Superior, Ariz., February 24, 2016 — Standing beneath the winter sun of the Arizona desert, a group of nine mining equipment professionals from Quebec recently wrapped up a five-day mining innovation mission. The on-site visit to Resolution Copper, a massive deposit expected to provide 25% of Americans' need for copper over a 40-year period, was an opportunity to present advanced technologies and innovations developed in Quebec. The region's expertise is increasingly sought after as the quest for minerals leads the mining industry to more remote and deeper deposits.
From left to right: Marc Lamothe, Meglab; Ivan Lecours, Radiateur JMT; Robert Lamarre, IMAFS: Guy Lefebvre, Technosub; Guillaume Julien, CMAC-Thyssen; Ray Dufour, Zetec Technology; André Zagaj, Zetec Technology; Claude Thibault, 48e Nord International; Éric Beaupré, Technosub
Running February 21 - 25, the mission was co-organized by the Québec Trade Office in Silicon Valley and 48e International Nord, the economic development organization serving the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. The activity was focused primarily on the , the SME Annual Conference & Expolargest annual mining industry event in the U.S. The 2016 edition, which took place in Phoenix, attracted over 600 exhibitors and 7000 visitors.
The conference program featured 120 technical sessions covering topics on mining and exploration, industrial minerals and aggregates, mineral processing and metallurgy, health and safety, environmental protection and energy. The event is organized every year by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME), the leading mining industry association in the U.S., with a membership that includes over 15,000 company executives, engineers, geologists and other industry professionals.
Participating Québec companies in the mining innovation mission included CMAC-Thyssen, IMAFS, JMT Radiateur, Meglab, Technosub and Zetec Technology. During their visit to Arizona, participants had the opportunity to hold direct discussions with senior executives from Freeport MacMoRan, the world's number one producer of copper, and from Stantec, a top international consulting engineering firm. The Québec companies also met with Honorary Canadian Consul Glenn Williamson, who serves as well as president of the dynamic Canada Arizona Business Council. In addition to these discussions, officials from the 48e International Nord and the Québec Government met with executive management from the SME, the Arizona Mining Association, the Nevada Mining Association and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), to explore opportunities for future collaborations.
Québec's mining equipment industry enjoys a particularly strong reputation for its expertise in underground mining technologies and in developing solutions for the complexities of extreme environments. The Resolution Copper project, which is operated as a joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, is emblematic of the growing need for these technologies. To access the copper deposit, the company had to construct a 1.3 mile (2.1 kilometer) deep access shaft, the deepest in the United States. The project will be the first major underground mining operation in Arizona in decades, and its success will largely depend on safe, efficient, environmentally responsible and cost-effective engineering solutions.
Québec's large cluster of equipment manufacturers reflects the importance of the region's mining industry as a major player in Canada. Québec is home to 21 gold mines, 18 silver mines and 14 copper mines, in addition to the vast Stornaway Renard Diamond project, which in 2016 will begin supplying 2% of the world's demand for diamonds. Québec is also home to important deposits of lithium, graphite and phosphate, key ingredients in electric vehicle batteries, in addition to eight of the world’s 50 highest potential rare-earths projects.
As demand increases for advanced transportation technologies, telecommunications and automation applications, including the increasingly pervasive Internet of Things, Québec is well positioned to be an important source of mission-critical minerals for digital industrialization. In the coming years Québec’s Plan Nord will invest billions of dollars in a massive sustainable development initiative, to more fully harness the mineral, economic, energy, social, cultural and tourism potential of Québec's vast northern territory.