Technical Sessions that Enlighten

The SME Minnesota Conference is proud to present technical sessions hosted by some of the leading innovators and technology from the industry. All technical sessions will be held at Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) .

To learn more about available sessions, please view the complete list below.


The SME Minnesota Conference is proud to present more than 40 technical sessions featuring the leading practitioners in the mining industry from across the U.S. Session topics can be viewed below:



Opening Plenary

8:30am-10:00am

Opening Remarks: Julie Lucas, Conference Chair

US 53 Highway Relocation Project: Patrick Huston, TH 53 Project Director

The Minnesota Department of Transportation constructed Highway 53 in 1960 on a private easement owned by US Steel across a taconite reserve in Virginia, Minnesota. Many state, county and local roads also were constructed across the reserve in this fashion. The terms of the easement agreement stated that US Steel would be responsible to move the highway if the ore reserve was needed prior to 1987, and MnDOT would be responsible for relocating the highway after 1987. The original agreement required the move to be made within three years of notice. In 2010, MnDOT received notice that the highway would have to be relocated to make way for mining, triggering the start of one of MnDOT's greatest engineering challenges to date. The project consists of 3.2 miles of new four-lane highway, a new 1,132-foot bridge (Minnesota's tallest when complete) across the Rouchleau Pit , a new interchange, utility and trail relocation, drainage, lighting and signal construction. The project is currently nearing 70 percent complete, two months ahead of schedule and within budget. It is anticipated to be substantially complete at the time of presentation. The presentation will cover many unique project development and construction tactics the team used to develop and construct what is currently considered MnDOT's highest risk project. The relocation of Highway 53 is a highly technical project in a mining environment and is a schedule-driven job. Failure is not an option. The presentation will tell the success story of how a team consisting of MnDOT, eight state and three federal agencies and many consultants got the job done. Topics will include project management and communication strategies, the use of the core team concept, agency subcabinet, public outreach strategy, concurrent environmental processes for schedule savings, Construction Manager General Contractor delivery, co-located design, preferred alignment selection process, bridge type selection process, identifying/quantifying and pricing mineral purchases, early steel procurement, successful DBE and Workforce goal planning and clearance strategies, risk reduction and non-traditional methods of contracting construction required for project development engineering. The presentation will conclude with a construction update.

Session Chairs:

Paula Giryn (Hibbing Taconite Co.)
Katie Larson (Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.)



A Survey of the Best Time-Saving, Headache-Reducing, Flexibility-Increasing Air Permitting Innovations in Mining States
10:45 am | Clay Raasch - Trinity Consultants, David Strohm - Trinity Consultants, Boise, ID, Eddie Al-Rayes- Trinity Consultants, Phoenix, AZ

Whether a company is mining for metals, coal, phosphate, industrial minerals, or any other valued raw material, the language included in its environmental permitting documents can produce significant operational constraints - or flexibility. This is particularly true with air quality permits which can limit the usage of fleet vehicles, process equipment operation and even the routine testing of emergency generators. Across the nation, state air quality permitting agencies are addressing the unique needs of the mining sector using an array of programmatic and regulatory tools. Trinity Consultants has worked with these air quality regulators, and provided air quality permitting services to over 125 mining clients on upwards of 700 projects for mining facilities across the United States. The authors will summarize the best innovations they have participated in or been witness to, for producing functional and operationally flexible air quality permits. Specifically, the presentation will address permitting options and approaches for permit exemptions and waivers, registration type permits, fugitive dust control, fleet vehicle operation and particle size distributions for fugitive dust (PM10 vs. PM2.5 emissions, including limiting prediction of PM2.5 emissions to high-temperature processes).


Sensitivity of fugitive dust air modeling results to non-default modeling options
11:15 am | Todd Fasking and Jenni Koenen - Barr Engineering Co.; Jeff Bennett, Barr Engineering Co., Jefferson City, MO; Eric Edwalds and Pat Sheehy, Barr Engineering Co., Minneapolis, MN

Model results are crucial to regulatory project approvability. EPA's air quality modeling system (AERMOD) has default and non-default options. The non-default options require technical demonstrations and agency approvals to use, but in some instances this may be worth pursuing. Here we will discuss two alternative options related to fugitive dust sources at mining operations: (1) particle deposition algorithms (Methods 1 and 2) which can be used to calculate plume depletion (removal) and (2) a surface roughness option (adjusted u star) that addresses the tendency of the default model to over predict fugitive transport in low wind speeds.


NextGen Ambient Air Particulate Monitoring
11:45 am | Michael Zebell, ERM, Milwaukee, WI

Imagine parents, out for a stroll with their infant, can check a real-time map to view the air quality in their neighborhood. Imagine that they have a device clipped to their stroller that sends particulate data to the cloud...one of hundreds in their town. This is the vision of companies seeking to empower citizens to measure and share air quality information. This presentation covers the progress made in next generation ambient monitoring technology; the products available and current activity to evaluate these technologies. A summary of particulate and haze monitoring devices on the market is presented, including data comparisons to reference methods. Current trends toward facility fence-line monitoring driven by Environmental Justice and future empowerment of citizens with these inexpensive, portable tools are discussed.


