SUMIT Delivers Results
The SUMIT Program—Smart Underground Monitoring and Integrated Technologies for deep mining was completed in June 2016.
The objective of the SUMIT Program was the development of smart engineering techniques, technologies, tools and knowledge to facilitate step-change advances in productivity, efficiency and energy optimization in underground mining at depth.
Mining Deeper, Safer & More Economically
Understanding and managing rock-mass failure in underground mines is critical to the industry.
A real issue for deep mines is rock mass failure caused by fault slip. This failure is a result of slippage occurring on a fault, caused by a disruption of the stress field in the area of the fault due to a mining process.
SUMIT focused on three challenges associated with deep underground mining.
- Rock mass characterization to “better see into the ground”, anticipate risks and interpret dynamic processes;
- Enhanced mine development for faster mine construction to increase economic returns;
- Sustaining deep mines through energy optimization and underground environmental controls.
SUMIT also enhanced the understanding of energy demand and usage on mine sites and how new energy approaches may be adopted to lower demand, limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce environmental footprints.
A Successful Collaboration
Managed by CEMI, this $6.7 million program was a collaborative R&D initiative.
This six-year collaboration included: academia, a number of SME organizations, Vale, Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations—A Glencore Company, Rio Tinto and the Ontario government.
SUMIT was led by Laurentian University in partnership with Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. University of Waterloo, University of Alberta and Carleton University also made additional research contributions.
Several field programs were executed at 4 active mine sites: Vale’s Coleman & Creighton, Newcrest’s Cadia East and Glencore’s Nickel Rim South.
SUMIT KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT
The SUMIT Collaborations resulted in significant advances in dealing with ground stability-related issues and optimizing energy usage in mines.
Laurentian University Geomechanics Group
- New industry guidelines for the selection of ground support elements in underground mines.
- New software tool to facilitate the selection of optimal ground support; numerical modeling technique to study ground motion distribution and seismic wave propagation around excavations in deep mines.
- A new approach to differentiate how rock mass strength; this can be modeled in low and high confinement conditions.
Laurentian University Energy Group
- New approaches and tools to help optimize energy usage and cost savings on mine sites.
- a. Potential for significant annual energy savings using new energy auditing and flow tracking techniques- 4D Sankey Visualization Tool.
- b. Optimized cooling strategies for natural heat exchange areas using computational fluid dynamics modeling.
- Demonstration of Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) technology that could be used to provide energy efficient and cost effective ways to cool mines (UDMN project).
- New ideas for tools and techniques using geophysics as a proxy to monitor stress distribution; demonstration that borehole geophysical data can provide reliable estimates of stress parameters in underground mines.
- Development of the first dynamic (time variant, time stamped) 3D deep mine model, integrating geology, physical rock properties, infrastructure, production and backfill data.
- Design of a new strain meter with multiple fiber Bragg grating (FBG) segments.
- Fiber optics cable borehole installation methodologies and performance measurement studies to assess the evolving displacement field around mining blocks due to mining.
- Optimized numerical modeling approaches for the design and execution of hydraulic fracturing treatments.
- Advancement and demonstration of techniques for continuum numerical models to replicate rock mass deformation and their ability to replicate actual behaviour observed in-situ.
- An approach to treating LiDAR data and optimizing its use for deformation change detection. The ability to measure changes is important; LiDAR offers the opportunity to cheaply, quickly and easily conduct surveys in underground tunnels. This, together with certain software tools developed through SUMIT, helps to gauge the level of deformation over time.
- An approach to reducing geotechnical assessment uncertainty as a function of the uncertainty associated with conceptual geological models.
Commercialization Outcomes of SUMIT
SUMIT has helped the Canadian and global mining sector find innovative solutions, resulting in commercial outcomes.
The commercial outcomes of SUMIT help to accelerate mine development, reduce risk, improve production capacity and reduce energy consumption.
The commercialization activities include:
- The Geoscience INTEGRATOR, built to provide mine datasets and comprehensive data management for collaborative analysis to help speed up research outcomes, will be released commercially in October 2016.
- Spin-off of a new SME, Electrale Innovation Inc.; and continued business growth of existing partners
- Filing of new patents (11 patents pending) for new products/tools
- Development new software tool facilitating the selection of optimal ground support based on existing or anticipated rock mass conditions for mine designers and mine operators