Bestech Mining Engineering grows with addition of Samantha Espley
Sudbury, ON – Nov. 11, 2020: BESTECH is delighted to formally announce that Samantha Espley has joined the BESTECH team as VP of Mining Transformation. Ms. Espley comes to BESTECH with extensive leadership experience in mining. Over the course of her career, she has developed a profile as a proud visionary and staunch advocate for the mining industry and the promotion of diversity in mining careers, which she carries into her ongoing role as President of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).
“I am honoured to join a team of highly talented, innovative personnel and help further develop unique approaches to solving challenges and providing value, not just to our clients, but to the mining industry in general,” states Ms. Espley.
Among her responsibilities with BESTECH will be leading an ambitious new initiative called The Whole Mine™, which not only encompasses a holistic view of the mining process from start to finish, but also extends out from underground.
“The Whole Mine™ is an aspirational concept and will involve the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders to benefit all, from mines to communities. It is about developing more inspiring visions of the future, and ensuring the solutions we seek align with responsible, safe, and sustainable operations,” explains Espley
In her role as President of the CIM, Ms. Espley has helped to oversee the reinforcing of CIM as a curator of world-class technical knowledge, a venue to grow and coordinate the eco-system, and as a voice to society about the essential role that mining provides. In this regard, she expresses her enthusiasm at how The Whole Mine™ concept dovetails with the CIM’s approach.
“The Whole Mine™ concept is a culmination of experience and training, and the vision and potential for our industry,” she enthuses. “From mines to communities, there is a wider set of goals and higher-level thinking needed, and I am excited to have the support of BESTECH in sharing this vision with our colleagues in the mining industry, and society at large.”
BESTECH is pleased to join its industry leading expertise in engineering, digital transformation, automation, and innovation with Ms. Espley’s passion and experience in the mining industry to leveraging The Whole Mine™ concept and their combined knowledge in arriving at transformative solutions.
“There has never been a better time to take step back, survey the big picture, apply new, unique approaches, and truly look at The Whole Mine™ as a completely interconnected system with dependencies from start to finish,” she concludes.
Samantha Espley Joins the BESTECH Team to Spearhead The Whole Mine
Samantha Espley, currently President of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), has recently joined engineering firm BESTECH as their VP, Mining Transformation. In her new role, Samantha will be afforded the opportunity to continue to advocate for the industry and promote diversity in mining careers while working with BESTECH’s team of industry-respected, highly talented, innovative personnel.
One of the key ways in which Ms. Espley will apply her extensive background in mining and leverage the BESTECH team’s unique approach to solving challenges and providing value to their clients will be in spearheading a new initiative called The Whole Mine™. In short, The Whole Mine™ concept is a culmination of Ms. Espley’s experience and training, and an aspirational vision of potential for the mining industry.
“There has never been a better time to take step back, survey the big picture, apply new, unique approaches, and truly look at The Whole Mine™ as a completely interconnected system with dependencies from start to finish,” says Ms. Espley.
To fully understand how and why this concept is at once hopeful and practical, it is helpful to have some history on the person leading the charge.
Samantha Espley’s first job in the industry was with Denison in New Brunswick, where as a young engineer in training she learned a great deal about the milling process for potash, but was also given the opportunity to participate in their great mine rescue team, where she learned how much attention is paid to safety in mining. From there, she worked at Dome and Falconbridge gold mines in Northern Quebec, giving her a love of small, mining communities, as well as exposure to new mine designs and the burgeoning use of computers and new mining software suites.
It was there that geotechnical and geo-mechanical engineering became a passion, and Samantha began to truly understand the geology and the role it plays in stability, and was exposed to the idea that technology could provide safer solutions – better drilling and blasting, better backfill, lighting, communication systems, automation and remote control, equipment, etc.
“I was fortunate as a young mining professional to be exposed to such a high degree of technological innovation early in my career. It shaped my future and work within the industry from there,” states Ms. Espley.
Also during that time, Samantha was the recipient of mentorship and friendships with women in the industry, but recognized that being a woman in mining still was not common. With a father and uncle who were in mining and encouraged her from the beginning – Espley affirms that she was an advocate for mining by the time she was 12 – she also became an advocate for women in mining early in her career, and has worked tirelessly to improve the representation of women and other minority groups in and industry that she is proud to see taking bigger steps forward, with more role models for young girls who may be interested in careers in mining.
This too is part of the Whole Mine concept – to ensure mining is reflective of society at large, and provides opportunity to people of every stripe, allowing mining to leverage the intelligence, wisdom, and strength of people of any background, gender, ethnicity, or orientation. The people, and the communities in which they live, will play a more important role than ever in mining’s future.