Evaluation and Ranking of Dust Control Measures for Mine Tailings Impoundments
1:45 pm | Robert Farmer, ERM, Scottsdale, AZ; Fred Tyratti and Cassady Kristensen, Rio Tinto, South Jordan, UT

Mine tailings, particularly in arid climates, can represent substantial sources of windblown dust. Mining facilities operated worldwide by Rio Tinto and others have implemented innovative methods to mitigate these emissions. This study identified and evaluated dust control practices that have been tested and successfully applied for mine tailings dams and impoundments. Operations in the United States and elsewhere in the world were surveyed. First, the range of control strategies and best management practices (BMPs) were evaluated over a diverse range of conditions. Secondly, this study developed a ranking of candidate controls, and identified key factors that contributed to successful implementation. This approach provides decision criteria to refine the choices among proven and innovative practices for tailings dust control to suit local conditions.


Mining Operators Are Facing Increasingly Stringent Government Regulations to Control Fugitive and Respirable Dust from Their Stockpiling and Material Handling Operations
2:15 pm | David Gilroy, Dust Solutions Inc-DSI, Vancouver, WA

The EPA recognizes permeable wind barriers as an effective method to control fugitive dust from open storage piles. Fabric type wind fences with a proven track record of over 30 years can be constructed in a matter of weeks without interfering with ongoing operations. This keeps your plant in compliance, lessening the visual impact of your operations and enhance public perception of your efforts to protect the environment. What is a wind fence? How does it work? Where does it go? How are wind fence projects developed? Site surveys, effectiveness studies and engineering. Comparison of wind fence materials and methods of construction.


Laboratory Analysis of the Generation and Mitigation of Fugitive Dust Events at Tailings Impoundments in Cold Weather Climates
3:30 pm | Bonnie Zwissler, Barr Engineering Co., Minneapolis, MN; Stan Vitton, Thomas Oommen and Eric Seagren, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI

Large volumes of tailings, which are a by-product of mining operations, are typically stored in tailings impoundments. These impoundments are subject to increasing levels of environmental scrutiny, for potential issues including fugitive dust emissions. Wind erosion of mine tailings and the resulting dust emissions, especially those generated in cold weather, remain an ongoing challenge for the mining industry to manage. This presentation will discuss industry-standard approaches to fugitive dust mitigation at tailings impoundments, the additional challenges associated with managing cold weather dusting events, and the development of a laboratory-based method to replicate this cold weather dusting phenomenon (freezing and sublimation) on tailings and characterize the fugitive dust using wind tunnel testing. This laboratory- based method allows for preliminary testing of mitigation techniques prior to field implementation.


How to Address PM Emission Testing Issues
4:00 pm | Todd Potas, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., St. Paul, MN

Particulate emissions characterization continues to present a challenge for facility air quality compliance. The lack of emissions data for sources at the particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and for that matter, PM less than 10 microns (PM10) size fractions, has led to more and more facilities conducting PM emissions testing versus using reference emission factors from sources like U.S. EPA AP-42. This presentation will discuss PM2.5, PM10 and PM emission testing issues to address for compliance testing protocol plans. Techniques for engineering testing before a scheduled compliance test will also be discussed. Testing as it relates to permitting compliance and air dispersion modeling will be reviewed with project examples. Particulate emission source comparative data from PM2.5, PM10 and PM results and discussion will be included in the presentation.

Session Chairs:

Greg Beckstrom (Donaldson Co.)
Julie Oreskovich



Environmental Quality Board: Environmental Review Update and Silica Sand Update
10:45 am | Erik Dahl, Courtney Ahlers-Nelson, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, St. Paul, MN

The 2013 Minnesota Legislature passed and Governor Mark Dayton signed new legislation to address silica sand mining, processing and transportation operations in Minnesota. The legislation directs state agencies to provide local units of government with technical assistance on regulation and permitting. As part of the 2013 Legislation, the Environmental Quality Board was mandated to: Develop model standards and criteria for mining, processing, and transporting silica sand: 1) Tools to assist local governments in planning for and regulating silica sand projects. 2) Assemble a silica sand technical assistance team to provide local units of government, at their request, with assistance with ordinance development, zoning, environmental review and permitting, monitoring, or other issues arising from silica sand mining and processing operations. 3) Amend its rules for environmental review.


Establishing the potential for lithium mineralization on state-managed mineral rights
11:15 am | Andrea Reed, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Hibbing, MN

Lithium batteries are powering our electronic devices and vehicles more than ever, leading to increased interest in lithium deposits. Global production of lithium is currently from brines and granitic pegmatites, with potential production from clays. Of these deposit types, the best likelihood of a Minnesota discovery may reside in pegmatites. As a land and mineral rights manager for the Public School Trust Fund, the Department of Natural Resources is conducting a project to evaluate pegmatites for lithium potential. This project will contribute to the education of future generations through sales, leases, or royalties and possibly a greener future for everyone.


Innovative peat harvest and manufacturing for the production of granular carriers for agriculture
11:45 am | Peggy Jones and Doug Green, American Peat Technology, Aitkin, MN

Peat, partially decayed vegetation, accumulates in low-lying depressions. Peat is a valuable resource in the horticultural and turfgrass industries, and the deposits can reach depths of over 10 meters. American Peat Technology (APT), however, harvests reed-sedge peat to create innovative products for use in the agricultural industry. The success of APT is driven largely by a history of creative engineering and innovative thinking. In an industry where buyers are unwilling to pay a premium for a product that can be dug out of the ground with a shovel, APT has developed a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that supplies most of the North American market for peat-based microbial carriers. This presentation describes APT's methods of peat harvest and manufacturing process, which together, brand them as a standalone type of company in the peat industry.


