McAlpine Mill And Haileybury School Of Mines, A Co-Op That Works
By: Kevin Beirne Sabin Metal Corp., USA
Kevin Beirne is vice president of marketing with Sabin Metal Corp., 1647 Wheatland Center Road, Scottsville, NY 14546. Photos courtesy of Roger Smirle, Haileybury School of Mines.
Most people involved in the mining industry are familiar with student-industry co-op work-study programs. Many colleges and universities have used them for years. Northern College’s Haileybury School of Mines student co-op program adds a new dimension of productivity to the college and the mining industry. The college is located in Haileybury, Ontario, Canada.
An example of the program’s success is the school’s relationship with Sabin Metal’s SMC (Canada) Ltd.’s McAlpine Mill in Cobalt, Ontario. Students gain practical knowledge and experience while industry gains an eager-to-learn worker. And many of the college’s advanced research services are made available to industry to supplement their own capabilities.
The McAlpine Mill was established to provide custom milling of slags and ores. It also recovers metal values from other products of the primary and secondary precious metal industries. The site is formally known as the Penn Mill Site. It was purchased from Agnico-Eagle and became operational in the fall of 1998. The mill incorporates a 180-t/d (200-stpd) gravity/flotation circuit with an approved tailings basin.
Carlo Cattarello is a professor of milling and metallurgy at Haileybury and also the co-op program coordinator. He has been working closely with Dan Cleroux, manager of the McAlpine Mill. Cattarello said that Haileybury has worked with the mill on metallurgical and in-plant testing. He added that Cleroux has also been “very good with taking students from our co-op program to work at the mill.”
Haileybury offers its metallurgical testing capabilities to other organizations throughout Canada. And most of them also have student co-op programs. The school has its own plant facility and laboratory to test slags. This provides mines and mills with data on quality and quantity evaluations of recoverable materials.
The McAlpine Mill has its own testing facilities. Cattarello said that the school’s testing services are used merely as adjuncts for industry. He said that Canadian mines “have excellent facilities, including advanced metallurgical laboratories. But we are available if they want any help. Sometimes they provide ore to us solely as specific projects for our students to work on.”
The Mining Engineering Technician and Technology Program combined with the Instrumentation Program at Haileybury usually has about 150 students each semester. They typically attend school two semesters before being assigned to industry for a semester.
The program leads to a certificate of completion for either a two-year technician program in mining or instrumentation or a three-year technologist program in mining. Cattarello said that several students subsequently attend Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI to complete their bachelor’s degrees, typically in mining, metallurgy or geology.
Pay scales in the Canadian mining industry are relatively high. This is another reason Cattarello believes the school has done so well. “Canadian mining still offers great opportunities for students and wages are very good,” he said.
Northern College’s Haileybury School of Mines was established in 1912. The school was closed briefly during World War II. It reopened as the post-secondary Provincial Institute of Mining and continued until 1967. Graduates include many prominent Canadians and others involved in the global mining industry.
In 1967, the school was inducted into the system of colleges of applied ore technology. It continued to graduate technicians and technologists for the mineral industries. Most of the school’s 2,000 graduates are employed throughout the world in geology, mining, metallurgy and instrumentation.
Because the curriculum is integrated, graduates are prepared to shift laterally in a mining company as priorities and economic realities dictate. They have also become valuable assets to smaller companies because of their well rounded educational and co-op industrial backgrounds.
The Haileybury School of Mines has become a renowned post-secondary institution specializing in technological education for the mineral industries. The school’s broad curriculum program in mining technology covers geology, mining and metallurgy for engineering technologists with emphasis on production management. The instrumentation engineering technician program in process measurement and control systems prepares students for technical positions in the industry.
Haileybury also has an excellent instrumentation engineering program. It prepares students for jobs in metallurgical plants in mining, chemical, petroleum, pulp and paper, nuclear and conventional electric-power generation, as well as instrument- and control-system manufacturing.
Cattarello said school administrators are pleased with the progress of this curriculum, which also includes co-op semesters.
Nelson Berg decided on a mining career after leaving Lakehead University with a B.S. degree. He also completed the Mining Engineering Technician Program at Haileybury and is currently enrolled in the Mining Engineering Technology Program there.
