Less than a year after purchasing a test mine property near Lively, MacLean Engineering is preparing to use the former Mining Technologies International (MTI) facility to showcase its various battery-electric and remotely operated mining vehicles there.
MacLean purchased the property in September 2018 on the former MTI industrial site on Magill Street in the Walden Industrial Park (Lively) area of Greater Sudbury. The test mine is less than 10 kilometres from MacLean’s sales and service centre in Sudbury's South End.
MacLean’s Sudbury general manager, Stella Holloway, said the mine property needed to be brought into compliance with several provincial regulations with respect to mining operations and health and safety. MacLean has even set up an agreement for mine rescue services, she said.
The 300-metre ramp and adjoining cavern was part of a test mine project carried out in 2012 by MTI. Nearly three years later, MTI sold its property to Joy Global. The sale did not include the test mine property or the nearby 15,000-square-foot industrial building. Maclean stepped up to buy both facilities.
“The whole premise of acquiring the test mine was so we could do research and development in house, versus having to work with the customers to use their ramps, their faces. It could really be cumbersome,” Holloway explained.
The whole idea has become a “game changer” said Holloway.
“Now we will be able to assign the required level of time to refine and experiment with our new products and technologies to ensure safe and reliable solutions for our customers.”
She added that activity has ramped up significantly in recent months.
“Over the last few months of nice weather we’ve moved pretty quickly. We’ve had Garson Pipe (contractors) come in, we’ve had digging locates done, we’ve had water come to the new trailer, we’ve had an electric fence put in so that when you come in, you have to sign in at the gate and get your indoctrination done.
“So we really want to simulate the same environment and showcase our equipment in a mining environment, what our customers are used to seeing.”
She added that the company’s advanced vehicle team will be situated in the industrial building next to the mine portal, allowing them quicker access for testing and quality control work.
Stuart Lister, MacLean’s director of marketing and communications at the head office in Collingwood, said the Sudbury locations are still vital to the company operations.
“Having access in Sudbury is where the company started. Company founder Don MacLean came out of the mine, came down south to work for another OEM (original equipment manufacturer), then started his own company. The Sudbury and northern Lake Superior mines are really where the equipment solutions were sold back to, because that’s where his relationships were and it still our biggest branch,” said Lister.
He said the new test mine is expected to be a significant benefit to sales and marketing for Maclean Engineering.
“We can bring customers there. We can do video shoots and photo shoots and all that stuff that is difficult to do in a mine. Their job (mining customers) is to take rocks out of the ground, not to make room for us to do photo shoots,” he said.
“Now that we are the smallest of the global OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) and with Sandvik and Epiroc they have these kinds of facilities. And so I think it just fits in to that longer term of being a global OEM, and we need to have an underground lab to test and do quality pre-shipping testing and marketing stuff,” Lister added.
He said the work of MacLean Engineering fits in with Sudbury’s role of change and innovation for the mining industry in Canada.
“I see Sudbury, with projects like the Onaping Deep, for instance, being a window to the world and the mining world will always be watching to see what Sudbury is doing,” said Lister.
“That’s how we see our role in the mining world as well. We’re still a Canadian company but we are definitely on the world stage now,” he added.
Len Gillis is the editor at Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal. This story will appear in the September edition of that publication.