Continuing the Dimension Stone Inventory of Northern Minnesota
1:45 pm | Cheyanne Jacobs, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Hibbing, MN

Dimension stone is an integral part of interior and exterior design for both home and commercial projects. Because of the high demand for quality stone products, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conducts a dimension stone inventory. This is a part of its trustee role to provide mineral potential information to the surface land managers. Areas of high potential are offered for lease to generate funds for the school trust and tax districts. Resources such as aerial photography, LiDAR, geologic maps, and other digital data, as well as field verification, are used to locate areas of high dimension stone potential.


Finding Aggregate Faster: The New Web Application That Identifies Construction Aggregate Resources on School Trust Lands
2:15 pm | Corrie Thomas Floyd, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is directed by statute to manage School Trust Lands in a manner that adds value to the Permanent School Fund. Identification and development of construction aggregate resources on School Trust Lands provides one such opportunity. In an effort to promote the potential leasing of School Trust aggregate resources, The Division of Lands and Minerals has developed the “School Trust Aggregate Finder� application. This tool is an interactive web map that identifies School Trust parcels which may contain valuable sand and gravel deposits based on geologic data, gravel pit records, elevation data and field records. Our goal is to help public transportation administrators and private companies locate aggregate prospects faster, and improve public recognition of School Trust lease opportunities.


Advanced Aggregate Exploration Techniques: Landform Mapping Using LiDAR and GIS
3:30 pm | Jacqueline Finck and Jonathan Ellingson, Terracon, West Fargo, ND

Landform mapping has been used for decades for the exploration of sand and gravel deposits by mapping geomorphic landforms within glacial and fluvial systems. Geographic Information System (GIS) has been an effective tool used to access, interpret, summarize, and display massive amounts of geological data. New light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data reveals landforms not visible with traditional mapping techniques, making it easier to map areas with little topographic relief such as the Red River Valley. LiDAR, combined with GIS to complete landform mapping, gives geolgists the ability to identify and map sand and gravel deposits never seen before.


Integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into Mining Operations
4:00 pm | Matt Chaffee, Tiller Corporation, Maple Grove, MN

The migration of UAS technology from the government & military realm to the civilian enthusiast and forward thinking business population has created a firestorm of innovation in technology, data collection, and workflow improvements. As the technology continues to advance, the applications for exploration, mine planning, and mine operations scale along with it. It is easy to get excited and eager to implement this new technology into your operations, but one must always be aware of the current limitations of the technology and its proper application. Tiller Corporation is a construction materials supplier based in Maple Grove Minnesota, supplying the market with aggregates, hot mix asphalt and liquid asphalt cement. In this presentation we will share our successes, struggles and discoveries during our two years of UAS technology use. Having used both fixed wing and multi-rotor technology we will talk about the appropriate environment for each aircraft, how we have integrated the technology into our workflow, and the direction we see the industry evolving.
Session Chairs:

NRRI Session Chair - Chan Lan Chun
NRRI Co-Chair - George Host



Remote Sensing of Wetlands for Land Use Planning and Environmental Permitting
10:45 am | Bryan Tolcser, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., St. Paul, MN; Allyz Kramer, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., Duluth, MN

The wetland permitting process can be cumbersome for large projects involving many site design alternatives or vast areas of landscape to evaluate. Remote sensing can be used as a tool during preliminary project planning and environmental review to identify wetland areas to be avoided or minimized for project site selection, placement of site infrastructure, and alternatives analysis. Better technology and newer, higher quality aerial imagery and LiDAR data make it possible to achieve a level of wetland mapping accuracy adequate for project site design alternatives analysis. By combining these data sets and others including topography, flow models, and wetness indices, it is possible to make wetland boundary determinations quickly over large areas. This approach is more efficient than onsite field delineation and can provide substantial cost savings during environmental review by screening alternatives for potential wetland impacts. When more site details are needed for specific alternatives, field reconnaissance can then be focused on those areas where more data are needed. Remote sensing of wetlands is not meant to be a replacement for field wetland delineation. Rather, the goal is to identify potential wetland areas that may be targeted for further investigation when more precision (i.e. field wetland delineation methods) is needed to determine future impacts in specific areas. This presentation will briefly discuss the remote sensing methodology and provide graphical details of past successful environmental screening for wetlands to streamline alternative site selection and impacts evaluation.


The Impact of Sulfate and Sulfide on MeHg in Mining-Impacted Freshwater Lake and Wetland Sediment
11:15 am | Nate Johnson, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN

A study of lakes and wetlands downstream from the Mesabi Iron Range in NE Minnesota investigated spatial and temporal patterns in MeHg and associated geochemistry in sediments of waterbodies receiving contrasting loads of sulfate. Although significantly more sulfide accumulated in sediment of sulfate-impacted ecosystems, dissolved and solid-phase MeHg concentrations in sediment were statistically similar in sulfate-impacted and un-impacted systems. Iron and water level fluctuations were identified as key controls on the extent to which sulfate and sulfide impact sediment sediment MeHg production and accumulation. Further research is needed to determine how sulfate-limited freshwater lakes and wetlands might respond to new inputs of high-sulfate runoff, but chronically impacted wetland and lake sediment do not appear to continually accumulate or produce MeHg at rates different from lakes and wetlands un-impacted by mining.


