Green Mining

Green MiningGreen Mining

Greener Mining Innovations

Researchers and businesses alike are working to transform North American mining into a cleaner, greener industry. It’s an industry that affects ordinary people much more than they usually recognize: mining projects provide core materials for batteries, phones, and even tooth fillings.

Nevertheless, mining has earned a reputation as a dirty business that is bad for the environment and even dangerous. But mining is in the middle of a transformation — a greener future is already on its way, thanks to a range of new innovations.

Putting Money into Research

Ahead of everything else, major research and development commitments by companies and granting agencies are pushing the field of green mining forwards. It’s key for any mining company considering streamlining and greening their production to invest in development — change, after all, is expensive, and the best solutions work within existing systems.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) is backing cleaner mining at a national level, and established CanmetMining is conducting research and development on extraction processes and developing technologies towards the goal of creating long-term sustainable options.

Building Small

One new innovation in mining is the introduction of low-impact drilling rigs in remote areas. Energold, a Vancouver company, currently uses 100 of these rigs, which are made up of smaller-than-usual pieces, and can be transported in parts by hand and pack mule.

The resulting rigs are only about four by four meters, or about 4% the size of a standard rig. The reduced environmental impact of these rigs and their increased safety makes them an attractive green mining option.

Sonic Drilling

Faster drilling with no drilling muds is an ideal situation, and one that is a recent reality. An innovative process run out of Chilliwack, BC called sonic drilling uses mechanical oscillation in the drill head to drill up to three times faster than a conventional drill. It’s been used to mine diamonds, gold, lithium, and more. And the system uses absolutely no drilling fluids, which vastly reduces the method’s environmental impact.

Sorting Ore, Just Better than Before

No matter what kind of mine, it’s the mill that uses both water and energy. Cleaning up that process is a promising way to cut mining waste.

MineSense, a new technology out of Vancouver, BC, applies high-frequency electromagnetic spectroscopy to get real-time mineral content measurement in mining shovels. That way, useless material can be rejected immediately, and recovery at the mill is a streamlined and enhanced process. Overall, sensor-based sorting like that offered by MineSense offers big savings in energy, water, and chemical requirements for both extraction and evaluation in the mining process.

Reclaiming Lands

Restoring land after a mine closes its doors has traditionally been a long and difficult process, and if it isn’t done right, the area can become a risk for the surrounding communities and environment. That’s why a key green trend in mining has been increased attention to environmental rehabilitation, from soil to trees.

In New Zealand, a coal mining company called Solid Energy has pioneered a new way to rehabilitate old mining sites using municipal bio-solid waste. The innovation helps keep cities clean, and the bio-solids provide nutrient-rich organic matter. With the nutrient boost, plants are able to grow back quickly, simultaneously reducing the damage sediment run-off might otherwise cause.

Climate Change Impacts Mining

climate change impacts miningClimate Change Impacts Mining

Do you believe that the climate is changing?

Only 39% of mining businesses believe in climate change. A mere 19% have made plans to adapt to it. Whether you believe it or not, climate change is real and it is happening. Temperatures are higher than normal through all of the seasons. This is causing immediate problems, as well as other potential issues that may not been seen for years.

Are you prepared for climate change?

The climate changing is going to impact Canadian mining in big ways. Winter roads will be the first things to be affected by these changes. In fact, ice roads have already seen a difference. In 2006, the Diavik Diamond Mine, in the Northwest Territories, dramatically reduced the number of days their ice road was available. This decrease ranged from about 70 days down to 42 days. This reduction forced the company to have their shipments flown in, which increased their shipping cost to a little over $11 million dollars.

Elevated Temperatures in Ontario

Increasing temperatures in Ontario will likely result in less rainfall throughout their summers. This will directly affect the amount of water mines will get. In addition, this could result in exposed raw tailings, mine drainage and dust suppression. On the other hand, Northern Ontario may see an increase in rainfall, which can weaken dams and berms.

Studies show that mining companies’ executives may be the biggest challenge when planning for the effects of the climate change. The magnitude of the climate’s impact on mining operations is not always apparent, which is why they lack planning. Two surveys were conducted across Canada with samples of 100 people, which included mining industry workers, executives and engineer managers. These studies showed that those, who make the biggest decisions, do not see the need to plan for climate change impacts. However, it was found that the workers do see the need for cautionary plans.

