Thyssen Mining – Where Vision and Value Come Together
While Thyssen Mining’s roots date back to the late 1800s in Germany, the company found its way to Canada in the 1960s. Saskatchewan’s potash industry needed help sinking shafts where significant amounts of water were present in geological formations. Thyssen’s expertise in ground freezing was vital for the growing potash sector. Thyssen would establish its Canadian presence in Regina and sink nine mine shafts in its first foray in the country. The company matured into a full-service mining contractor, working in potash, uranium and more, and expanded its footprint across Canada and the United States.
Today, Thyssen Mining is active in mine sites across the Americas and at its core lies the innovative spirit it started with so many decades ago. “Our long history supporting the various commodities has given us a specialized view of the mining sector. We know what it takes to be a leader in providing innovative solutions to the mining industry,” says Dave Speerbrecker, manager of support services at Thyssen. Thyssen’s use of freezing technology—which has been a big part of the company’s success— has helped it to stand out in the marketplace. That original innovation has ensured that Thyssen has embraced other emerging technologies, such as automated drilling and battery-operated equipment, remote controlled equipment operation, and using training aids like simulators to learn and use equipment the best way possible.
Plus, the Thyssen team is always ready to innovate. “Having robust engagement and continued interaction with our workforce is also a key to many successes,” says Speerbrecker. “Strong hiring practices, excellent training, and involving our subject matter experts in the field ensures our goal of providing a safe, healthy and successful project for our teams and our clients.” Over the decades, the company has also built relationships with Indigenous-led companies and First Nations in northern Saskatchewan.
Innovation at the Site
“The fascinating thing about innovation is that it’s not all about high tech gadgets, but about improvements of existing technology,” says Speerbrecker. “Operating a mining operation is costly, especially with remote locations requiring a camp, food, and medical support. However, what if you could operate the mine remotely?”
Thyssen sees that the future is now, where operators do not have to enter the underground environment. Workers operate the equipment remotely, through a network of signal repeaters. “We can envision a single person setting up the drill in one work location, moving over to the mucking machine, clearing up a freshly excavated work face, moving over to the ground support equipment and then supporting the ground—all from one chair on the surface at any location,” says Speerbrecker. “These are some of the innovations we are discussing and seeing our clients perform. The only personnel that would be required underground would be support personnel.” These innovations are currently happening and many more are coming to further improve this approach to mining that reduces risk and increases efficiency.
“This innovative approach translates into a safer work environment for our employees, which is always forefront in any decision we make. Allowing employees to execute their tasks from a distance, even a short distance, significantly reduces the risks that an underground miner faces every day,” says Speerbrecker. “If we can make a business choice which reduces those risks while enhancing our efficiencies, that’s a win-win for everyone.”
Thyssen Mining also works closely with equipment manufacturers to support innovations in mining. “For operations such as ours, the work horse of driving drift (tunnels) is the drilling jumbo,” says Speerbrecker. “We have invested in the most current technology for our drilling jumbo fleet. The use of the ‘smart jumbo’ came with initial skepticism, but we have seen a drastic reduction in overbreak of rock, high accuracy in our drilling profiles, which also equates to less challenges with ground support.” Thyssen’s ‘smart drilling’ allows the drill to continue drilling unattended, increasing production between shifts and allowing the next shift to come into a freshly drilled face so the next step can begin seamlessly. “An investment in this technology pays for itself,” says Speerbrecker. “It reduces maintenance costs too, because the drill monitors its performance which reduces the wear on components. It even advises the maintenance team when issues are arising.”
Simpler technologies are also changing mining for Thyssen and its clients. “We’re seeing RFID tags that monitor personnel or equipment movements in the underground, and LiDAR to provide profiles and details of the work area,” says Speerbrecker. “There are virtual reality simulators for training on equipment or walkthroughs of builds prior to cutting any steel. Simply amazing things are being done by great teams of people to make mining safer and more efficient.”
“Our history is one of innovation and vision—it’s what we’re built on and it’s what we do every day,” says Speerbrecker. “It’s what makes us stand out in mining. We’re proud of what we have accomplished so far, and excited about what’s to come.”
Learn more about Thyssen Mining at thyssenmining.com.
2409 N Albert St.
R.M. of Sherwood
377 Sunshine Ln
Spring Creek NV