Advanced Horizontal Water Drainage Boreholes for Mine-related Remediation Applications and Active Mining Operations
11:45 pm | Michael Bohan, REI Drilling, Berlin Center, OH

Mining can impact the surrounding environment as workings become inundated after mine closure. Localized raising of the water table can impact nearby surroundings by the redistribution of runoff, and/or increased pore pressures and subsequent weeping through strata. Horizontal drainage boreholes are engineered and developed to intercept the mine pool, safely lowering and controlling the mine pool. They can have diameters as large as 16 inches, lengths of up to 5,000 feet, and flow several thousand gallons per minute under gravity and head pressures alone. Mining entities can realize significant cost reductions related to pumping operations by utilizing horizontal drainage boreholes in mine planning. Horizontal boreholes take advantage of gravity drainage or by lowering head pressures through reducing elevations at which pumping operations have to overcome.


Reclamation of Iron Ore Scram Mining Tailings: Innovations in Establishing Native Vegetation
1:45 pm | Allyz Kramer, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., Duluth, MN; Joel Asp, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., St. Cloud, MN

Minnesota has robust reclamation standards and have proven results in the taconite mining industry. Reclamation of overburden spoils, lean ore spoils and fine tailings from taconite production has generally been successful on the Iron Range, using a low input standard reclamation practice. Success at reestablishing vegetation on these landscapes is likely due to fairly favorable chemical and physical properties (e.g., few limitations due to acidic generating materials, metal toxicities, and water and nutrient holding capacities). However, coarse tailings reclamation has proven more difficult, presumably due to lower nutrient and challenges with moisture holding capacities. Research efforts conducted since 1990 have struggled to develop a reclamation strategy for coarse tailings that meets the Minnesota Mineland Reclamation Rules, Chapter 6130. New breakthroughs in scram mining technologies are producing fine and coarse tailings that have not been encountered nor reclaimed in northern Minnesota. Innovative research is underway to investigate and determine successful reclamation strategies to reclaim scram mining tailings from the scram mining operations. The research program is conducted through collaboration with SEH, Prairie Restorations, Inc. (PRI), and Mining Resources, LLC with funding support from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. The research program is divided into three phases:Phase I: Bench scale testing to identify successful treatments to reclaim and restore scram tailings through evaluating “surface soil� amendments, viable seed mixes and plant germination, growth and densities. Phase I was completed in early 2016. Phase II: Field scale pilot trial to test larger scale effectiveness of the treatments deemed successful in Phase I and test various vegetative assemblages and planting techniques focused on the unique challenges with scram tailing basins. Phase II is in progress. Phase III: Produce a technical report of results for the research undertaken in this study, as well as compile prior reclamation results used during previous Minnesota iron mining reclamation projects on tailings basin applications. The presentation will step through the research proposal, Phase I bench scale results and subsequent Phase II design, implementation and year 1 field trial results.


Temporary Recreational Use of Mine Lands to Assist with Social License
2:15 pm | Pete Kero, Barr Engineering Co., Hibbing, MN

For decades, closed mines around the world have been repurposed for uses ranging from food production to recreational parks to computer data storage. Better development and promotion of such post-mining land uses could change the public's perception and support of mining. Yet, mine repurposing often requires significant reclamation and infrastructure investments. These investments can be difficult to reverse when economic or technological changes allow closed mines to be re-opened. This conundrum can stagnate the reuse of mine lands because stakeholders want to protect potential future mining value that may develop when conditions change. Temporary recreational use of mine lands has the potential to increase public support for mining without permanently encumbering mineral resources. This talk will explore potential temporary recreational uses that have both high levels of public interest and low infrastructure and reclamation investments. Also, it will discuss practices for site selection, stakeholder engagement and calculating the potential return on investment for such projects.
Session Chairs:

SME Session Chair - Dan Gebhart (Hibbing Taconite Co.)
NRRI Co-Chair - Marsha Patelke



Presplitting in Taconite - An Update on Progress
10:45 am | Travis Davidsavor, Barr Engineering Co., Duluth, MN; Brian Anderson, Barr Engineering Co., Minneapolis, MN

As taconite operations near final highwall configurations, measures are being evaluated to improve safety for workers, improve the long-term highwall stability for reclamation requirements, improve ore recovery, and reduce water infiltration and rock mass damage outside the pit envelope. Presplitting, a blasting technique utilizing closely-spaced holes and decoupled explosives in the hole, shot instantaneously to form a tension crack along a predetermined plane, is one method being evaluated by taconite operations to improve final highwall conditions. This paper discusses the continued evolution of presplit blasting at two mines. Areas discussed include the evolution of the iron ore presplit blasting design process, field implementation and coordination, and a presentation of final highwall conditions using presplit blasting and comparative control panels where presplit blasting was not conducted.


Structural Controls on Mineralization in the Black Hills, SD
11:15 am | Stephen Allard, Winona State University, Winona, MN; Robert Bergman and Brian Lentz, Big Rock Exploration, Minneapolis, MN

Mineralization associated with hydrothermal fluid-flow along faults is widely accepted, especially in the brittle regime, where rock cohesiveness is disrupted thus allowing for open-fracture flow. Our work in the Black Hills has identified a previously overlooked, ductile, deep-crustal structure containing evidence it served as a long-lived conduit for open-system fluid flow. The temporal and spatial relationship between this system and the Homestake deposit beg the question as to the importance of this structure to gold mineralization. Prior to our work, the main suturing of the Wyoming and Superior provinces was thought to have deformed just the rift-related basalts and sediments at ca. 1750; however, we have identified an ~30 Mya younger event that strongly deformed the underlying Archean basement as well. Distinguishing the younger event from the older in the supracrustal rocks is often dubious, but important, as the older structures do not exhibit the hydrothermal alteration present in the younger more cryptic structures. Our ongoing research is attempting to determine the influence of this structure on mineralization in the Black Hills, but more importantly to understand the mineralization process and ultimate source of the metals in order to propose targets for future “Homestake-like� deposits.


