Canadian Manufacturing

Mining giant to establish Canadian research centre

Rio Tinto will create a new research centre for underground mine construction in Canada, with a planned investment of $10-million over five years.



MELBOURNE, Australia: Mining mega-company Rio Tinto will create the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction in Canada, with a planned investment of $10-million over five years.

The new Centre will be based at the existing Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) in Sudbury, Ont., and will focus on innovative rapid mine construction and ground control for mining at depth.

The move brings the number of global long term Rio Tinto research centres around the world to five.

The work with CEMI will assist Rio Tinto’s development of new excavation systems through its Mine of the Future program, which focuses on significantly improving the construction and operation of underground mines.

As part of this program, Rio Tinto will conduct a full scale performance verification in 2012 at Northparkes’ copper and gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, as the first of three new underground excavation systems.

“In order to satisfy the global demand for minerals we will need to go deeper to access new resources. By partnering with CEMI, Rio Tinto is supporting research into high speed underground mine construction,” says John McGagh, Rio Tinto’s head of innovation.

“This collaboration is…part of our strategy to collect the world’s experts and develop mutually beneficial partnerships to develop technologies which address the future requirements of Rio Tinto. Put simply, there is no other mining operation in the world attempting to take the approach that we are on this scale.”

CEMI President/CEO Doctor Peter K Kaiser said Rio Tinto’s support would enable CEMI to collaborate with recognised researchers on ground control and machine performance issues.

“The Centre’s research into high speed underground mine construction will include implementation of mechanised tunnelling and shaft sinking systems and CEMI will assist in the development of innovative support systems and minimising the risks for such technologies.” Rio Tinto general manager of underground innovation Fred Delabbio.

Key areas that CEMI will work on include:

  • Developing and designing support methods for different excavation systems
  • Establishing reliable predictions of rock behaviour to ensure effective construction technologies are used
  • Advanced rock mass characterisation technologies
  • Performance of mechanical rock excavation based systems from an equipment and ground management perspective
  • Pillar design and underground excavation stability projects such as rock fracture modeling.

PHOTO: Copyright © 2010 Rio Tinto

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