Published on: 1/22/2014 2:56:26 PM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Government grants $15 million for deep mining research


The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation will use the funding to make deep mining more efficient


By: Jonathan Migneault

Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, announced $15 million for the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation's Ultra Deep Mining Network. He made the announcement on Jan. 22 at Science North.
Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, announced $15 million for the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation's Ultra Deep Mining Network. He made the announcement on Jan. 22 at Science North.

The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) received $15 million in federal funding for its Ultra Deep Mining Network, announced Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology.

Rickford made the announcement at Science North's Vale Cavern, where representatives from CEMI and Vale said the funding will help address the challenges posed by mining deeper than 2.5 km.

The CEMI project was one of the winners of the government's Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence.

The $15 million in funding for the Ultra Deep Mining Network was the largest grant awarded to the program's four funding recipients.

“Clearly Sudbury is going to be the face of ultra deep mining research,” said Rickford. “We think this kind of research isn't just important to improve the effectiveness of deep mining and safety, but it also creates jobs.”

Douglas Morrison, CEMI's president and CEO, said in addition to the government's contribution Wednesday, the Ultra Deep Mining Network has received $31 million in funding from the mining industry.

The private funding includes $17 million in cash contributions, and $14 million in in-kind contributions, including access to facilities and equipment.

Morrison said the research will aim to solve four challenges mines face when they descend to extreme depths: rock stress, increasing heat, falling productivity and difficult work conditions.

“We need to try to find ways to protect the human component of the system from those conditions,” Morrison said.

Samantha Espley, general manager of mines and mills technical services with Vale's Ontario operations, said the company wants to reach three kilometres in depth, or nearly 10,000 feet, at Sudbury's Creighton Mine within the next decade.

Creighton Mine is currently under its Phase 3 expansion, which includes the extension of the primary access ramp from 7,940 to 8,200 level and the creation of three main production levels to access additional ore bodies.

“The project, which is expected to cost around $250 million, also includes the extension of all mine services and the construction of major infrastructure at Creighton Mine,” Vale spokesperson Angie Robson told Northern Life in an email. “It started in 2010 and is expected to be ongoing until April 2021.”

Espley said cooling is the biggest hurdle to overcome when a mine reaches extreme depths. “We're right at a critical point where our current (cooling) system is at capacity,” she said. “We have to think of a new system to help us get down to the next level.”

Vale was an early supporter of CEMI and gave the organization $5 million in 2006 to support its first five years of research. The company renewed its commitment to CEMI with additional funding.

In addition to funding for CEMI's Ultra Deep Mining Network, the government's Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence granted $15 million in funding for cancer research in Quebec City; $12 million for green aviation research in Montreal; and $7.7 million for research on advanced electronics manufacturing in Toronto.

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