CHAPLEAU- As per reports, “Hundreds of feet below thick boreal forest blanketing the Canadian Shield, a squad of near-silent, battery-powered machines are tunneling toward gold in a multimillion-dollar mining experiment to ditch diesel”.
When commercial production on the 100,000-ounce-per-year mine executes till the second half of 2019, further savings would come from lower maintenance costs, said project manager Luc Joncas, noting diesel machines typically have 1,000 more parts than electric. Goldcorp Inc. is going to build the world’s first new all-electric mine which would be the high-stakes gambit to replace noisy, fume-belching equipment being closely watched by a diesel-dependent industry. A rough-hewn tunnel, some 800 feet underground, seems an incongruous setting for revolutionary technology, but front-line workers call it a game changer.
Stung by a multi-year slump in commodity prices that began recovering in 2016, miners remain desperate to keep operating costs down. Going electric could slash energy expenses while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Borden’s battery being powered by scoops and vehicles, underground workers will wear tags linked to a ventilation-on-demand system, moving air only where needed. Borden would try to save about $9 million per year on diesel, propane, and electricity. Electric equipment should help keep mine workers healthier. Studies show an elevated cancer risk for underground miners exposed to diesel exhaust, classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization.
Vehicles need huge batteries that consume a larger transport space, making diesel an economic sense at big pit operations. However, with the depletion of the near mine surfaces, men are compelled to go deep underground where the ventilation cost is too high and temperature makes survival difficult.