Caterpillar, Champion Iron partner for advanced drilling technologies

By |  August 17, 2021

Logo: Caterpillar

Champion Iron signed a letter of intent with Caterpillar to implement artificial intelligence-based advanced drilling technology on Cat equipment at its Bloom Lake Mine.

Montréal-based Champion will provide its workforce while Cat’s independent dealer, Toromont Cat, will provide its aftermarket support. This grouping aims to optimize operational productivity and reduce energy consumption at Champion-owned and -operated Bloom Lake near Fermont, Québec, Canada.

According to Champion, Bloom Lake is an open-pit truck and shovel operation with a concentrator. It ships iron ore concentrate from the site by rail to a ship-loading port in Sept-Îles, Québec.

Champion says the goal of the partnership is to deliver a fully-integrated drill-to-mine technology solution to improve workflow between the mine and plant. This will, in turn, provide a more efficient end-to-end enterprise process that delivers more consistent raw material for final product-specification requirements.

Cat will use real-time data, AI and analytics to support Champion’s ability to assess the status of machines, technologies and material to enable more timely and accurate operational decisions and consistent execution across Champion’s entire mining value chain.

“We are honored to collaborate with industry leaders like Caterpillar and Toromont Cat, and are confident that our workforce’s proven operational expertise and ingenuity will be an asset in deploying these technologies,” says David Cataford, Champion CEO. “The aim and vision of improving mining practices and, ultimately, reducing waste and energy use is the foundation of this collaboration.”

This partnership will also demonstrate the capabilities of Cat’s advanced drilling technologies and work toward implementing a remote-controlled, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous Cat electric drilling fleet.

According to Champion, a drill-to-mine strategy is expected to be deployed based on a series of tightly integrated systems. It is designed to optimize the drilling, loading and hauling process. Drill-to-mine supplies optimize mill feed while contending with dynamic operational conditions.

“The entire Bloom Lake team has already demonstrated its ability to operate at a consistently high level since commissioning the mine in 2018,” Cataford says. “In doing so, we have continuously strived to improve operations, utilizing the best existing and new prospective mining technologies. Drill-to-mill aligns with our core values of respecting the land that we exploit, as it will enable us to responsibly extract non-renewable resources using the best means possible.”

Along with owning and operating Bloom Lake Mine through its subsidiary, Québec Iron Ore, Champion controls a portfolio of exploration and development projects in the Labrador Trough. These include the Kamistiatusset iron ore project just southeast of Bloom Lake and the Consolidated Fire Lake North iron ore project located about 40 km south of Bloom Lake.

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