In the mining field it’s important to develop equipment that gets the job done efficiently, quickly and with little error as possible. And in an industry considered among the most dangerous on the planet, it’s also critical to develop products that can save lives.
That’s just what happened with a MacLean Engineering work platform safety canopy on Sept. 17, 2011, which is credited with possibly saving the lives of two underground hard rock miners. According to a company press release, Bobbie Caissie Jr. and Clayton Kitchkeesick were working a night shift at Musselwhite Mine, 500km north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, loading explosives into the rock from the basket on the MacLean AC3 ANFO Charger when a large slab of rock detached itself from above and fell on the canopy.
If Goldcorp and MacLean Engineering had not joined forces to design and implement this engineered canopy, the workers may have suffered severe or even fatal injuries.
“Prior, there was no canopy,” explains Bill Maki, MacLean’s global product manager, “and operators were exposed.” That’s the nature of rocks, he added: They tend to fall. Following a prior incident, MacLean got together with Goldcorp to devise the canopy system.
“It’s all about working with customers and serving them to solve problems,” Maki says.
Which is why MacLean Engineering prides itself in being at the forefront of safety and productivity, providing the mining industry with quality equipment for more than 40 years. And why its ground support products, such as its bolter, enjoy the same prestige in the mining industry as the Xerox or Kleenex brands do in theirs. The company has more than 1000 units manufactured and delivered to underground mining operations around the world.
A Foundation in Mining
MacLean was founded in 1973 by Don MacLean, who worked in the mines for a time and then for mining equipment suppliers. “During those times he would visit mines and observed that the equipment supplied was not providing the miners what they needed. He thought he could come up with something better for hard rock mining,” Maki relates.
Through MacLean’s ingenuity and observations, his company has grown into the market leader in bolting equipment in Canada, garnering 60 percent of the market. Here, mining activity has ramped up in the last decade hence, the need for such products. Tunneling underground to get to ore means that rock fragments and moves; a bolter places eight-foot-long pieces of steel into the rock, which is then filled with cement that acts to hold the ground up and stabilize the area.
“Don thought there was a safer way to install ground support and created an innovative semi mechanized bolting system,” Maki said.” You don’t want someone working on unsupported ground; prior, all such work had been performed on unsupported ground.”
Today, MacLean Engineering remains a privately owned Canadian company that specializes in the design, manufacture and marketing of high quality mechanized equipment serving worldwide customers in underground mining, utility and municipal sectors. Headquartered in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, the company manufactures its products there as well as two other sites in Owen Sound and Barrie, Ontario. The company also has sales and service presence in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Sudbury, Ontario, Thompson, Manitoba, Creighton, Saskatchewan, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Australia.
Over the years, MacLean Engineering’s commitment to supplying customers with high quality machines designed to operate safely and reliably in extreme environments, along with industry leading customer support and service, has allowed MacLean to work for some of the best customers around.
Among its array of products in this area is the Series 900 scissor bolter, enabling all operations to be carried out from beneath supported ground. The machine is self-propelled, offering a four-wheel-drive articulated carrier. Other features include:
- Electric hydraulic control system with remote drive system;
- Hydraulic positioning, rock drilling/bolting systems;
- Operating protocol that prevents exposure to loose rock hazards;
- Multiple types of bolts that can be installed (rebar, mechanical anchor, friction bolts);
- Long hole drilling capability;
- Proven heavy-duty scissor lift mechanism;
- High capacity storage for bolting supplies;
- 2000 lbs. ( 900 kg) deck payload capacity;
- Forward shifting hydraulic deck.
A significant feature of the MacLean bolting system is the quality of installation. The bolter operator is close to the bolting area allowing him to see the condition of the ground and better positioning of the ground support.
The company also offers the MEMSSB small section bolter for smaller mine openings. The benefits of safety, productivity, versatility and quality of installation combine to provide the ideal tool for the mine development cycle and rehabilitation operations.
MacLean also offers a block holer for dealing with ore flow especially in cave mines, in which gravity dispenses the ore through a connection of funnels and tunnels. Occasionally, however, there might be a problem with chunk of rock blocking the funnel. For this the company makes the rugged BH-3, designed to eliminate ore flow blockages and release trapped reserves in draw points and beyond draw point brows without endangering mine workers. Integrated radio-remote control (RRC) allows tramming, drilling and blasting operations to be conducted from safe distances.
This MacLean machine can be used in any underground mine in which bulk mining activities generate boulders too large to move, carry, drop through grizzlies or dump into crushers. It is most effective where multiple draw points allow ore extraction to continue while block hole operations are conducted.
With the idea to maximize its design and manufacturing strengths, MacLean introduced a series of Mine-Mate™ utility vehicles for service functions that are required in the mining process. These vehicles include scissor lifts, crane trucks, personnel trucks and fuel lube trucks. The Mine-Mate utility vehicles are based on the same carrier for fleet commonality. A long life power train using industry proven components, a clean burning, fuel efficient engine which minimizes harmful emissions and a rugged heavy duty frame all contribute to long life and low operating costs.
In this segment the company offers the SL-3 Scissor Lift which is well suited for installation of ventilation ducting, electrical reticulation, and piping for air and water services. The machine allows rehabilitation projects to be conducted safely and efficiently from a level work deck, elevated to a comfortable work height.
The SL3 scissor lift is also offered with a line of quick change attachments so that utility work can be done on one vehicle, eliminating the need to buy purpose-built equipment. The fan handling attachment allows the operator to safely transport, and manipulate heavy ventilation fans into position. Similarly, the pipe handler has the ability to lift and lower 8” paste filled pipe. Both attachments are operated via radio remote control keeping the operator safe and in control.
Recently, MacLean set out to build on their ground support expertise and developed a shotcrete spraying vehicle. Shotcrete is a wet concrete that is applied to mining tunnels for additional ground support. As with the company’s other vehicles, the SS3 and SS2 shotcrete sprayers feature industry standard components ensuring quality installation and high reliability. To support the shotcrete spraying units, the company also has haulers which transport the shotcrete from surface to the underground workings.
MacLean continues to diversify. To serve customers outside the mining industry, MacLean Engineering’s Diversified Products Division was born. Located in Owen Sound, Ontario, the design and manufacture of the MacLean MV (municipal vehicle) and Kanlan Attachments Series for utility and compact articulating tractors have rapidly gained attention.
Using its experience with mining vehicles, MacLean partnered with Ontario Power Generation to design and build a specialized container carrier. This unique purpose built vehicle features the latest in control technology.
The newest addition to the company is the EKO recycling division, which builds machines to recycle cans and other metal items and presses these into pucks that can be easily transported and disposed.
All this falls under the umbrella of MacLean’s motto, which is “service and support,” not only reflecting its customer service acumen but also its ability to design and manufacture products that both service and support its various market segments. With MacLean’s son, Kevin, now at the helm as president and CEO, MacLean is poised to expand even more, as both a mining mate and a solutions provider.
As Maki says, “We’re in it for the long haul.”