As a summer student, Berg worked in the co-op program at Noranda’s Geco Mine. This resulted in Berg attending Haileybury. There he received a multi-disciplined education ranging from geology and surveying to metallurgy/mineral processing and fire assaying.
While at Haileybury, Berg focused his interests on metallurgy. His last three co-op terms have been in the metallurgical area (at Wabi Iron & Steel, the Williams Mine and, presently, at the McAlpine Mill). His experience at McAlpine has provided a high degree of freedom and opportunity to learn.
Berg’s responsibilities include performing metallurgical and environmental laboratory tests on potential new clients’ ore/slag materials, to mill-circuit balance and monitoring. He also represented SMC material at Noranda’s CCR metallurgical site in Montreal.
Another exchange student at McAlpine is Tom Palangio. He attended Haileybury and completed his Mining Engineering Technician program. Palangio is now working towards his professional engineering degree at Michigan Tech University, with the intention of obtaining a Masters degree in Explosives Engineering.
Jason Cyr began working at the McAlpine Mill after his first term at Haileybury. “I met workers who had been in this field for quite some time and was overwhelmed with all of the information and techniques that were given to me on how to operate a mill,” he said. “With all the experience that I have received, I would like to further my career as a metallurgist after graduating from the Haileybury School of Mines.”
SMC Canada/McAlpine is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sabin Metal Corp., the world’s largest privately owned refiner of precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, palladium, ruthenium and rhodium. The company was established in 1945 and is based in East Hampton, NY. It has an advanced refining facility in Rochester, NY.
Sabin Metal is considered among the most environmentally conscious organizations of its kind. The tailings basin at the McAlpine Mill complies with all applicable standards. The company’s “zero discharge” processing plant adjoining New York’s most well protected trout stream is unique in the industry.
This 46,450-m2 (500,000-sq ft) facility also complies with all local, state and federal environmental regulations. Sabin’s precious metal recovery processes offer the highest possible materials recovery and maximum environmental protection.
Cattarello adds that Sabin’s McAlpine site “is unique. They have been a real boost for this area,” he said. “Their method of treating precious metal slags makes Sabin probably one of the top companies for doing this. Sabin has done an excellent job and made a good name for itself here.” In addition, the McAlpine site created about 30 new jobs in Cobalt, “with more expected down the road,” Cattarello said. “It really gives this area a shot in the arm.”
At the McAlpine Mill, Cattarello said co-op students are exposed to all phases of the business. This includes crushing, grinding and flotation, so that they get hands-on milling experience. “That part is really a big help to these students,” he said, “so that when they leave they can become productive immediately. We have a good working relationship with Sabin there.”
Cattarello considers the McAlpine facility unique because it can process precious metal slags from anywhere. The facility has just completed a 45-t/d (50-stpd) pilot plant. Cattarello said that many Canadian mines are sending material to the pilot plant for evaluation. “The more companies find out about Sabin, the more interested they are going to be in sending material to them.”
Sabin is known throughout the United States, he said.” But now that the Canadian mining industry is learning about them, Sabin is going to be a real benefit to mining companies here that have precious metal slags to treat,” he said.
Haileybury graduates are placed in the mining industry across Canada. Job placement levels are at about 95%, Cattarello said. “Canada is noted for its gold mines,” he said. “But Inco and Falconbridge in Sudbury, Ontario are two of the world’s leading nickel and copper producers, also producing some precious metal byproducts.” Falconbridge’s Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins is a large copper and zinc producer. And Cattarello added that there are many other gold and base metal mines across the country. “In fact, a major diamond mine — BHP’s Ekati Mine — was recently opened in the Northwest Territories,” he said.
Canada’s environmental regulations are at least as strict as those in the United States, Cattarello said. But the McAlpine Mill site is not affected because the company is “very environmentally conscious,” he said. “They have a state-of-the-art tailings pond at the Cobalt facility and they really do a good job with environmental concerns.”
Cattarello would like to see the Haileybury/McAlpine work/study program expanded. “We are just getting our foot in the door now. I am sure down the road we will have more students there since everyone benefits by the arrangements.”
Cattarello referred to the school’s evaluation laboratories where Sabin’s “people can come and use it or we can do test work for them. We are always discussing ways of improving things for Sabin and the school,” he said. “I think that there is going to be a good relationship down the road that will grow.”