New Prize-winning Underground Boot Improves Miners Comfort and Safety
Mine operators can’t afford to take anything for granted when it comes to the safety of day-to-day operations. This is why mining footwear, too, deserves special attention. Blundstone is just around the corner from making available their new range of fit-for-purpose underground boots.
The Blundstone organisation consists of a highly integrated group of companies owned and operated by a family whose history can be traced back to the 1840’s. Despite growing to become one of the world’s most recognisable boot brands, the company remains Tasmanian. While brilliant, this did make partnering up with the highly regarded Australian mining business Centennial Coal, a domestic and export market supplier, an essentially obvious choice.
The brilliant and not so obvious element here was the idea to partner up with an industry leader, people actually in the mines, in order to execute the most helpful and relevant data and statistics mining. In order to develop this seemingly unique boot, Blundstone teamed up with the management at the Centennial coal mine to perform extensive wear trials. Blundstone has already secured top honours at the NSW Mineral’s Council Health and Safety Innovation Awards.
Blundstone Group Range Development Manager Michelle Vince carried out a pivotal role on the team behind the boot currently referred to as simply “style number 980”. Upon successfully conducting the research that enabled Blundstone to develop style number 980, Vince commended Centennial for their openness to participating in the development process: “The really great part about this project was Centennial being so approachable,” she said. “We had found it almost impossible to get past the front gates other mines prior to this.”
“When we met with Centennial they said ‘look, we use your gumboots, they do need improvement, but what we really need is this leather boot’. They took us underground to let us have a look at the environment, which was really important because it gave us the opportunity to speak to the guys actually using the footwear, and they could show us their issues on the spot. As [Centennial’s procurement] said to me, how do you think you can design a boot for us if you haven’t been underground?”
Blundstone’s new boots provide for a vastly improved experience for underground workers, featuring laceless and zipless design, incorporating the new BOA system for quick closure and simple release, which Blundstone says gives a custom fit at the turn of a dial. The soles are a brand new design of Poron XRD, which is designed for maximum impact absorption, and are also puncture resistant for added protection. And there’s a new Metguard, providing a metatarsal guard that protects the wearer from dropped objects on the foot.
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”