Canada’s Clean Growth Program Invests in Borden Project
The mining industry has traditionally been slow to adopt innovation. The 21st-century economy, however, dominated by emerging technologies like electric vehicles, green energy sources and ever-more advanced mobile devices, is demanding creative approaches to efficiently delivering the raw materials that will fuel modern life.
Canadian mining is seeing a real drive to innovate that is strengthening our ability to get materials to global markets as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. And it’s changing what it means to work in mining.
New technologies are enabling workers to make quicker, more informed decisions at the front lines of operations. Advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning are giving geologists more options and the data to understand existing deposits differently, along with tools to make new discoveries. Increased automation is removing employees from the riskiest parts of the mine, making our mines safer as we strive for zero harm in the workplace.
As technology enables mining professionals to do their jobs faster, more accurately and away from underground operational risks, ultimately creating a safer work environment, we will require the skills to build and maintain the modern infrastructure that supports new, advanced mines.
Mine of the Future
In early November 2018, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, together with Parliamentary Secretary Paul Lefebvre, announced plans for the Government of Canada to invest $5 million to help position Goldcorp’s Borden Project as a mine of the future — producing ore in a more environmentally sustainable way.
The Borden Project will be the first underground mine in Canada to replace all diesel mobile equipment with battery electric vehicles. Additionally, the project brings significant environmental benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to create approximately 250 jobs for local and Indigenous communities.
Low Carbon Production
Borden’s battery and electric mobile equipment will eliminate all Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) associated with the movement of ore and waste rock (equal to roughly 50 per cent of the total GHGs on site) and significantly reduce maintenance and energy costs. By adopting clean technologies, the mine is expected to also eliminate more than 7,500 tonnes of CO2, three million litres of diesel fuel, one million litres of propane and 35,000-megawatt hours of electricity each year.
The development by Goldcorp of its Borden mine recognizes that without proper care of the environment, mining companies cannot operate successfully and must be more than just economically profitable in the short-term. Success should be based on many factors that have to be sustained throughout the mine life-cycle, from exploration through to mine closure. As Canada’s first all-electric underground gold mine, Borden will be safer for workers and have a smaller environmental footprint.
Partnering for Success
Transformation of long-accepted mining practices can’t be achieved by mining companies alone. Collaboration is essential to ensure the efficient use of resources and expertise. Partnerships are a critical part of ensuring there is a consistent vision will help drive innovative and sustainable change that benefits all parties.
“We believe the days of diesel use for underground mining equipment are numbered and electrification of our mobile fleet is a logical way to significantly reduce the mine’s environmental footprint,” said David Garofalo, Goldcorp’s President and CEO. “We are partnering with like-minded technology suppliers like Maclean Engineering and Sandvik, provincial and federal governments and First Nations to commercialize clean technologies, improve health and safety performance, and reduce GHG emissions with the aim of improving the viability, sustainability and profitability of our mines. It’s gratifying to see multiple levels of government support innovation and our vision of a safer, greener mining industry.”
Borden is a key part of Goldcorp’s plan to increase production by 20% by 2021 and is expected to begin commercial production in the second half of 2019.
The project will benefit from funding by Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, which is a $155 million investment fund for clean technology research and development and demonstration projects in three Canadian sectors: energy, mining and forestry.
“Improved environmental performance in Canada’s mining sector is one of the key paths to a low-carbon economy,” said the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, during his visit to Borden for the announcement. “This project helps advance clean technologies to commercial readiness, creates good middle-class jobs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It really is a win-win-win situation – for the company, for local communities and for Canada.”
Borden will rely on digital and smart controls to maximize equipment use for continuous mining and plans to utilize renewable energy, such as biomass, for heating. Goldcorp is hopeful that demonstrating the numerous benefits of an all-electric site will be an example of leadership in innovation, clean technologies, and health and safety that will be adopted by other mining companies.
Goldcorp has successfully spurred innovation further in the mining sector through its #DisruptMining challenge and has invested over $10 million in a range of start-ups and new technologies in the past two years. #DisruptMining, which takes place in March 2019, offers entrepreneurs a platform to bring disruptive and exponential technologies to the sector, whether it’s unlocking exploration opportunities; finding operational and production efficiencies; reducing the environmental footprint and delivering on sustainability commitments; or developing alternative ways to finance capital projects. Innovators pitch their ideas at the #DisruptMining innovation expo and “shark-tank” style live event, which connects more than 500 mining executives, investors, financiers, and entrepreneurs looking to tackle the industry’s challenges.
Natural Resources Canada also recently announced an exciting partnership with Goldcorp on the Crush It! mining challenge. Crush It! encourages Canadian innovators to come up with new ways to cut the energy consumption required for crushing and grinding mined rock, reducing environmental impacts and transforming energy savings at the mill. The pitch proposals will be unveiled at the March 2019 #DisruptMining event.
Goldcorp, along with other Canadian mining companies, suppliers and government, are changing the game with industry-wide, collaborative efforts. The mining industry has come a long way, and it’s exciting to see what innovative ideas and solutions may surface and bring further changes and transformation in the sector. With Goldcorp’s focused drive for mining innovation through partnerships, challenging those outside the industry to see what technologies can be applied within mining, we’re looking towards a more sustainable, cleaner and greener future with the mining industry.