Mining and exploration review north of the 60th parallel

Partners in Development – GKM Consultants is proud to take part in the development of mining operation and expansion projects

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In partnership with Geokon Inc., the world leader in Vibrating Wire Technology, GKM provides geotechnical instrumentation solutions and integration services for tailings dike monitoring, open-pits and slope stability, underground rock mass deformation, and paste filling.

With professional achievements in more than 15 countries, GKM has the knowledge and expertise to offer a full range of services, which includes consulting, design work, detailed engineering, installation, integration, instrumentation project management, and a turnkey training program.

GKM Consultants is proud to take part in the development of mining operation and expansion projects such as Meadowbank Agnico Eagle Mine, Nunavut; Raglan Mine Glencore Xstrata, Nunavik; Snap Lake De Beers, Yellowknife; Selwin Chihong Mines, Yukon; Mont Wright Accelor Mital Fermont; Lac Du Bonet Tanco Mine, Manitoba; and most recently Jansen and Mosaic Potash mines in Sasktachewan.

Over the past few years, the number of potash mining projects has increased substantially. The province of Saskatchewan is the world’s largest potash producer. BHP Billiton’s Jansen Mine is currently sinking two shafts through clayey material in an area approximately 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon. The potash deposit is approximately 1.10 kilometres underground along with deposits of Halite, Sylvinite, and Carnallitite.

GKM was initially appointed for the implementation of a relatively small-scale remote monitoring system, but its role has recently grown to include full-time on-site assistance. GKM’s tasks include the supply and commissioning of various sensors, the design and installation of a data acquisition system, and the configuration of data visualization software for on-line data presentation.

To monitor the mine shaft’s behaviour under general excavation procedures, sensors are installed in identical sections to provide a reliable profile of the developing ground stresses and shaft deformation. The New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) adopted by the designer needed to be adapted for vertical excavation through the frozen upper soil layers and the shale stone below. The multipoint borehole extensometers installed to monitor the convergence of the shaft walls were custom designed to accommodate the particularities of the excavation methods, and the temperature sensor spacing was tailored to suit the designer’s needs for providing the most accurate ground temperature profile. This vast number of instruments also include NATM pressure cells and strain gauges installed at the ground shotcrete interface.

Sensor arrays are connected to a compact data acquisition system (DAS) designed to withstand the adverse conditions in a mine shaft. Each data acquisition system is hardwired to the surface where the data is sent via a cellular network to GKM’s data-hosting service, which allows for real-time monitoring displayed through a web-based database management and publishing tool.

Full-time on-site assistance has allowed GKM to accommodate the ever-changing needs of both the designer and contractor and to accurately measure the key geotechnical parameters that can influence the shaft design as well as worker safety and ensure the monitoring solution remains 100 per cent relevant throughout the duration of the project.

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