Glencore Onaping Depth project to rely on electric vehicles

Work is progressing on Glencore's Onaping Depth Project, a new ore body deep underground that will replace two other mines coming to the end of production.

A local firm will be supplying some of the many battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that will be used in the deep mining project.

Glencore says the first ore from the project is anticipated in 2024.

“We are in the shaft-sinking phase of the project (and) we should get to the end of July to the first underground station at depth with a total of three stations to develop,” said Peter Xavier, Glencore Vice-President.

"The shaft-sinking portion will take us to about mid next year and then we will start to … basically build the mine."

Onaping Depth is an ore body that was discovered decades ago, located below the former Craig Mine, which closed in 2009.

In developing the project, Glencore will be using new infrastructure to access deeper parts of the ore body. Once development of the shaft begins, the project will be completely powered by BEVs.

“Everything from … drilling to ground support to your mucking and hauling type of equipment," Xavier said.

"Plus all of your ancillary equipment for explosive loading, material loading, personnel movement, graders… When you add up all of those, it's quite a few units."

One of the mobile equipment suppliers is MacLean Engineering. While the vehicles will be manufactured at the company's southern Ontario locations, there will be a large impact on the local economy because the company has a service and support branch just outside of Lively.

Stella Holloway, VP of northern operations of Mclean Engineering, said they employ about 180 people. Locally, they employ people such as field service technicians and trainers.

“Right now we are standing in our Magill facility," Holloway said.

"We have an underground test mine and in this test mine we will have a full-on training program for Glencore. So they’ll be able to send their technicians here to get hands-on experience to battery electric equipment as well as work with some of our product experts on transitioning them over to battery electric equipment."

The project has a budget of $1.3 billion and it’s anticipated that it will provide a significant new source of high-grade nickel ore beyond 2035.

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