From an innovation in engineering and mining standpoint, Samantha’s experience of having been on the ground floor of innovation in technology provides her the experience and understanding of the path forward, integrating and pivoting as new technologies become available. Samantha has also worked extensively in research, partnering and learning from technology providers, governments, academics, front line workers, and management.
“Beyond the implementation of new technology is the understanding of the change management and culture that supports change, and also the need for sustained sponsorship of innovation and change at senior levels. It is knowing and anticipating the cyclical ups and downs and external pressures,” says Ms. Espley. “From there, we can create technology roadmaps, working with mining companies to create a vision of the possibilities from top to bottom, with all stakeholders.”
The Whole Mine™ is about developing solutions that fit the future vision for any mining operation. It is questioning and anticipating what innovations can be included in an operation today, and for tomorrow, so it is sustainable, safe, and has engineered the hazards out. The Whole Mine™ ensures the vision that is inclusive of the mine, the processing, the market, the supply chain, communities and governments, and more equitable and inspiring solutions. This requires both industry and community support.
Part of Samantha Espley’s passion for mining is what it brings to communities in the north, and coast to coast across Canada. But as she asserts, steady, incremental improvements are no longer enough. Mining companies must move toward much more inspiring visions of the future, as responsible, safe and sustainable operations. This means adopting, transforming and leveraging new solutions and rapidly moving toward the new goals as a community and industry.
According to Ms. Espley, community involvement is a huge opportunity – and risk. Having the communities in which mining activities are planned to take on board with any new project is critical. Working together on impact benefit agreements, have solutions that will benefit the community as much as the mining company, sharing the wealth, and understanding what they have to offer each other is part and parcel of the future. The requirements of the community and the company can be included in the design of a new mine from the beginning – ensuring mining is part of the solution, addressing what can be done differently, how reclaiming can happen as mining goes, reducing the footprint, etc. This is part of the license to operate, and the sharing of risk.
Samantha stresses the importance of bringing all the stakeholders to the table to arrive at sustainable solutions that are a benefit to all. In her vision of The Whole Mine™, it is possible to demonstrate to the community that a mine is going to be engineered to be more efficient and sustainable.
“Companies are putting this forward as an imperative strategic objective, and license to operate is truly one of the greatest risks. Can the mining companies have the communities behind them, and what is required? Public consultation, communications, awareness, transparency, how and when are things happening, what the effects will be, what people can expect, and ensuring they understand the benefits. This is just as important as the mining cycle. The same holistic vision we take to make step changes that improve operations and productivity must be applied to what happens outside the mine as well,” says Ms. Espley.
She does assert a firmly held belief, the results of hundreds of conversations with mining executives, influencers, and industry leaders, that there is a genuine desire to connect with the community, to have safe, environmentally friendly solutions, to bring new technologies to the table, and to have employees who will embrace and adopt new technologies and solutions.
“Inspired leadership and vision for the future, examining what is possible to achieve results that are greater than incremental gains. Under The Whole Mine™ concept, the solutions we are seeking fit a longer-term vision and leverages and engages a wide spectrum of stakeholders, to benefit all. From mines to communities, there is a wider set of goals and higher-level thinking needed, and I know there is an appetite at the senior levels in this industry, and the up and coming thought leaders, to ensure it happens,” concludes Ms. Espley
As BESTECH’s VP, Mining Transformation, Samantha Espley is perfectly positioned to share The Whole Mine™ concept, and use her influence to make it a movement to carry mining into a bright future for all.
FROSKR to help miners find the right profit and social responsibility balance
BESTECH Engineering has spun off another one of its divisions, with FROSKR, focused on helping companies understand and mitigate environmental impacts before they occur, the latest name to join the Canada-based mining equipment technology and services space.
FROSKR, an INOVINTA Company, comes from the ancient Norse word for frog. The company explains: “FROSKR is a new take on what it means to be confident and compliant when dealing with complex environmental issues. A sensitive indicator species, frogs breathe partially, and drink fully, through their skin. When the environment suffers, so do frogs. A healthy frog population means sustained environmental health and stability. A project with FROSKR means just the same.”
Kati McCartney, President of FROSKR, says the company’s innovative technology and consulting services help clients cut through the complexity of compliance, protect employees and the environment, build confidence in communities, and optimise productivity and profit.
“That means you don’t have to choose between productivity, profit or social responsibility,” she said. “You just have to choose FROSKR.”
The company comes out of BESTECH, which has been providing real-time data with its AQM™ technology since 2003. AQM is an ambient air monitoring system that offers a variety of options for acquiring and distributing data to various environmental and operational stakeholders. The system delivers data rapidly from various field locations providing instant feedback to current and ongoing production systems required to control emissions stemming from operations, according to the company.