Fuel filtration needs and for heavy duty off road equipment and understanding cold weather implications
11:45 am | Jim Doyle, Donaldson Company Inc., Bloomington, MN

Simple visual inspection of oil samples can shed light on things that are difficult to directly assess from traditional oil analysis in many situations. Traditional oil analysis is geared towards equipment in operation and looking at trends over time. Newly manufactured or serviced equipment, incoming new fluid contamination, unexpected contamination sources, etc., can be a challenge to meaningfully asses/ identify and remedy with typical oil analysis alone. Visual assessment of particulate can shed light on types and sources of contamination that are not easily identified by lab results. If practiced routinely, this can speed troubleshooting and fixing contamination issues much more quickly and reliably.


Appropriate Correlation Factors for IS50/UCS Tests at the Grasberg Mining Complex
1:45 pm | Franz Campero, MEC International; Nicole Gregory, Freeport-McMoRan

The use of the pointload strength index test is ubiquitous across all rock mechanics fields. In mining, the pointload test is the quickest and most efficient way to evaluate large volumes of data in order to create models and projections for rock mass strength in both active areas and planned excavation areas. While the pointload strength index may be used by itself, it is most often converted to an unconfined compressive strength (UCS) using a correlation factor. These factors have very generally been outlined in previous papers as ranging anywhere from 11 to 24, depending on geology, break type, discontinuities in the samples, and other environmental factors. At the large Grasberg mining complex in Indonesia, the geology is so diverse in type and age that a correlation factor has been challenging to find. It was decided that proper correlation factors must be determined for the commonly encountered geology at this mining complex. Each specimen was taken from the same drillcore interval in order to have a pointload and UCS test performed on the same sample. The geology ranges from strong diorite with an average compressive strength of180 MPa to dolomite, with an average strength of 60 MPa. Correlations were drawn only between samples that shared geologic type as well as failure type; for example, intact failure was matched with intact failure, and combined intact/discontinuity failure was matched with other combined intact/discontinuity failures. This paper outlines the series of tests and methods of analysis that were performed on over 200 samples in order to obtain valid correlation factors for mining and construction activities.


Instrumentation Planning and Use at a Saskatchewan Mine
2:15 pm | Vicki Hagberg, Barr Engineering Co., Hibbing, MN

The instrumentation of tailings facilities is a critical part of monitoring tailings piles and earthen embankments to verify they are performing consistent with their design. Instrumentation provides useful information during construction, after construction, and during operations to verify that the system is performing as intended. This presentation discusses case studies of the planning, implementation, and use of instrumentation at Saskatchewan potash mines. One case study will demonstrate the application of vibrating wire (VW) piezometers to monitor the construction of a dam over soft tailings. A second case study will show how VW piezometers were used to influence the operation of a fine tailings facility. A third case study will show how a remote monitoring installation was used to influence operation of a salt tailings pile.


Hibbing Taconite Company - Hydrology and Water Balance
3:30 pm | Chris Winter, Hibbing Taconite Co., Hibbing, MN

Hibbing Taconite Company (HTC) extracts magnetic iron from taconite ore using a separation process requiring a significant and stable water supply. To support this process, HTC manages between four and six billion gallons of water, all of which is recycled through the processing facility at a rate of 120,000 gallons per minute. Understanding the hydrology of the HTC tailing basin is key to maintaining sufficient water for the concentrating process. This paper explores how HTC models the hydrology of the basin, tracks water volumes within the basin, and manages its process water supply to support uninterrupted plant operations while at the same time conserving important resources.


Mine Water Management at a Limited-discharge Potash Mine in Saskatchewan
4:00 pm | Jeff Grinsel, Art Kalmes and Seth Anderson, Barr Engineering Co., Minneapolis, MN

The management of water at a Saskatchewan mine must consider the variability in mining operations and climatic cycles. Many mining facilities have discharge limitations and must operate below regulatory storm containment levels while maintaining adequate water for operation of other parts of the mine site. The assessment of the mine water management system typically relies on event-based models to understand performance during a specific precipitation event. Water balance modeling should also be considered in assessing facilities to account for season trends and extended wet/dry cycles. Commonly occurring wet cycles can sometimes place a greater demand on containment systems than less frequent design storm events. This presentation will discuss methods for mine water assessment and include an application of these concepts to a limited-discharge water management system.
Session Chairs:

SME Session Chair - Dan Palo (Barr Engineering Co.)
NRRI Co-Chair - Shashi Rao



Production of High Carbon DRI: The downstream integration for mining companies
10:45 am | Angelo Manenti, TENOVA Core, Coraopolis, PA

Iron ore mining companies, big or small, if located nearby to an economical source of natural gas, have a key advantage and incentive to produce and sell DRI vs. just iron ore pellets. DRI production adds significant value to iron ore mining products. In this paper will be analyzed the fundamental reasons for this fact, identified which is the best DRI to produce for given market and the best plant size for different market location.


Optimum use of DRI in North American Mini-mills: Latest Operational and Technological Developments
11:15 am | Dario Pauluzzi, Danieli Company, Buttrio, Udine, Italy

The performance requirements for modern steelmaking facilities are ever more stringent, as customers and markets are continuously pushing for technologies which allow having high quality steel produced in an economic and sustainable way. In the details, this paper has the aim to present the excellent results obtained by integrated steel plant where an EAF is fed with high quality hot ENERGIRON DRI. The recent technology developments, combined with the affirmed basic process design, contributed to further maximize the energy of the DRI, reaching the EAF at temperatures above 600°C with a carbon content up to 3.5%, as confirmed by plant data. These improved input material characteristics resulted in reduced electrical energy consumption and increased liquid steel production.


