One must admire NIOSH. The quality of their technical work is impressive and the clarity of their conference presentations outstanding. This afternoon in the CIM technical session Innovative Mining Technology, we enjoyed presentations from NIOSH staff on underhand cut-and-fill mining, new support concepts for hard rock mines, dust control for mines, and characterization of nonometer and untrafine diesel aerosols in underground mines. Each was better than the last: chock full of intelligent thought, analysis, data, and useful information. All I can say is if any of these topics is of interest to you, get their papers via a CIM CD, or go to the NIOSH website and get the full reports. Your time will be well rewarded.
Archive for April, 2007
How does one make sence of an exhibition hall larger than a football field? I suppose you walk fast and find those companies that supply products and services you need. I started out doing this, until I came across an area marked out “South Africa.” Within a few minutes my American accent subsided and my African sound resurfaced. I chatted to the many people from South Africa who are promoting their products for the first time in North America. Here is a quick rundown on some:
The CIM is to be complimented on organizing an intelligent and informative plenary session to open this year’s conference in Montreal. Here is my first, brief report on this session—compiled from notes taken during the talks, and hence not always comprehensive or collated. The theme of the plenary session was energy and mines and this theme was explored by opening with fascinating talks from the heads of Hydro-Quebec, Thierry Vandal, and from Ultramar, Jean Berniere, both of which supply energy to Quebec mines. They were followed Chris Jones of Albian Sands, Ian Pearce of Xstrata, Eberhard Scherkus of Agnico-Eagle Mines, and Dave Neuberger of Cameco.
Iowa spring warmth made for a perfect weekend: I took the grandkids to the Belle Plaine park where we played on the weir as I tried to explain hydraulic jump. They thought I was crazy going on about energy changes in flowing water. So I lapsed into silence as they played on the swings and slides, and instead I thought about the formulae for tile drains. The local fields are replete with tile drains that are needed to keep the lands from flooding when three and a half inches of precipitation falls in twenty four hours. I wondered about the applicability of tile drain formula to the analysis of the regional water table drawdown by a series of deep underground mines. But I did not complete the mind evaluation for they got hungry and we repaired to the local fried chicken shack and ate over-cooked meat and mashed potatoes.
That evening we watched Happy Feet, a seemingly silly movie about a dancing penguin. Again I got the kids wondering at my sanity as I tried to expound on the social, religious, and environmental commentary that is strong a theme of this otherwise kids’ movie. My son-in-law was pushed to remark that I had better blog about resource exploitation and leave the kids to enjoy the movie for Hollywood’s sake. So I had another brandy instead.
The only mining news this week that came to me, came via BBC at the top of the hour on the local NPR radio station. In sober and quasi-analytical style, an English accent reported that Newmont had been found innocent in Indonesia. My heart leapt and I listened intently. The BBC take was that the verdict would be good for business, as it demonstrated that the rule of law still exists in Indonesia. Then the BBC noted that the mine had acted in accordance with local laws and that there was no evidence of contamination as a result of their actions. The BBC did imply that former rulers of the country had benefited from relations with the mine and vise versa. The BBC also noted that the environmental groups that first prompted the law suite were planning to bring others based on similar facts—but the radio gave no specifics.
The Madison Dialogue is a website of breathtaking scope and arrogance. Here is how they described themselves:”The Madison Dialogue was launched at a meeting in New York (on Madison Avenue), in August 2006. Participants in that meeting included EARTHWORKS, WWF, Partnership Africa Canada, Tiffany & Co. Foundation, The Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices (CRJP), the Diamond Development Initiative, Jewelers of America, Conservation International, Leber Jewelers and others.” They want to” “promote communication and collaboration among companies, civil society groups and others seeking to encourage: best practices; sustainable economic development; and verified sources of responsible gold, diamonds and other minerals.” Participants in the Madison Dialogue are working on a number of initiatives to promote sustainable development, best practice, and certification or assurance in the sector. These include the Kimberly Process, the Diamond Development Initiative, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, and efforts to certify fair-trade gold, diamonds and other minerals.
In a recent newsletter from InfoMine I wrote “This blog posting explores the role of passion, politics, law, and powerful men in opening new mines and stopping mine development in it tracks.” In short order, a correspondent took me to task for “alienating potential readers with an opening statement that suggests that only men hold any power in the industry.”
I replied: “I can only think you may be referring to something I wrote about Pebble Mine. If that is the case, my explanation is the light I try to shine on the negative side of the behavior of those involved. It is trite to approach a defense of any statement by pointing out where one has celebrated achievements, but please take a look at my many writings and I hope you will agree that I am trying to celebrate the achievements of all in mining, while keeping an eye on the foolish, pompous, and destructive. And if those terms apply more often to men than women (and I suspect they do) then that is the way the diamond is cut.”
Most underground mines involve ventilation systems. You need to push cool surface air down into those hot, deep workings to keep them cool. The right temperature in underground mine workings is not only a matter of pleasant surroundings. I recall reading that the accident rate jumps as the temperature increases: at about seventy degrees things are optimally safe, at eighty degrees the accident rate soars. Ventilation systems are needed because the rocks are hot from the heat generated by radioactive processes deep in the earth’s interior. Now professors from the University of British Columbia (UBC) are looking at tapping into the heat from closed underground mines. They reckon this is a cheap source of energy for those dwellings and businesses that remain behind after the mine is shut down. Now that is sustainable development for you: first a mine and then a solarium, or should we call it a heatarium or mine-arium?
No recommendations or endorsements implied in this posting. But it is information that attracts my attention and it is information that may benefit a mine somewhere, so I pass it on. Keep in mind I am a semi-retired professional engineer and produce this blog on the basis that I write what interests me, not what may be of commercial benefit. But I am human and cannot be interested in something if it does not come to my attention; the service I write of here came via an unsolicited e-mail.
I do not thinks there is anything wrong or inappropriate about the facts I cite in this article. My Canadian friends bewail the fact that the United States is an imperial power, colonizing smaller nations and exploiting their resources. They deny that Canada is as imperial a colonizer as any. Consider Canadian ownership of United States mines.