In addition to having the support of BESTECH, another INOVINTA Company, the company can also leverage research and development from SHYFTinc, an automation and software-focused entity, and FORTAI, focused on inventory management.
Made-in-the-North technologies are reducing the mining industry’s carbon footprint
Kati McCartney is out to “change the conversation” that the mining industry is contributing to the Earth’s climate change crisis.
The president of FROSKR, a Sudbury-based environmental consulting firm, said the negative reputation and media attention that often casts the mineral sector in a bad light has largely been earned over the years.
“Mining does have this perception that persists globally that it’s harmful for the environment,” said McCartney, “and can you blame them?”
Climate change is serious threat, she said, but a more responsible movement in mining provides a solution.
McCartney took part in a virtual Prospector and Developers Association of Canada presentation this week, offering some climate change solutions by Northern Ontario’s mining industry.
“Mining plays a critical role in our new energy economy.”
Though it sounds contradictory that mining helps the environment, McCartney said the path to de-carbonization for the planet requires minerals to manufacture technologies like batteries, wind turbines and solar photovoltaics.
Her company provides smart mining solutions that help mining operations reduce their carbon footprint.
FROSKR is a spinoff company from Bestech Engineering, now under the umbrella of the Inovinta Group of Companies. The company provides air quality monitoring systems to mining companies in the Sudbury basin, enabling them to observe their sulphur dioxide emissions in real time through a network of remote sensing devices.
Her firm also works with miners on compliance issues, such as environmental baseline studies, permitting, mine closure plans and community engagement in supporting the international industry movement toward more responsible mining.
One of the best examples of how mining has cleaned up its act is the introduction – and increasing adoption – of underground battery electric vehicles (BEV). MacLean Engineering, a Sudbury and Collingwood manufacturer of BEVs, is leading the way.
“Northern Ontario is a leader in creating battery electric vehicles and getting them into market,” said Tara MacLean, product manager at MacLean.
Many in the mining industry have pledged to create more environmentally friendly products, she said. And the federal government is now providing tax subsidies to those industrial sectors that adopt battery-powered vehicles for their fleets.
Since their first BEV went out the shop door in 2016, MacLean has more than 30 vehicles working underground at 10 mine sites across Canada, racking up 70,000 operating hours over that period.
Fifteen are deployed at Newmont Gold’s Borden Mine near Chapleau. Nine are on the job in the Sudbury basin.
The Borden Mine, anointed as the “mine of the future,” runs an entirely underground battery fleet using MacLean vehicles, creating a quieter mine and a more environmentally friendly one with a lower carbon footprint.
Deploying a battery-powered fleet instead of diesel reduces the risk of hydrocarbon spills at Borden, she said.
Without having to vent diesel particulate from below ground, Newmont could install a modern ventilation-on-demand system that reduces the size of ducting and the number of fans to circulate fresh air in the mine, as well as save costs on energy consumption.
Borden’s environmental footprint measures only 410 tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere every year, compared to other mine sites, using diesel fleets, that emit in excess of 30,000 tonnes annually.
As battery technology evolves, the company continues to keep tabs by measuring the performance of their machines at work.
Last summer, MacLean ran an equipment trial at an underground mine in British Columbia where the MacLean team logged more than 360 hours in monitoring the data telemetry coming off one of its machines.
Of the total energy used by the vehicle, 25 per cent of the electricity – about 2.1 megawatts – was being generated by the machine itself.
“As the machine is going down-ramp, they’re actually regenerating power coming back into the machine that’s able to be used,” said MacLean.
A diesel-powered machine would’ve burned 5,000 litres of fuel during the same trial period, amounting to 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide released, compared to 0.2 per cent from an electric vehicle.
“As we move from completely diesel fleets to completely electric fleets, we’ve completely changed the makeup of mine sites and how much energy is going into a mine site and how much carbon dioxide is coming out of a mine site,” she said.
Since cars and batteries are made of minerals, MacLean said her technology can create an environmentally friendly cycle and start the mining industry down a carbon-neutral path.
Q: How do INOVINTA’s companies add value to clients more easily than a unified operation under the same company?
TS: INOVINTA is a group of companies that originally started as BESTECH, an engineering firm, when it was founded 25 years ago. The company evolved into a multidisciplinary engineering firm that offered cutting-edge solutions around deep mining, power generation, civil engineering, structural consulting and the typical engineering disciplines. What we found early on was that there was never really a clear message to our industry about what type of company we were. Depending on who you were talking to, they thought either we did products, or we offered environmental services, or they thought we were an environmental firm, or an engineering firm, and so on. So, a couple of years ago, in order to clarify that message, as well as set us up for success and growth on a long-term basis, we decided to start spinning out some of these different companies.