The reason for this is due to several factors such as research gaps, uncertainty and costs. The mining industry’s biggest response to climate change, thus far, has been reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is a good start and will immediately help. To create a secure future, miners should start planning for the long term climate changes.

Ways to Fix Pending Issues

To convince the executives, more effective communication about the problems that arise with the climate changing. By creating climate change models, and analysis, as they affect regional areas, it becomes easier to visualize potential problems, and their especially the long term negative effects. These models will help all mining companies see the need for planning for the adaptation to the changing climate.

Canada’s government can also ease the planning process by providing data and resources that can help miners plan ahead. They can also provide funds to help minimize the danger for high-risk areas. New technologies are needed to help the mining industry deal with climate change. This shows a demand for investors, innovators, contractors and suppliers. Additionally, this upcoming demand will create many more career opportunities for Canadians.

Off Take Financing in Mining

off take financing in miningFinancially Helpful Off-Take Agreements

Off Take Financing in Mining

Mining companies in the global market face challenges such as unpredictable pricing, human resource and technological issues. However, one of the main challenges is finding suitable financing sources for the extraction and processing of mineral resources. Royalty deals, off-take agreements, strategic partnerships and earn-ins are becoming increasingly important for miners of all stages.

Given the lack of cash flow without a securable asset, the most promising methods of financing exploration happen only through providing equity. Since miners require the support of investors who can also buy the resource from them, it then becomes easier to raise financing. It is in this situation that the off-take agreement has become a popular form of financing.

Definition and features:

An off-take agreement is signed between a producer of a resource and a buyer. This happens before the construction of a facility, which can guarantee a market for the future production of a mineral resource. It ensures a market for the miners, especially for a mine prior to its establishment.

The term “off-take agreement” covers a wide variety of contracts for the sale of mineral production from a mine:

  • Sale agreements to metals traders, smelters and other end users
  • Commodity forward and hedging agreements
  • Tolling agreements with refiners
  • Take or pay contracts with project sponsors, end users and other parties

The off-take agreements are commonly used in bulk commodities such as coal, iron and limestone. The price and volume make up the bulk of the revenue. It gives the project company stable and secured revenue to pay its project debt obligation, its operation and process costs, and deliver its certain required return to the investors. Miners are provided with pre-production advances of cash in return for future compensation in the form of equity stakes, loans and convertible bonds, exclusive rights to purchase production at a determined price, and take or pay agreements. For example, the Canada Lithium Corp. in November 2012, announced a five-year off-take agreement with Tewoo ERDC (Tianjin Products and Energy Resources Development Co., Ltd., China) for a minimum annual commitment of 12,000 tons of battery-grade lithium carbonate, with an   additional 20% off-take in 2014.


Off-take agreements are payment agreements for a determined volume or guaranteed source of demand for the project, which can help to secure other sources of finance. A great example is from a Canadian firm, Avanti Mining Inc., who in April 2014, entered into an off-take agreement with SeAH M&S Corp. The company, SeAH M&S, will purchase, at prices based on the market price, up to 20% of its molybdenum concentrate production from its Kitsault mine over a 13 year period.

Lenders financing a project will generally make long-term sale contracts, which ensure the debt can be adequately serviced. It ensures a market for the future production of the resource. This guarantee increases the chances of acquiring financing from banks and lenders. Also, even start-up miners can get both the loan and the off-take in a single agreement. Loans linked to off-take agreements are another form of non-dilutive financing available to project developers.

Off-take agreements offer an alternative form of financing that allow junior mining companies to finance long-term developments. Of course, a successful agreement only works when both parties have done their due diligence, as well as minimize any risk associated with the extraction and processing of mineral resources.

