFUl TO the following sources provided undergo continuous improvement. information: Mining Association Finally, a few innovations dating of Canada, Canadian Mining back more than twenty years, THE QUb é EC InDUSTRy; Innovation Council, Canadian mainly geophysical methods, Mining Journal, Australian Mining were also deemed worthy of Association, CSST, Groupe MISA, mention, having greatly benefited MineCan, CANMET, CONSOREM, from a number of technological —THE InnOVATIOn CIM, DIVEX, NORCAT, NSERC- breakthroughs over the past Polytechnique-UQAT Industrial decade. Other selection criteria Chair, Gecamin (Chile), the included the following: MUST CURREnTly UQAT-UQAM Chair in Mining Entrepreneurship, MRNF, and numerous mineral exploration and bE In USE OR SOOn mining companies. Most of the innovations presented TO bE USED by THE in this publication have emerged over the last ten years. Some of the less recent — those developed InDUSTRy. during the last couple of decades — are also included because they represent groundbreaking Many of the innovations fit into In addition to the one hundred porphyries led directly to the MInERAl broader categories, for example, innovations presented here, other, successful development of Osisko’s DEVElOpMEnT signal processing, aerospace more conceptual, innovations have mine in Malartic in the Abitibi CyClE. technologies, communications, profoundly affected the approach region. Furthermore, the concept new materials, etc. The world of the mining industry. Looking of a "green mine" (or a "zero THE STAgES of mining innovation does not at how the types of minerals footprint mine"), notably advanced OF A MInIng operate in a vacuum: technological targeted by the exploration and by Natural Resources Canada in CyClE: advances are constantly shared mining industry evolve in response particular, will be of significant with other industrial fields, the to societal needs, technological importance in the coming years —ERMITTI p ng latest ideas and tools exchanged, revolutions, and market values because it encourages a thorough —EXplORATIOn and new solutions presented to for raw materials is a prime review of all aspects of mining in society. Although innovations example. Québec is expected to terms of its environmental impact. —FEASIbIlITy AnD come in various forms, from produce, in a few years, diamonds, These conceptual innovations can IMp ACT STUDIES concepts to applications, we have lithium, and vanadium – all new be conveyed to the public only favoured the more practical ones commodities for the province. through an in-depth introduction —COnSTRUCTIOn in this book, especially those with to the challenges and issues faced —EXTRACTIOn a strong technological character Concepts also play a pivotal role by the mining industry. that come close to true inventions in the development of mining and have wide public appeal. methods. A recent survey of The mining cycle can be divided into —ClOSURE exploration geologists (Jébrak, three stages: exploration, extraction, —REMEDIATIOn 2010) revealed that ore deposit and rehabilitation (or remediation). AnD MOnITORIng models, whether descriptive or The aspect of ore transformation is genetic, were of critical importance not addressed here. during the past ten years. As a case 19 in point, the realization that low- grade, high-tonnage gold deposits occur in association with granite MInIng Mining is the extraction of minerals from the ground, followed West was due to the successful by processing and beneficiation (concentration) in facilities technological crossover of located on or near the mine site. Modern mines are almost electrolysis and Bessemer ovens. completely mechanized, and the operations involve a set of When copper prices collapsed in techniques that are specific to the type of mine (underground the 1970s, the copper industry mines work very differently than open-pit mines or quarries). survived by implementing the newly developed SX-EW Underground ore is accessed by Once removed from the mine, extraction-by-solvent process. shafts, ramps, and horizontal and the ore must undergo a series of vertical tunnels known as drifts transformations. In the case of Most of the innovations presented and stopes, whereas quarrying relies metal mines, there are two main here pertain to the mining on classic techniques often used steps: mineralogical processing, stage. For clarity, mining-related in public works. In both quarries which extracts the minerals innovations are classified under and underground environments, of interest through crushing, the following themes: ore ore recovery depends on ground grinding, sorting, and washing- extraction (drilling and blasting), stability, and, consequently, on the drying processes followed by transport and communications, field of rock mechanics. Mining metallurgical processing, which ore processing and safety. begins by