May 17, 2020

Lunchbox for Miners: The L. May Metal Fabricators story

Miner's Lunchbox
3 min
Lunchboxes for Miners: The L. May Metal Fabricators story
For people in the mining industry, working up an appetite is easy to do. The labor intensive sector requires long hours, remote locations and hazardous...

For people in the mining industry, working up an appetite is easy to do. The labor intensive sector requires long hours, remote locations and hazardous working conditions, creating the perfect storm for one’s afternoon hunger. To combat the harsh lunch time setting, the ideal lunch box has been born.

L. May Metal Fabricators, the creators behind the Miner's Lunchbox, is a Canadian-based company specializing in aluminium lunch boxes designed specifically for the mining industry. The lunch boxes, which were originially created by a miner, are manufactured with all steel-nickel-plated hardware to ensure extra strong and durable riveted construction, making them virtually indestructable.

“Our Miners Lunchboxes are known to last 30 plus years, enduring the daily use and abuse of industry workers. They are handed down to the next generation with family pride,” says Owner, Catherine Langin.

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In 2009, the iconic lunch boxes were featured on the CBC television show Dragon's Den. 

Here’s their story:

In 1957, Leo May, a miner working underground at INCO Ltd, the world's major nickel producer, sat his black tin lunch box on its end to use as a seat while waiting for the "cage", the underground elevator system bringing men and supplies in and out of the mine depths.

The next thing he knew he was flat on the ground, his lunchbox squashed. This was not acceptable! So, his inventive mind set about creating a lunchbox that would hold the weight of a man, and his lunch, when there were no seats available -- miners often ate their lunch on the job, in field conditions without chairs or benches. Also, it had to be affordable for the miners, who earned $1.25/per hour at the time.

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Working from a small workbench out of his basement workshop, May came up with a design that not only supported him but was built to last. When May showed up at work with his shiny new lunchbox, he was immediately inundated with orders for 40 more! Soon, Leo's hobby evolved into a small company called L.May Mfg. To identify his lunchboxes, he modestly chose a small stamp in the most popular font of the day and placed it in the upper left hand side -- "just like the address on the letter” -- where that very same stamp shows today. 

These engineering marvels were hand-produced for a few years until demand forced him to invent unique automated equipment for mass production. In 1978, the company was incorporated under the name L. May Metal Fabricators Ltd. Leo's lunchboxes became the standard for the mining and construction industry and virtually 100 percent of  INCO's 20,000 workers carried the lunchboxes from Sudbury. Many workers at the time carried their same lunchboxes until retirement--a span of 30 years. Some say they work like good luck charms.

Leo's lunchboxes are now sold around the globe, as The Original Miner's Riveted Aluminum Lunchboxes and are now used in many innovative settings such as industrial uses, promotional items for advertising agencies, fashion items, household uses, seen in movies and TV commercials. The uses are limited only by your imagination.

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May 4, 2021

Axora launches global challenge for digital technology

2 min
Axora, the industrial B2B digital solutions marketplace, has launched 'The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge' to discover game changing innovations

Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.


The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.

Digital Transformation

“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.

“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”

The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge

Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.

“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.

Improving productivity, safety and sustainability

Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.

To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.

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