Social Media for Mining: The Benefits

social media for miningThe Benefits of Social Media for the Mining Industry

With over 1 billion Facebook users, it is clear that this is the place where people are hanging out online. Along with the millions of location updates, baby pictures and recipes, Facebook is proving to be a viable marketing tool for many businesses; including the mining industry. Utilizing social media for mining companies is a fast growing need for those wanting to stay in the public eye. Keep in mind that when it comes to social media networking, Facebook isn’t the only major player. There are many social media platforms that can prove to be helpful for mining marketing. Here’s how these websites can be put to work for mining operations:

On Facebook

Every person, business, group, and even television show can have their own Facebook page. The status updates posted by the page’s administrator will be sent out to everyone who “likes” the page. The more followers, the greater your message’s reach will be. One of Facebook’s greatest attributes is that it is extremely user friendly. The ability to post photos, videos and documents is not only easy, but instantaneous. The Australian Institute of Mining and Mineralogy (AusIMM) has created their own Facebook group where they are actively sharing news and articles that would be of interest to their followers. They are also able to stimulate conversations about various mining industry concerns. Facebook can also be used by mining operations to create a platform where employees, working across various shifts, can stay connected and share information.

On LinkedIn

In the social media arena, LinkedIn has proven itself to be an effective networking site for business professionals. It is similar to Facebook in that you set up a profile and can add connections of friends and companies. However, there is less random posting as the information shared on LinkedIn is much more focused. The details of a LinkedIn profile act as an online resume. This enables LinkedIn users to network with companies who are hiring and grants the interested employer instant access to their applicable job history. Many recruiters are using LinkedIn to find new hires. Using this attribute of LinkedIn could help the mining industry find the next generation of engineers and geologists.

On Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter is all about the “status update.” However, because the message is limited to 140 characters or less, it has to be direct and to the point. Just because the Tweet is limited doesn’t mean you can’t include links. Many businesses use Twitter to announce special promotions or company news. By including a link with a short description or catchy title, you engage your followers who can then open the link to view the complete article, case history, press release, etc.

On YouTube

YouTube can be used for more than just watching cat videos or pranks. Companies and individual users can set up their own YouTube channel and post educational videos such as safety videos, training videos or even company news. For many, being able to watch a video instead of reading a long article or safety manual will allow the information to be more easily understood and retained. Online videos are also easily accessible, even for remote mining operations. For some examples of how mining machine manufacturers are using YouTube, see how Joy Mining Machinery and Thiess Mining are utilizing this social media platform. If your company is using social media as part of company operations, you need to establish posting policies for your employees. They are free to post their personal news on their own pages, but if they are speaking for the company, they should have a unified voice. The mining industry should take advantage of the opportunities that social media provides. Due to the mining industry often having a negative public image, it is extremely important that mining companies be more proactive in communicating with key stakeholders such as environmentalists, investors and the government.

Mining Technology: Wearable Technology Valuable for Training

mining technologyWearable Technology is Valuable for Training Miners

Many technology companies believe wearable technologies are the future.  Products have been created to track your fitness and to remind you of your daily appointments. Google is among the first to take advantage of these new technologies. They developed wearable technology called Google Glass, which is functional in real life. The headset has received a lot of positive attention. It is even creating a community of people, who are amongst the first to be invited to wear it. Google Glass frees its users from their smartphones, laptops and desktops. It has many features, including the ability to give and receive video and audio, as well as display web content. Users are capable of doing anything with Google Glass that a typical computer accomplishes.

We believe that the mining industry could benefit tremendously from Google Glass in the following ways:

Training Delivery: Mining companies could use the technology for training their employees. The glasses have 12GB of usable memory. When synched with Google’s cloud storage, it allows users to access large amounts of content. This means that training courses could be delivered anywhere at any time. Training classes, and other materials, can also be stored directly on the device for students to communicate wirelessly with a Learning Management System (LMS). Trainers would be able to track a student’s progress with the LMS. This allows miners to learn on the field instead of in the classroom. They a will also have quick access to important information that may be otherwise forgotten. The benefits include a shorter training cycle, which in turn translates to fewer mistakes made.

Coaching: The glass has the ability to record videos and take photos hands-free by using voice commands. This would allow the trainer to watch their employees in real time. Trainers can be anywhere, while still talking them through a task or answer their questions. By seeing exactly what the students see, the trainer has the opportunity to guide the students during job procedures that may involve complicated dangerous equipment. Trainers could also record videos themselves, so students can watch exactly how a task is done.

