Sudbury

Sudbury company Hard-Line expanding remote mining technology

A technology company based in Sudbury, Ont., is working to expand the distance between a worker and the mining equipment they are operating.
A remote mining control station, like this one, was used in Australia to move a scoop in a mine in Sudbury on Wednesday. (Supplied/Hard-Line)

A technology company based in Sudbury, Ont., is working to expand the distance between a worker and the mining equipment they are operating.

On Wednesday night, an operator with Murray Engineering in Australia moved a scoop at the NORCAT Underground Training Centre in Sudbury. The two areas are 17,864 kilometres apart.

"A lot of people didn't think this was possible, but that's what we do," Gabriel Janakaraj, the vice president of special projects with Hard-Line, the company behind the project said.

"Right now, this is the furthest. We've done Vancouver to Sudbury. We've done Las Vegas to Sudbury and now we've done Australia to Sudbury."

Janakaraj says the technology is already being used in Ontario, but at a much shorter distance, including Goldcorp's Musselwhite mine which is about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Gabriel Janakaraj is the vice president of special projects at Hard-Line. (Supplied/Hard-Line)

"A lot of operators would have to fly in and live the camp life," he said.

"Now we actually have the ability with proven technology to have these operators in an urbanized centre, still controlling the equipment just as they were on the machine."

He adds the technology allows companies to get more usage out of the underground equipment.

"An employee comes to work and he's moving the machine. He's not suiting up, not putting on his personal protective gear, not waiting for the cage, not traveling underground and then walking to the machine and vice versa," he said.

Janakaraj says the technology uses a secure internet line and that there are encryption on both ends to prevent someone from hacking in to access the machines.

With files from Angela Gemmill

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