NorthMet Ore Processing
11:45 am | David Dreisinger, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The NorthMet orebody of PolyMet Mining contains large amounts of copper, nickel, cobalt and precious metals. The processing options for the NorthMet ore include the use of flotation and hydrometallurgical leaching and metal recovery. The split cleaner flotation process for production of separate copper and nickel concentrates from the NorthMet ore and the use of hydrometallurgical leaching of nickel concentrates will be presented.


Testing an Organic Binder to Replace Bentonite in the Iron Ore Pellets
1:45 pm | Matias Penttinnen, Kemira, Espoo, Finland; Mikko Iljana Iljana and Timo Fabritius, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Acid iron ore pellets with some organic binder were produced by a pellet plant in Russia. The pellets were produced for research purposes in a laboratory-scale pelletizing drum and fired in sample baskets set in the middle of the sintering belt in the same production line as the commercial blast furnace pellets. Initial target was to increase the cold crushing strength of the fired pellets with an organic binder. In this study, three organic binder test pellets with a different amount of bentonite were produced while keeping the organic binder and the amount of it constant. The results were compared to the commercial acid pellets. In addition to CCS, other metallurgical parameters (LTD, reducibility under un-constrained conditions and reduction- softening behaviour under load) were studied. Green pellet properties were not under investigations. In the chemical analysis, the positive effect of decreasing the amount of bentonite was noticed in the decreased SiO2 content and increased total Fe content. The initial target was achieved while CCS was significantly increased as the amount of bentonite was decreased. Simultaneously, also other metallurgical parameters were improved. Preliminary results suggest that it's worth substituting bentonite for organic binders in the metallurgical point of view. However, it must be taken into account that only one organic binder and one iron ore pellet type was studied in this research. Additionally, further research is needed to optimize the amount of organic binder and bentonite in the iron ore pellets.


Characterization of Sinter Raw Mix by Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer
2:15 pm | Mingming Zhang, Deka Mitrajoyoti and Marcelo Andrade, ArcelorMittal Global RD, East Chicago, IN

Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is a novel technique for elemental analysis based on laser-generated plasma. The developed system was applied for quantitative measurement of elemental concentration present in sinter plant raw material samples. The concentrations of various elements of process control significance such as iron, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, etc., in these samples were determined. Optimal experimental conditions were evaluated for improving the sensitivity of developed LIBS system through parametric dependence study. The laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) results were compared with the results obtained using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF). This study demonstrates that LIBS could be highly appropriate for rapid online analysis of sinter plant raw materials.


Estimating Ultra-fine Screening Performance and Efficiency
3:30 pm | Ryan Cunningham, Met-Chem Member of the DRA Group, Verdun, QC, Canada

The ultra-fine screen technology (as found in Derrick's StackSizerâ„¢) provides high classification efficiency at relatively (in terms of a screen) fine sizes. Review of results reveals that the performance of the technology differs from a traditional screen (i.e. where classification success is highly dependent on screen solid bed depth and % of material near the aperture size) and is more driven by the ability of the slurry to flow through the screen panel. A performance equation for an ultrafine screen is proposed that combines slurry head pressure at the top of the screen and slurry viscosity.


Process for Increasing Iron Recovery with Oxidized Iron Ores
4:00 pm | Tom Petersen, University of Minnesota-NRRI, Coleraine, MN

The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) is evaluating a means to reduce iron mining cost by maximizing iron recovery from current taconite operations and other potential oxidized iron resources. This will be accomplished by combining proven, emerging, and newly devised technologies and developing modified or new process flowsheets. The process development has shown significant potential to increase weight recovery at the same concentrate grade on numerous iron ore samples containing oxidized iron minerals. It also has indicated the ability to produce higher iron grade concentrates and may allow for low-silica (< 2% silica) concentrates to be produced with some iron ores that was not previously possible. The process effectively removes quartz and apatite, as well as magnesium and alumina gangue minerals, to produce a high-purity concentrate product.
Session Chair:

Christie Kearney, PolyMet Mining Co.
Rolf Weberg, NRRI



Making Positive Safety Practices Successful and Sustainable
3:30 pm | Marilee Robertson, ERM, Houston, TX

Successful and sustainable safety programs across industries and across organizations are often developed and deployed differently, however the safety programs with the most success have a few similar elements that make a defining difference. Identifying these elements and engaging them in the culture of the organization can make the different between wise and fulfilling investments or wasteful and faulting investments in safety. Highlighting a successful global project, we will demonstrate how engaging the hearts and minds of organic champions resulted in a wise and fulfilling and effective process.