Since the trainer would no longer have to be by the trainee’s side, this type of real-time coaching is perfect for training miners. Mining companies can record videos for their employees to show them how a certain task needs to be completed. The trainer can also speak to the trainee in real time, possibly eliminating hazardous situations. Google Glass can help with safety training, which is vital in the mining industry.

Intelligent Assistant Software: The Google Glass software can help in training. If miners have a question, they can ask it out loud and the software will pull up relevant resources, such as a step-by-step video on how to solve the problem. It is a possibility that Google Glass could help companies, where language is a barrier. Mining companies are international and are located in remote regions; therefore, language can become an obstacle. It would be hard to communicate key concepts and lessons if the trainer and the student do not speak the same language. By using Google Glass, real-time translation can be implemented, which would help overcome any language barrier.

Conducting Risk Assessment in Mining

risk assessment in miningConducting Risk Assessment in Mining

Due to the many risks involved with mining, it has become an integral part of mining operations to assess risk. This is done, not only for employee safety, but also for profitability. Concerns for risk, in this industry, include: worker safety, high commodity prices, power consumption and technological reliability. In addition, further concerns are taken into consideration such as maintaining equipment, increasingly strict country regulations, restricting access to capital and regulating an unpredictable need for raw materials. Fortunately, many risks can be properly assessed and effectively prevented.

Mining is Risky Business

Effective risk assessment in mining is already in place, according to the Canadian Mining Journal. The journal states that mining companies are seeking advice on risk assessment before making investment decisions. For large mines, risk management uses multiple resources to create and implement reliable assessments.

5 Tips on Managing Risk in Mining:

  1. Build relationships with politicians: Get to know the political setting before you invest your money into a project. Problems in this area can arise, which could quickly put a stop to your project. You can reduce your risks by understanding the political setting first. It is important to know when to walk away from an investment.
  2. Know your supply threats: Remote areas are often the riskiest in this industry. One obstacle could be that transportation to, and from, the mine. Another issue might be having supplies shipped to the job site, which can become a problem with remote locations. Additionally, finding qualified workers can be challenging. It would be wise to review these risks thoroughly, so you know what your profit will likely be.
  3. Strengthen your relationship with insurers: Have a clear conversation with insurers and brokers, and make sure everyone knows exactly what coverage there is and what is being offered. Talk to your brokers who can help you transition from one stage of your project to the next. Your brokers will be able to offer you customized coverage for your specific needs.
  1. Create a business plan that outlines all potential risks: Without a strong risk assessment plan, you will be caught with surprises, when problems occur. This means sitting down with key members of your team to identify, prioritize, provide solutions and create a map about how to best minimize the risks.
  1. Implement ISO31000 in your company:  ISO 31000 is the standard in risk assessments. It is useful in providing a clear outline on managing risks. It provides executives with a flexible plan, which they can implement as situations arise.

There are some great resources online that can help your company with building a risk management plan. A few options are:

As miners, you face a lot of risks and volatility, which is why it is important to create an effective risk management program. These programs can help your company deal with threats and maximize any opportunities. By planning ahead and developing an experienced team, your company would be prepared for any situation that may arise.

First Nations and Mining

first nations and miningFirst Nations and Mining: Canadian Supreme Court Ruling for First Nations

The First Nations are now armed with a Supreme Court ruling. Mining companies are taking notice of this. The Tahltan First Nation announced that they are planning a title and aboriginal rights claim. This announcement came hours after the Tsilhqot’in First Nation received their ruling. Both tribes are fighting against the construction of mines on their land.

The Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court’s landmark history-making ruling confirms that the Tsilhqot’in’s have title to their traditional territory land. It also finds that the government of British Columbia violated its fiduciary responsibility when it distributed licenses to harvest timber in Tsilhqot’in land in 1983.

Chief Joe Alphonse spoke about the ruling saying that this brings them one step closer to being independent, without living on handouts. The Tsilhqot’ins are the first Indians in Canada to own their own land. Furthermore, they wish to be free to govern their own people independently. It is likely that more cases are pending, or are going to be started, by tribes throughout Canada. The tribe’s hope is to use the Supreme Court ruling to put a stop to the construction of the New Prosperity copper mine on their land, which was proposed by Taseko Mines.