blasting apart the ore, extracts the metals of interest accomplished through explosives from those minerals through and fragmentation technologies. melting, electrometallurgy, or Several different mining methods hydrometallurgy techniques. have been developed to extract Innovations in this sector have large volumes of ore at depth. played a key role in the evolution Once extracted, this ore is loaded of the mining industry, rendering 25 and hauled up to the surface. it economical to mine increasingly Mine personnel must use a low-grade ore or rock in which variety of specialized equipment the metals are particularly difficult for groundwater management to extract. For example, the rise (dewatering), ventilation (aeration), of the late nineteenth-century lighting, communications, etc. copper industry in the American REHAbIlITATIOn Over the last fifteen years, mine-site rehabilitation has been integrated into the early planning process, even preceding the start of mining operations. Rehabilitation management is now an ongoing consideration throughout the mine’s lifecycle, from both a technical and financial perspective. When a deposit’s resources are depleted or no longer economically viable, the mine ceases operations. At this point, the final stage of site specifically related to storage, rehabilitation (remediation) begins. burial, demolition, inerting, The aim is to remove or neutralize infilling, and waste management. contaminants from the site so that Decontaminating waste rock and it may begin a new life in a non- polluted soil is an important aspect mining capacity. A considerable of the rehabilitation process. number of studies must be carried out to accomplish this, and the findings can also be used to restore orphaned (abandoned) mine sites inherited from another era. Mine-site rehabilitation comprises several steps defined according to the landscape, the mine’s geochemical and environmental impacts (on water and biological systems), and the social impacts. Rehabilitation may include activities A bRIEF HISTORy OF MInIng InnOVATIOnS Industrial innovation was born The safety lamp made its debut in Mining techniques are the Formula- largely from the mining sector, 1815, only slightly before the North One race cars of the industry: devised and history is full of noteworthy American mining booms for copper for a difficult and competitive world, examples. Environmental in Michigan (1840–1843) and they are at the cutting edge of new regulations can be traced back to for gold in California (1848) and ideas and represent the testing Spain’s Almadén mercury mine in Colorado (1858). In 1867, Alfred ground for larger-scale applications. the seventeenth century. Not long Nobel invented dynamite, which after, Thomas Newcomen designed also found an early application in the first steam engine in the the world of mining early eighteenth century to draw water from tin mines in Cornwall. The expanding market for metals Setting out to improve the limited at the beginning of the twentieth effectiveness of Newcomen’s century required new production pump, James Watt, a technician at and processing methods, paving the University of Glasgow, invented the way for advances in the field the condensation chamber, thereby of metallurgy. Electrolytic processes making a fortune with his friend to refine aluminum and, later, Matthew Boulton. In 1784, the copper were perfected just twenty two associates patented the steam years after the advent of Gramme’s locomotive to move mined ore, dynamo; these processes are still and when the first locomotives in use today to purify metals. hit the market twenty years later, Flotation, the most effective they quickly left the underground method of separating minerals coal mines for a breath of fresh from the gangue, or the barren 31 air Boulton and Watt’s mining parts of mined ore, emerged in invention was even used to Broken Hill, Australia, in 1903, automate the manufacture of and rapidly spread throughout textiles and thus revolutionize the the world. clothing industry.INNOVATIONS IN EXPLORATIONInVERSIOn AlgORITHMS Geophysics is traditionally used to predict the position of a mineralized body by seeking out, for example, anomalies in the magnetic field, the gravitational field, or electrical conductivity. The new inversion algorithms allow geophysical data to be used in a different way. By first establishing the geophysical properties of rocks and then measuring their geophysical signatures in the field, it is possible to generate three-dimensional models of their potential mineralization and the surrounding geological environment. Inversion algorithms have led to many discoveries of copper and gold deposits. 