New funding for mining innovation and testing centre
Deep underground in Onaping Falls, outside Sudbury, companies from arou8nd the world use the NORCAT testing facility to develop and test new mining prototypes.
"The spectrum is quite broad, we have everything from autonomous tele-remote vehicles, where the operator can sit off site and operate a piece of equipment, to sophisticated Wi-Fi, advanced materials, and new piping infrastructure." said NORCAT’s CEO, Don Duval.
The problem is that the centre can't keep up with global demand from companies who want to use the facility.
"Now demand has exceeded capacity. So we need to activate 3 new operating drifts, by providing the right infrastructure, electricity, water, air, we need to increase surface operations. So that mining companies can sit down and have meaningful conversations in an office environment.” Duval said.
To meet that need, the federal and provincial governments are making a million dollar investment in the underground testing facility in Onaping Falls.
"That is the important part, how can we get more countries, more businesses, to come and settle here and look at expanding their businesses and this is good for the small to medium sized businesses all across Northern Ontario and Greater Sudbury, so that we can export equipment and expertise all over the world." said Nickel Belt MP, Marc Serre.
Sudbury’s MP, Paul Lefebvre, agrees that this investment is key to keeping international companies heading to Northern Ontario.
"This is to improve and maintain the facility, the only type of facility we have in the world to actually test out mining equipment, underground in a live mine. Nobody else does that in the world, this is key to Sudbury and Northern Ontario so this will maintain and expand the space we have." said Lefebvre.
Officials with NORCAT say this investment will secure the centre as the world's “one stop shop” for mining innovation.