The Tahltan have the same thing in mind. They want to stop Fortune Minerals’ proposed Arctos Anthracite Coal project. The president of the Tahltan Central Council, Annita McPhee, expressed her gratitude for the Tsilhqot’in people. She stated that it was a historical day for the First Nations people of Canada. The Arctos Anthracite Coal project is in Sacred Headwaters, which is considered to be a traditional hunting ground for the Tahlton tribe. They do not want any development in that area. McPhee says that she has tried to get Fortune Minerals to stop, but said they will not listen. So, she and her tribe will fight them legally.

Canadian Mining Companies

This Supreme Court ruling means that Canadian mining companies, looking to start mining projects on First Nations land, may have to look elsewhere. The Tahlton tribe has already hired a lawyer to prepare their claim to receive the same recognition that the Tsilhqot’in was granted from the Supreme Court. Since it has been ruled in favor of the Tsilhqot’in tribe, it is likely that more tribes will win recognition for their land as well.

However, this will not restrict mining companies from starting projects on all First Nations land in Canada. The Tahlton are negotiating with Imperial Metals for an agreement on the Red Chris Mine. It is scheduled for commissioning in August. The tribes are not looking to put a stop to all mining on their land, but simply wish to be able to govern their own region. The First Nations people have been empowered to express their needs with this ruling. Canadian mining companies, who currently have mines on First Nations land, might want to negotiate with the tribes to avoid future problems.

Renewable Energy for Mines

renewable energy for minesRenewable Energy for Mines : Alternate Resources to Power the Mine

Generally, the mining industry relies on diesel fuel. Diesel fuel can be shipped through supply lines, which are thousands of kilometers long. Another way for it to be shipped is to have it flown in; however, that essentially burns more energy via shipping.

More Than One Power Source Needed

Diavik Diamond Mining, from 2001 to 2012, was relying solely on diesel to generate power for their arctic mine. It cost approximately 70 million dollars every year for 50 million liters of diesel, which had to be delivered over an ice road. In 2006, they experienced a problem with the delivery of their diesel fuel. The ice road was constructed late, melted too early and never reached the weight capacity necessary. That year, Diavik had to have several million liters of fuel flown in. This showed the company that having one source for fuel was not ideal. It was time to search out alternative energy sources.

Alternative Energy Options for Mines

Solar power was not an option, because the location does not get enough sun. They decided to do some meteorological tests with a tower to see if using wind turbines was an option. They determined it was realistic. They found that a wind farm with four wind turbines would supply 10% of the mine’s energy. However, the turbines had to be ramped up to deal with the mine location’s harsh weather. Each wind turbine at this mine is 100 meters high with three 33 meter epoxy-resin blades. The blades were specially designed with de-icing technology, so they can take on temperatures as cold as negative 40 degrees Celsius. These blades created a new way to naturally generate power in very cold climates.

Wind Turbines Supply Energy to Mines

This wind farm generated 8.5% of the mine’s power in 2013 and 11.2% of the mine’s power the first quarter of 2014. Last year, this saved the company 5 million dollars in diesel fuel, which is 3.8 million liters. Additionally, this reduced the load on the ice road by about 75 loads. The 31 million dollar Diavik Diamond Mining Company invested in the turbine farm will pay for itself in eight years.

They were able to use the power generated by the wind turbines starting in September of 2012. Some adjustments did have to be made due to the extreme weather. The defrosting technology needed an adjustment after the blades started to get a buildup of frost on them. This was replaced and the base of the tower and the nacelle were both retrofitted with heaters to keep the frost away.

The amazing thing here is that Diavik Diamond Mining did all of the assembly themselves. They learned everything they needed to know to put the wind farm together and to maintain it. That is an advantage for them, because if anything goes wrong, such as frost building up on the blades of the turbines, they can fix the problem themselves.

Why Canada is a Hub for World Mining Companies

Why Canada is a Hub for World Mining CompaniesWhy Canada is a Hub for World Mining Companies

You cannot deny the ever increasing growth in the Canadian mining industry. At this moment, almost 80% of the world’s mining organizations are headquartered in Canada, making it one of the biggest mining hubs in the world.  Even despite massive investments in Africa from competitor countries like China, Canada remains the most dominant force in the African mining sector. More than 1300 firms carrying operations in Africa and Asia are Canadian-based, making the industry the biggest mining network in the world.

