Electric solutions for cleaner mining

With Sandvik DD422iE electric jumbo, mining companies like Goldcorp can achieve cleaner and healthier mining environments, while delivering cost-effective production.

Three workers at Goldcorp's mine in Borden Lake, Canada (photo)

Goldcorp’s mine in Borden Lake, Canada is the world’s first all-electric underground mine, an ambitious project the company hopes will inspire an industry-wide shift to more sustainable mining.

Leading gold producer Goldcorp has an ambitious project underway to build one of the world’s first all-electric mines. Building and running a sustainable mine that is invisible and silent, is essential for the company, with its latest project located by the pristine Borden Lake in Ontario, Canada.

Once commercial production is underway, the underground mine is expected to not only help minimize the community and environmental impact from mining, but also improve health and safety for employees – all while boosting Goldcorp’s bottom line.

“We knew that we had to create a mine in close collaboration and coexistence with our local stakeholders,” says Goldcorp’s senior project engineer Maarten van Koppen. “It was very important to us to minimize all sources of emission, whether it’s noise, dust or other pollutants. Going electric really helped in achieving those goals.”

Cutting edge

Sandvik has provided DD422iE electric mining jumbos for the mine, which produces zero emissions. Reducing the use of diesel-powered equipment underground leads to a positive impact on environment, health and safety as well as helps to reduce the need for ventilation in the mines. The electric jumbos are connected to the grid at Borden to ensure they are constantly charged during drilling.

Miner Randy Harrison is behind the controls of a Sandvik DD422iE unit that Goldcorp depends on to develop Borden’s access ramp. “The computer setup and the preciseness that you can get on the face make it the best jumbo around,” says Harrison, who’s operated development drills since 1989. “Sandvik has been on the cutting edge right from day one since I started operating them.”

The jumbo, he says, enables better accuracy, more control, and consistency from crew to crew. “We manage the profile better and have less overbreak. It allows us to optimize the drilling pattern. Our holes are higher quality.”

Substantial savings

By eliminating diesel underground and fully electrifying Borden, Goldcorp anticipates a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and annual savings of 2 million liters of diesel fuel and 1 million liters of propane. The company also expects to save 35,000 megawatt hours of electricity yearly, due in large part to drastically reduced ventilation needs.

Goldcorp hopes that this project will inspire an industry-wide shift to more sustainable mining. “The battery technology advancements really enable us to go fully electric,” says Borden project manager Luc Joncas. “Not only do we plan to prove to the industry it’s possible, we’re keen to prove that it will be cost effective and bring even more value to our shareholders than a conventional mine. We believe electrifying Borden makes sense economically, environmentally and socially.”