Educational-Based Economic Development
4:00 pm | Allen Huju, Iron Range Engineering, Marcell, MN

Iron Range Engineering (IRE) is an educational institute that offers both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Masters in Engineering to encourage educational-based economic development in Northern Minnesota. Since 2010, there have been over 100 engineering graduates who have been employed in a wide variety of industries throughout the Iron Range, the state of Minnesota, and the United States. Of these graduates, over sixty percent have made the Iron Range their home. The IRE curriculum is project based; where students tackle four semester-long industry and/or entrepreneurial projects in their junior and senior years. Students develop as engineers by practicing design, technical, and professional aspects of their chosen engineering focus by working directly with industry partners. This type of curriculum has allowed IRE students to develop as active, self-directed learners in communication, teamwork, ethics, entrepreneurialism, and project management. These skills allow the student to give back to their community through various outreach programs. IRE is comprised of a partnership between Minnesota State University Mankato, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, and the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Iron Range Higher Education Commission has provided start-up grants to IRE through the Mining Production Tax. These grants have allowed over 225 individuals to pursue higher education with many of the graduates remaining in the area to work, live and support the Iron Range. Through the support of the mining industry, the graduates of Iron Range Engineering are able to continue growing, innovating and contributing to the economy on a local and global scale.
Session Chairs:

Chan Lan Chun, NRRI
Les Flemming, Iron Range Engineering



Microbial Contributions to Pyrrhotite Oxidation in the Duluth Complex
9:00 am | Daniel Jones, Kathryn Hobart, Elizabeth Roapke, Paige Novak, Michael Sadowsky and Joshua Feinberg, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

The Duluth Complex in Northeastern Minnesota contains magmatic sulfide mineral deposits that are estimated to represent one of the largest undeveloped copper-nickel prospects on Earth. Microorganisms are important catalysts for metal sulfide oxidation under certain conditions, and decades of research on microorganisms from extremely acidic waste rock has improved our management of sulfidic mine waste. However, because ores and waste rock from Duluth Complex weather under more moderately acidic conditions, and because the dominant sulfide minerals are pyrrhotite and other acid-soluble sulfides, little is known about the microbial processes that could influence water quality from the proposed mines. We will discuss new research on the microorganisms that occur in weathered Duluth Complex waste rock, and ongoing experimental work on pyrrhotite oxidation in the Duluth Complex.


The Development of Peat-based Weak Anion Exchange Resin that Removes Sulfate Anions from Acidic Water
9:30 am | Igor Kolomitsyn and Liudmyla Kildyshova and Natural Resources Research Institute, Duluth, MN; Rami Hallak, American Peat Technology LLC, Aitkin, MN

Peat is a slowly renewable resource. Because of its limited availability it is essential to add value to products that are produced from peat. Recently, we reported the development of three peat products for the removal of heavy metals: APTsorb IITM, APTsorb IIITM, and APTsorb II*NaTM. This presentation describes toward the development of a peat-based weak anion exchange material that effectively removes sulfate and other anions from very acidic waters. The new material has a total anion exchange capacity of 80 mEq/100 g and is stable at a wide range of pH. A new technique for measuring anion exchange capacity as well as performance data using mine water will be presented.
Session Chairs:

Greg Beckstrom, Donaldson Co.
Julie Oreskovich, NRRI



An Overview of NRRI Minerals-Based By-Product Research and Development Activities
9:00 am | Larry Zanko, NRRI, Duluth, MN

The Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota Duluth (NRRI-UMD) is conducting applied research focused on identifying potential beneficial end-uses for and expanding the utilization of mineral by-product materials generated by mining, mineral processing, and other industrial processes and activities. Much of this research effort has been aimed at pursuing near-term implementation projects that: 1) improve durability, safety, and natural resource sustainability; 2) introduce these materials to targeted markets in project-sized quantities; 3) have value-added commercialization potential; and 4) make environmental and economic sense.


Aggregate Materials Response to High Strain Rate Testing
9:30 am | Stanley Vitton, Michigan Tech University, Hancock, MI

High strain rate research was developed in the early 1900's to study the behavior of impact loading on metals by John Hopkinson and his son Bertram. The device is generally known today as a Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar (SHPB). High strain rate research using the SHPB was extended to brittle materials in the 1970's. In the past fifteen years, a series of research projects at Michigan Tech investigated the response of high strain rate testing on course aggregates used in concrete highways, which included igneous, carbonate and blast furnace slag aggregates. The primary purpose of this research was to investigate high strain rate behavior of the concrete's course aggregate in transferring shear loads across concrete joints. Later research investigated the high strain rate response of wood, specifically oak and pine, to better understand the compliance of the SHPB to low modulus materials. The presentation will summarize the results of this research and its application to aggregates in the areas such as crushing, grinding and blasting.
Session Chairs:

Christie Kearney, PolyMet Mining Co.
Rolf Weberg, NRRI



How to Wage Peace in the Community: Avoid the Contention, Divisiveness, Negativity that Kill Community Relationships and Projects Site Successfully with Lots of People Still Angry
9:00 am | Jim Lukaszewski, The Lukaszewski Group Division, Risdall, Rosecille, MN

Waging peace is a winning strategy: recognize and respect community core values; build neutrality rather than advocates vs enemies. Stop the production of critics and victims. Answer every question. Avoid the old failure causing mistakes. Skip the short cuts and backdoor deals. Stop thinking job creation is an entitlement to siting (the discredited “Social License� argument). Answer the tough questions “Would you put this in your own back yard?� These projects naturally generate angry people and communities because they impact health and safety, the environment, property values, peace of mind and disrupt local culture. Reduce contention. Be responsive. Absorb criticism. Apologize frequently. Be nice. Peace requires seeking, gaining and maintaining community permission and trusting them as much as you are asking them to trust you.


