For the innovators of Manroc Developments, focusing on specialization makes all the difference
The sophistication of underground mining is greatly underappreciated. This supremely technical work is the product of the best and brightest because anything less than dedication to the art and science of extraction simply means your company won’t be around for very long.
While Ontario’s Manroc Developments has been an industry presence since 1989, they envision and perform like a cutting edge startup, leaning in to collaborate, innovate, and support technological and organizational developments that are making underground mining safer, more profitable, and a more desirable industry to join.
Manroc has carved out a niche as the world leader in raise excavation, which is part of the Alimak mining method. Simply put, Alimak mining is a method developed specifically for excavating narrow veined ore bodies. Manroc leverages innovative methods and equipment to successfully extract previously uneconomic or inaccessible ore reserves while increasing safety, lowering production costs, boosting productivity, and decreasing cycle times for their global clients. When clients are in need of safe, low-cost mining techniques that yield high tonnage and low dilution results, they turn to Manroc.
The Canadian Institute of Mining describes the Alimak method this way: “Alimak mining uses a specialized piece of equipment called a raise climber (or, casually, an “Alimak”) to drive a raise upwards from the bottom level of the stope to the top level, following the dip of the ore body. Eliminating the intervening levels cuts out a good chunk of lateral development time and spending.”
As company VP Katie Simoneau explained, Alimak raise mining may be a particular specialty, but it’s only one of the services they provide. The family owned enterprise specializes in raise development, underground lateral development, longhole stope production drilling and blasting, and underground construction. “We are an overall mining contractor with sites worldwide. We've worked all over the globe from Canada and the States, South and Central America, Africa, and Kazakhstan,” she noted.
Simoneau added, “We love to do overseas jobs because we get to work with different cultures, and we’re able to teach the nationals safe practices, which is what we really pride ourselves on.” Manroc travels with non-negotiable superior safety standards, relishing the opportunity to bring its knowledge to other parts of the world.
Creating bespoke equipment
Manroc operates three manufacturing and fabrication shops to handle Alimak technology, mobile equipment and welding. Their Alimak shop is one of a kind, fabricating 80 percent of our Alimak related gear. The same for modifying supplier products for maximum durability and user-friendliness. “The miners in the industry know that when they come to work for us they’re going to be on the safest gear out there. We pride ourselves on that, and about where we are with the Alimak system today.”
The firm’s mobile shop is outfitted to do full-on rebuilds for any piece of equipment, which is a boon for clients looking for highly specific machinery requirements. “Our mining and mechanical teams work hand-in-hand, so if there’s improvements to be made underground we get together as a group and discuss methods or different ways we can modify or upgrade the machinery. This ensures that the equipment is the safest and most reliable.
The group is currently working with the world’s largest explosives developer, Orica, who invented a wireless blasting system that is revolutionizing the raise mining approach. Manroc used the WebGen technology recently to complete the world’s first wireless Alimak stope blast. Before the wireless system, blast sizes were limited by void constraints. The partnership, Simoneau explained, “(I)mproves the economics of our Alimak system due to the minimized development requirements, and is providing opportunities for delivering improved safety, ore recovery, and cycle times for our clients.
“This new wireless blasting system enables the stope to be loaded all at once and taken in multiple blasts because it's done by Wi-Fi. This eliminates the limitation of void for the stopes that only have a lower access. We are extremely excited and proud to be working with Orica on this.”
They are also collaborating with Sudbury, Ontario-based SafeSight Exploration, specialists in drone, LiDAR, and Imaging Technology on their remote operated camera system for surveying and testing. The Rail Runner allows access to the top of the raise without the miners being exposed, which has enormous potential for face checks and hopefully help with survey and gas checks in the near future.
Simoneau added that a big part of Manroc’s success is their supplier network. “Their willingness to go above and beyond for us to meet or exceed our needs and deadlines is second to none. … The healthy relationship between our suppliers is vital to our success,” she said. These relationships span decades, as does Manroc’s approach to building a warm and relatable culture.
“Nobody is a number here,” she exhorted. “We pride ourselves on that and go the extra mile to have that one on one relationship with our employees and clients. I'm very proud of the team we have at Manroc, as you couldn't ask for better people.”
Manroc Developments Inc. is a leading international underground mining contractor, specializing in Alimak mining. We offer a comprehensive range of underground mining services, to some of the largest mining companies in the world.
Our success over the last 30 years is due to the vast experience of our mining personnel, our cutting edge mining technologies, our increased production rates, and cost-effective methods.
With expertise in narrow vein and Alimak mining, we have become one of the top contractors in North America, leading the way to safer and more productive mining methods.