One of our companies is called BESTECH, which is a multidisciplinary engineering firm that works locally and internationally. BESTECH’s specialization in mining, infrastructure and power has allowed us to work in Chile, Peru, South Africa, USA, Canada and Mexico.
Another company is SHYFTinc, which is a provider of technology solutions. Its main focus relates to transformative solutions for the mining industry. We are looking at different solutions to implement a big change in productivity, and to provide the ability to access remote locations and deeper mining.
Another company we created up is FROSKR, which is primarily an environmental services company. It offers traditional sustainability work. The company also has cutting-edge solutions for remote monitoring.
FORTAI provides inventory management solutions to the mining industry, including solutions like logistics studies and manufacturing technology under development.
And lastly, we have INOVINTA, which is the one that ties all the companies together. INOVINTA also provides services such as legal, accounting and HR. Recently, we branded it as a think tank or idea factory.
Q: How does the ADMMIT solution function and what benefits does it offer the mining market?
TS: The ADMMIT system allows for proper inventory management and monitoring. It secures inventory and allows for location tracking. The goal of the electronic kit is not to make the big steel boxes; instead, it is about putting technology on those boxes that already preexist. Once the hardware has been installed, you can track who has access, as well as the location of the container. The security is provided through the electronics that we designed, where you have user authentication, meaning, you know who has access to it and when and what has been removed or taken from the SmartCube. It is also designed to be tracked anywhere with cellphone coverage. We are also looking at options to be able to track via GPS globally. In addition, you can also track it underground. We are seeing that mining companies are ordering three times the inventory they need to account for those potential losses. Our technologies are designed to prevent this.
Q: How does FROSKR help its clients reach their ESG Goals?
MB: ESG is a big undertaking. It has always been top of mind for our clients. FROSKR is an environmental company that helps clients operate their systems, design their programs and apply for environmental permits. We also have an entire mining program through our BESTECH company. We have entire documents on the website, such as The Whole Mine that describes 12 aspects of mining including ESG practices that you need to keep in mind when creating a new mine. We engage with our clients from the very beginning of a mine design and we consider how that project and the related governance fits within the framework of the community that belongs it to. Our team is there to help lay down the foundation of the project.
Take, for instance, our experts who have developed guidelines on battery electric vehicle design. Now, we are helping many of our clients that have existing diesel-based fleets. We are helping them to understand how to transition out of that world into a battery electric fleet. What does it look like? What are the systems that you must have on site to be able to support the new fleet? These are among the questions we are helping them answer. We are definitely helping many of our clients with the transition to cleaner solutions.
Q: What opportunities has INOVINTA seen in the Mexican mining industry?
MB: Our RenixUIX solution is about helping our clients manage water very differently. That technology allows our customers to consider recycling the water they use. The Mexican marketplace, and especially the mining industry, would be extremely interested in this technology from the perspective that water is hard to obtain. In addition to that, our technologies are there to help the productivity of our clients. We are looking for clients who are not 100 percent happy with their productivity and their existing performance. We are looking for those that want to make changes to their workflow.
Q: What is an example of a success story for INOVINTA?
TS: One of our most recent success stories is with one of our products called NRG1-ECO, which is a mine-wide energy management solution. The benefits provided by NRG1-ECO are related to the control mechanism, such Manual, Scheduled and Environmental Events as well as Tagging Integration. Each provides savings and productivity gains. One of our clients ended up adopting it in all of their North Atlantic sites. We have seen huge savings for this client in their ability to lower gas clearing time. We saw savings ranging from US$2 million to US$5 million, depending on specific applications, and that is just straight up electricity costs. There are quite a few potential productivity gains from just one or two components of our system. Truth be told, sometimes there is no monetary value that can be placed on an hour’s worth of productivity gains. When you have over 300 miners on standby because of bad air quality, our solutions allow for faster blast clearing time and that provides a huge benefit in terms of productivity.
Q: How is INOVINTA helping its client prepare for the future of mining?
MB: The philosophy behind our innovative solutions is transformation. Mining is essentially an underground city with thousands of moving parts. So, we are looking at changing the logistics of how these parts move and looking to transform the process into a seamlessly continuous and sustainable operation.
What we bring to the table is a very intimate knowledge of underground mines and how they work and how they are built because it is not the same as having technology on the surface. We provide our clients with deep knowledge and an understanding of the environment that our technologies operate in.
INOVINTA is a company that focuses on developing new technological, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and distribution ideas and products to improve industrial processes.