According to a Mining Exploration of Canada report, there are about 1200 exploration companies in the Vancouver area, while the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) lists 58% of the world’s public mining companies. Vancouver is the top destination for mining exploration, with the top mining companies headquartered there. Toronto has become the global hub for mining financing, with the TSX and TSX Venture exchanges accounting for $12.5 billion, or 40% of global mining equity capital, according to the report.

 A few key points to know about Canada:

  • Exploration spending is at $3.9 billion
  • Mineral production is at $50.3 billion
  • Mining companies export $101.9 billion of mineral resources
  • The industry employed 320,000 people in 2011

The favorable investment conditions provided by the Toronto Stock Exchange, for investors and for mining entrepreneurs, is one of the primary reasons Canada is such a lucrative country for mining companies. Along with favorable tax regulations, the government provides financial assistance to the industry in the form of tax credits.

Another reason the mining sector of Canada is growing rapidly is the concentration of expertise in the resource industry. Being one of the oldest and most developed sectors in the world, Canada’s skilled workers range from geoscientists to miners, who operate advanced technology. This has largely facilitated the growth of domestic, as well as foreign mining industries, which are headquartered in Canada.

When talking about the massive growth of the Canadian mining industry, you cannot ignore the support and active role of the Government. The government has been active through financial incentives. Also, it has been facilitating trade agreements between countries to make it easier for Canadian mining companies to do business in resource-rich areas. Moreover, the government is providing equal opportunities to foreign mining firms; another very attractive factor for foreign mining companies to come to Canada.

In the last few years, the Canadian government has been working hard to reduce any political and economic risks taken by mining companies. They have done so by negotiating trade agreements and by building political capital in resource-rich countries, which allows exploration companies to invest in operations in these countries.

The strength of the Canadian mining industry lies in connected pillars:  reserves, prices, financing, exploration and capital investment.  With global resource prices rising, they help drive exploration and capital investment. This in turn leads to companies looking for suitable financing to back them. Government grants and funding in infrastructure help with mineral exploration, which increases opportunities for extraction.  

Canadian Mining Reducing its Environmental Impact

Canadian Mining Reducing its Environmental ImpactCanadian Mining Reducing its Environmental Impact

Over the past few decades, the Canadian mining industry has grown significantly. Canada has emerged as one of the leading mining industries in the world. The mining industry plays an excellent role by helping to support the economy of the country. However, when you look at mining from a global perspective, it has consequently been a major threat to environmental safety. Several steps can be taken in order to reduce waste and environmental impact during mining operations.

Various initiatives are currently under progress. They are working to decrease waste rock. One of these initiatives is the rock selection process, which is still being tested by geo-scientists. Explosive-free breaking is another initiative option. If successful, this will enable mining operators to selectively choose the rocks they want to break. Then, they could safely break those chosen rocks away without risking collateral damage to the surrounding environment.

Mines that are located near water can do considerable harm to the surface water by polluting it. Although the mining companies do abide by federal laws, it still does not solve the issue completely. One example of this case is from the Northland Pyrite Mine located in Canada. The nearby fresh surface water is turning acidic due to mining activities, which occur on a regular basis. As a preventative measure, they could consider removing the water and storing it. Of course, the water should be immediately released once the mine is closed. This may prove to be an expensive measure. Unfortunately, some companies might have trouble affording it. In such cases, acid mine drainage can also be a viable option.

Also, there is the excessive consumption of energy and greenhouse gases. This stands as a leading issue, which is faced by the mining industry. In this regard, the efforts of CANMET-MMSL certainly deserve some positive recognition. CANMET-MMSL is a manufacturer in Canada that introduced the world’s first ever hybrid loader. The vehicle, which is currently in its testing phase, will operate underground and present a low energy solution to the mining industry. This technology has the potential to replace high energy consuming vehicles, which are currently used throughout the world for mining.

There are many organizations in the industry that are making great efforts towards creating advanced technologies, which can help decrease energy consumption in mining operations. Given its importance to the mining industry, Canada is not too far behind in this race and is making constant efforts to improve overall environmental safety.