35 01 Results of an inversion of magnetotelluric geophysical data (C. Farquharson). Source: www.mun.caIC-MS A p nAlySES Mineral exploration requires the accurate, reliable, and rapid analysis of rocks and minerals (expressed as percentages or as grams of metal per metric ton of rock). Advances in the 1990s in the field of spectrometric analysis led to the development of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which can simultaneously analyze dozens of elements with great accuracy. The technique is also capable of measuring certain metals down to a level of milligrams per metric ton. ICP-MS increases efficiency through multiple analyses and lowers costs. It is used at all stages of the mining industry, from exploration to remediation. 02 ICP-MS spectrometer from Ametek. Source : www.directindustry.com OR p TAblE AnAlyzER This tool identifies the chemical elements comprising a rock’s surface using X-rays. It provides on-the-spot results, which helps avoid unnecessary sampling and analytical testing at a laboratory. This time-saving device thereby reduces the environmental impact of exploration. 39 03 Source: www.niton.comAVIRIS The AVIRIS airborne sensor uses hyperspectral measurements, that is, it measures hundreds of spectral bands, whereas ordinary satellites measure only a few at a time (a spectral band refers to a part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation). By combining these spectral bands, it becomes possible to identify not only different types of vegetation, but also the nature of the minerals present. This process can be used to directly produce rock maps in areas lacking ground cover (cold or hot desert environments). The first such satellite was launched in 1997 (Lewis Hyperspectral Imager, HIS, NASA). AVIRIS is a spectrometer that covers the range between 0.400 and 2.500 nm, divided into 224 contiguous spectral bands. 04 Aviris satellite, Red Mountains, Berger et al., 2003MASS bAlAnCE gEOgRAHIC I p nFORMATIOn Deposits of copper, zinc, and gold were produced SySTEMS (gIS) by circulating metal-laden hot water. As this water passed through rocks, it altered and transformed Geographic information systems (GIS) revolutionized them, dissolving some minerals and forming others. exploration practices by organizing and presenting This process may either increase or decrease the spatially referenced numerical data on a computer. density of the rock. Since the zone containing the The offices of exploration companies were once transformed rocks is often much larger than the covered in maps at different scales; today, they are deposit itself, we can explore by looking for these filled with computer screens on which geologists alteration zones. compile their information using geographic information systems like MapInfo and ArcGIS. A new quantitative method developed by CONSOREM applies sophisticated data processing to Some GIS applications are specifically developed to analytical results in order to calculate the quantities represent and process particular types of geological, of chemical elements that were added to or removed geochemical, and geophysical information. from each rock sample, thereby evaluating their likely distance from the site of potential mineralization. 05 06p AlEOSTRESS MAS p Finding a gold-vein ore deposit is no easy task. Research over the past few years, particularly in Australia, has revealed that a large number of these deposits represent fault zones that were active during seismic aftershocks along major geological faults, like the Cadillac Fault in the Abitibi region. Software programs are now available to predict the location of these deposits using paleostress models of the earth’s crust. Still at the research stage, the software can identify the most favourable areas, thus reducing the size of the region to cover during exploration. 45 07 Mapping of a pressure field around a rigid body; UDEC modelling, Ridley, 1990 MISTISSInI REDICTIVE p MAS p CHIbOUgAMAU MATAgAMI CHAp AIS The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (MRNF) and CONSOREM are DESMARAISVIllE jOUTEl developing new mapping products that help predict MIQUElOn the location of potential mineralization based on the locations of known mineralization. This new kind of map relies on advances in the field of artificial nORMETAl lEbEl-SUR-QUéVIllOn intelligence, particularly neural networks and fuzzy lA SARRE logic. Both organizations make public the locations of identified exploration targets that share strong AMOS geological and geochemical similarities to known mineralized examples. bARRAUTE ROUyn-nORAnDA SEnnETERRE MAlARTIC VAl-D’OR nOTRE-DAME-DU-nORD VIllE-MARIE 47 08 Predictive mineral map for the Abitibi region; MRNF, 2005MAp DESIgnATIOn The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec developed a computer application that allows mining titles (mineral claims) to be acquired online via its website. Québec is one of the only places in the world to use this technology. 49 09 Source: www.mrnf.gouv.qc.ca/mines

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