The Trump EPA: Reform or Rehash
9:30 am | Peter Tomasi, Quarles & Brady LLP, Milwaukee, WI

The new administration has entered office after promising voters significant regulatory relief - such as dropping three of the prior administration's signature initiatives, the Paris Accord, the Clean Power Plan, and the Waters of the United States Rule. While some of these commitments may be delivered on, others may not. In addition, a series of court settlements entered into under the prior administration make it likely that more rules are on the way. This session provides an overview of the likelihood of meaningful federal environmental regulatory reform, and the likelihood of changes to NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act.
Session Chair:

Dan Gebhart, Hibbing Taconite Co.
Marsha Patelke, NRRI



A Checklist of Laws, Rules and Contacts for Companies Exploring in Minnesota
9:00 am | Glenn Melchart, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Hibbing, MN

Citizens are more and more aware of exploration activities in their neighborhood or places they recreate and they expect complete compliance with all applicable regulations at a minimum. Compliance with all regulations related to exploration is an essential early step to establish a positive relationship with local communities and governmental units. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) developed a checklist to help exploration companies navigate the regulations and approvals needed when exploring for metallic minerals and other mineral commodities in Minnesota. The regulations and requirements vary with some land owners, mineral owners and locations. This presentation reviews the elements of the checklist.


Why Minnesota: A Guiding Question for the Redesign of the Minnesota Minerals Coordinating Committee Website
9:30 am | Don Elsenheimer, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Minerals Coordinating Committee (MCC) website, designed and published in 2011 in order to support the Mineral Diversification Program, has been redesigned using the guiding question, “Why Minnesota?� to expand the user base beyond mineral exploration companies and public/private sector geologists, and to add useful, searchable on-line plainlanguage content that targets the general public. The new website continues to archive MCCfunded content, maps, and geospatial databases. An enhanced “user experience� for mining professionals bolsters the MCC's business development activities, providing commodity specific content within searchable web pages. The redesigned MCC website also provides information about Minnesota's reclamation and permitting programs, and explores the ethical obligation for developed countries to more closely align their mineral production levels with per capita mineral consumption.
Session Chairs:

Jon Maki, Kemira
Shashi Rao, NRRI



Development of a Global Vision for Alternative Processing of Iron Ore Deposits: the Case of High Phosphorous Oolitic Iron Ores
9:00 am | Luca Tommasi, Danieli, Ronchi dei Legionari, Italy

As time goes by, the amount of high quality iron ore is almost depleted. Iron ore deposits containing different contaminants, such as Sulphur, Phosphorus, Arsenic, Titanium, and Vanadium are coming back in the spotlight. Processing of the Oolitic iron ore deposits (over 15 billion tonnes resources worldwide), still represents a challenge. Different processing routes can be applied in order to try to make it suitable for the steelmaking industry by removing the Phosphorus from the ore matrix. By the combination of different conventional and alternative beneficiation methods at the laboratory scale, DANIELI has obtained very promising results in terms of Phosphorus removal.


Review of the Most Cost Effective North American Steelmaking Routes Over the Past 10 Years and Predictions for the Future
9:30 am | Janice Bolen, Hatch Ltd., Mississauga, ON, Canada

Commodity pricing over the last ten years for iron ore, coal, coke, scrap and natural gas will be used to create historical North American iron and steel operating costs. This paper will show whether the integrated, Hot DRI-EAF, Scrap-EAF or scrap & import AIU-EAF route have been the best historical choice on an operating cost basis. Commodity pricing thresholds that give each route an advantage will be presented. This paper will use published commodity consensus pricing to examine the best steelmaking route going forward. A particular focus will be on future demand for blast furnace versus DR grade pellets in North America.
Session Chair:

Julie Marinucci, SEH Inc.



Ethical Behavior in the Digital Age
8:00 am | Kelsey Johnson, President, Iron Mining Association

Kelsey Johnson is the new president of the Iron Mining Association. Kelsey grew up in northeastern Minnesota. She has a bachelor and masters in ethics and leadership from St. Catherine University. Prior to joining the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, Kelsey was the Director of State Affairs for an international trade association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association or GMA. GMA is the world’s largest trade association representing food, beverage and consumer product manufacturers here in the United States and internationally. While at GMA, Kelsey lobbied on behalf of the food industry in 27 states across the nation and at the federal level, fought countless food related measures and helped create a grassroots campaign that lead to the eventual passage of federal legislation. Having grown up in rural Minnesota, Kelsey understands the unique needs facing rural areas of the state.

This course offers 1.0 Professional Development Hours toward ethics training as required for some professional licensures and certifications.
Closing Plenary

10:45am - 12:00pm

Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President, and CEO, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.

In the spirit of the theme, Think Global, Mine Local, Mr. Goncalves will provide his unique perspectives on recent activities in steelmaking and iron ore production in China as well as in the rest of the world. Additionally, Lourenco will hone in on the Cliffs strategy in Minnesota, including new product development with their Project Mustang initiative and their work on entering into the Electric Arc Furnace market.

Bio: Lourenco Goncalves was appointed Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. in August 2014. Since joining the company, he has implemented and has been executing a strategic initiative designed to strengthen Cliffs’ position as a major supplier of iron ore pellets to the U.S. steel industry. Mr. Goncalves brings more than 30 years of experience in the metals and mining industries, as well as extensive Board experience, in the United States and abroad. He served as Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Metals USA Holdings Corp., a leading American manufacturer and processor of steel and other metals, for over 10 years. He currently sits on the Board of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and served as a board member of Ascometal SAS, a manufacturer of special steel headquartered in Paris, France, from October 2011 to April 2014. Prior to Metals USA, Mr. Goncalves served as President and Chief Executive Officer of California Steel Industries, Inc. from March 1998 to February 2003. From 1981 to 1998 he was employed by Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional, a leading steel and mining company in Brazil, where he held several positions in operations and sales. Mr. Goncalves earned a Masters of Science degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and a Bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Military Institute of Engineering in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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