"In the past, the mining industry was sometimes slow to adopt new technology, but that’s been changing in recent years. We’re seeing electric mines, autonomous equipment and energy initiatives. We’re lucky to be a part of it and we’re excited about the future."
Can you give an overview of Black Rock Engineering and the history of the company?
We have been operating as Black Rock for the past five years, but prior to that, we were part of Ionic Engineering and we remain part of the Ionic Technology Group. Today, our focus is on engineering consulting for mining, heavy industry and some commercial and municipal clients. Our strengths are in the mechanical, electrical, automation and energy areas. Black Rock’s dedicated team of engineers, designers and project managers boasts decades of experience from new construction to brownfield projects to feasibility and reliability studies.
We started during a downturn in the mining industry, but our business has developed significantly over the last few years. Spinning out from Ionic Engineering was definitely the right decision as it gave us our own identity and the ability to do things our own way. Consulting engineering is different from machine design and by spinning off we can now focus on our core strengths.
What services does Black Rock offer in each of its core strength areas?
Mechanically, Black Rock prides itself in our vast capabilities with mechanical equipment and infrastructure. Some of our core capabilities within this area include mine dewatering, HVAC, slurry pumping and piping, compressor systems, bulk materials handling, pneumatics and hydraulics, machine safety systems, and more. We were involved in an interesting dewatering project for Lakeshore Gold. This was an energy project where we reviewed dewatering systems and how they could be made more efficient in terms of energy consumption.
Our electrical and automation group is mainly involved in power distribution, power management, battery storage systems, process controls, instrumentation and automation. We are currently working on a project where we are implementing battery charging stations for an underground mine. Through implementing battery storage solutions, energy studies, backup generator systems, monitoring and targeting, and energy management services, Black Rock can reduce our client’s energy costs while improving their processes.
Black Rock also has a strong focus on innovation. What type of technologies do you work with?
Black Rock has successfully implemented automation systems in some of the toughest environments. We did the detailed design for Electrale Innovation’s hydraulic air compressor demonstration plant, and we are also working in collaboration with Ionic Mechatronics as the first certified SafeBox integrator. SafeBox takes the principles of machine safety and applies them to industrial applications. In a plant with multiple crushers and conveyors, we were able to implement the technology so that the entire system can be shut down and safely isolated with the push of one button. SafeBox saves our clients’ time and money while making the work environment safer.
In the past, the mining industry was sometimes slow to adopt new technology, but that’s been changing in recent years. We’re seeing electric mines, autonomous equipment and energy initiatives. We’re lucky to be a part of it and we’re excited about the future.
Can you elaborate on the work Black Rock has done with North American Palladium?
Black Rock worked with North American Palladium on an underground fueling station, including the transfer of diesel from surface to the underground space. One of the challenges was that we could not allow excessive pressure to build up in the fuel pipe, which was accomplished by measuring and limiting the flow. Even though it was a mechanical piping project, the controls were extremely important.
What are Black Rock’s principal objectives and vision moving forward?
Client-focus is one of Black Rock’s core values. We help various mining clients, big or small, with any phase of their project, from the predesign phase to post construction. Black Rock is focused on the needs of its clients and will work according to their requirements. We understand the challenges that our clients face and we are confident in our ability to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions. We take engineering design and quality very seriously and adhere not only to our clients’ safety and quality standards, but also our own stringent standards. Black Rock has seen significant growth and we would like to continue on this stable growth trajectory.