May 2013

The best in new technology

Compiled by Herb Mathisen

◢ Light headed

The Explosion-Proof Dual Function Headlight, designed by Larson Electronics, is setting itself up to become the next generation in headlamps. The light-weight headlights are class 1-, division 1-approved, meaning they are certified for use in explosive environments. “It’s small enough that you can actually roll it up and shove it in your pocket when you’re done,” says Rob Bresnahan, co-owner of Larson Electronics. The lights run on AAA-batteries and have a runtime of between 13.5 and 18 hours, eliminating the battery pack and cable required with traditional halogen bulb headlamps. The LED headlight requires no maintenance, and it has a total expected life of 50,000 hours. The light can also be adjusted from 120 lumens to 70 lumens, depending on the environment where work is taking place. This is particularly useful, says Bresnahan, when working around panel boxes or other reflective material. “You don’t get so much reflection in your face, so it makes it easier to work.”

◢ Quick and easy 3D

Geologists can save valuable time when building mineral deposit models or grade shells by using Mintec Inc.’s new MineSight Implicit Modeler. Mark Gabbitus, business development manager, says geologists typically load their drill hole data in two-dimensional (2D) sections before beginning this task. “They work in a 2D section and they make their own interpretation around the drill holes of where they think the ore body is, or where the geology is, and then they link those sections together to make it solid,” he explains. “It’s a very time-consuming process.” While Gabbitus says his company’s product does not reduce the role of, or expertise required from, an experienced geologist, it eliminates much of the manual work. “What the Implicit Modeler does is it uses a mathematical function – a radial basis function – and that takes the raw data and builds a surface in three dimensions directly from the drill holes and some user points,” he says. “It can save a geologist months of time.” During exploration work, companies conducting wide-spaced drilling programs can also use the program to determine where to drill next.

◢ More breathing room

ABC Industries Inc.’s new TruOval MineVent ducting has been designed to increase headroom and reduce failure points for underground mining ventilation systems. Unlike many other ducting systems on the market, the company does not use solid centre panels to hold the oval lay-flat blower ducting open. Will Linnemeier, vice-president of sales, says panels cause air turbulence within ducts and create potential for rips. “We actually use a cable system so that there are no failure points with our product,” he notes. “The entire inside of the duct is open, so you don’t restrict the airflow and you’ve got better air movement throughout the length of the duct. The fittings are a lot smaller and easier to handle as well.” The Indiana-based company can configure its duct diameter sizes from 18 inches up to 66 inches. The ducting, used in development tunnels and stopes, is made of a high-strength PVC fabric that the company manufactures itself. The product is already in use at hard rock mines in Nevada.

Hands-free drilling

Launched in March, Boart Longyear’s LF120A Surface Drill Rig allows operators to handle rods remotely from a control panel as far as 15 feet away. Rod handling usually means manually placing rods in a chuck, says Sid Gaitonde, global product manager for surface coring drills. “There are a lot of moving parts around and inevitably somebody gets hurt. We wanted to get away from that.” Boart Longyear’s new system also has a PC-controlled drill monitor with an LCD touch screen that will alert operators if a valve is not operating properly, making troubleshooting easy. And it lets supervisors plug in minimum and maximum RPM and torque parameters to guide inexperienced drillers. This optimizes drilling and, consequently, saves fuel. “It really adjusts to the drilling conditions, so the engine is not always running at high RPMs, pumping the maximum horsepower,” says Gaitonde. The LF120A can drill to dry depths of 1,200 metres and since the engine is completely enclosed, noise is reduced to 76 decibels from conventional drilling levels of 93 decibels.

◢ Remote energy

Volts Energies wants to help exploration companies that operate off the grid reduce their fuel costs. The Quebec-based company has been building custom generators for exploration companies so they can recoup and reuse the heat generators emit. This co-generation captures energy typically lost from a generator to heat a building or water. “Usually a generator is around 34-per-cent efficient and we can get up to over 80 per cent efficiency,” says Sébastien Caron, company president. The company does energy efficiency audits to monitor how a client uses energy and also to gauge its needs. Caron says they specialize in off-grid hybrid systems by using renewable energy like windmills and photovoltaic panels to produce electricity, along with diesel generators. He says their hybrid model is fairly unique, since most energy consultants side either with generators or renewables. “One says, ‘Do not use generators, they pollute too much,’ and the other says, ‘Solar power is not good enough, it won’t give you enough energy.’ The best thing to do is to combine both.”

◢ Productivity monitors

Geovia released its InSite 4.3 software in mid-March, giving geologists, engineers and management the ability to monitor operations and processing productivity. This latest version has enhanced variance analysis, letting customers discover what is causing actual production to deviate from planned targets. “A large part of our focus recently has been related to the variance analysis,” says Marni Rabassó, vice-president of product management. When companies understand where differences between goals and reality occur, they can reconcile them, and Rabassó adds the program can cut reconciliation work down from weeks to mere days. “What you want to do with that information is update your plans to make them more realistic or more optimal,” she says. “You can use the information about what’s happened in the past to plan or to improve the production planning so that you get more predictive plans, so you can actually hit your production targets the next go around.” InSite 4.3’s user-interface runs through a web browser and can connect to automated fleet dispatch systems for data collection. Mines without such systems can still use InSite 4.3, as it also allows for manual data entry.

Stacking up the time savings

Superior Industries’ revamped Swing Axle Telestacker Conveyor can cut down set-up times associated with transporting or moving stacker conveyors by as much as 80 per cent. Traditionally, converting a conveyor for transport meant installing multiple sprockets and power travel chains – steps that could take as long as 30 minutes to complete. Superior Industries has eliminated the use of chains and sprockets, and power travel can now be engaged by simply using a pre-installed t-handle mechanism. “We updated the design to eliminate more than 45 minutes from the set-up of this style of radial stacker,” says Corey Poppe, marketing manager. Some companies, Poppe says, move their conveyors on a monthly or a weekly basis and the improved design lets them do this in just five to 10 minutes. It also allows customers to align their tires more effectively, which reduces scuffing.


Field laboratory

By using Spectro’s new portable Spectroscout XRF Analyzer, exploration geologists are able to acquire laboratory-grade mineral analysis while they work in remote locations. This avoids the weeks-long task of sending samples to a lab for analysis. The portable XRF analyzer gives geologists sample results in 10 seconds and can measure for elements ranging from sodium to uranium on the periodic table. In the field, the device can reveal elements that are typically present in certain concentrations around coveted deposits. The analyzer, which weighs roughly 12 kilograms and can be carried with a shoulder strap, has a battery life of five to six hours and can even be powered using a vehicle’s 12-volt power outlet. It has a weather-resistant, rugged design and is fully contained with no external computers or other devices required. The company also makes an analyzer focused on examining soil compositions, which is useful for remediation work.



Rock ripper 

Designed in Spain by Xcentric Ripper, the product of the same name uses a patented impact vibration accumulation technology to break rock at a single point of contact. The ripper is attached to the end of an excavator, allowing workers to use it to break rock on steep slopes. “It vibrates through to the tip of the unit and basically allows it to penetrate and then shake apart any of the surrounding areas,” says Tyler Schell, territory manager with Shearforce Equipment – the product’s North American distributor. The ripper is used at a gold mine near Kamloops, B.C., where it breaks extremely hard frost and glacial till material. Schell says before using the Xcentric Ripper, the company tried to break the material with an excavator dig bucket and it could barely scratch the surface. The ripper is a closed system that uses bio-rated fuels and, because it does not leak or weep oil, it can run under water.


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