When people usually think of mine shafts, they tend to picture workers starting at the surface and moving downward to the resources that lie below. But Arkbro Industries has found success by offering mining clients the products that allow them to create mine shafts – “raises” in mining terms – from the bottom up.
Based in Mississauga, Ontario, Arkbro Industries designs and manufactures mining construction equipment and offers raise mine services. President Evan Mamas says the company’s history goes back to 1967, when his family opened a fabrication and machine shop.
In the late 1970s, the firm started custom manufacturing raise mine equipment. “They realized the need for these products, especially in Ontario, where mining is a lot of mining activity is taking place,” he says.
Today, Arkbro Industries serves such high-profile customers as Redpath Mining, Cementation, Barrick Gold and Anglogold Ashanti. “[Our clients] would be the people who actually use our equipment,” Mamas says. “They buy it and set it up on multiple job sites.”
Listening to its clients drives Arkbro’s success. “You can only take a good guess on what would help them become more productive,” he says. “Once you listen to their feedback, you can make them more productive and happier. They can work safer, ask for more products, more services and give you more feedback. In the end, it’s all about earning the trust of your customers by offering great product and support.”
According to Mamas, the easiest and most productive way of opening shafts is to do it from the bottom up. This method, known as raise mining, is based on a drill and blast approach and is very flexible in terms of shaft size, shape and incline. Raise mining consists of a cycle of four activities: drilling and charging, blasting, ventilating and scaling.
The Raise Climber has been developed to make raise mining safe and productive. Both miners and equipment are protected during the operation. Rock removal is also very efficient because “the material falls down and you push it out of the way,” Mamas describes. “You let gravity do the work for you.”
To create the shaft, Arkbro Industries’ customers would install one of the company’s rail climbers, which allow them to travel up and down the shaft on a platform and a cage. The most popular of these products is the air-driven Raise Climber ABI-5A, which is used to drive vertical or inclined raises in underground mining, hydro projects and civil constructions. The ABI-5A also is extremely safe, Mamas says.
“Multiple parts of our climber will prevent the system from ever falling,” he notes. “Even if the drive system collapses, the platform will not free fall, due to a separate safety device.”
Mamas represents the second generation of his family to lead Arkbro Industries. He started working at the company part time in 1993 as he attended the University of Toronto. Twelve years later, he joined the firm full time. Today, he is proud of his staff, including General Manager and Sales Manager Mohammed Alwazani. “He has been key in driving this part of the company forward,” Mamas describes. “He is in contact with all the customers. He knows that they need the technical sales component, [and] Mohammed can advise them on what is the best for their application.”
Looking ahead, Mamas sees more developments in Arkbro Industries’ future. “There are lots of changes coming to the product line that will make [our products] more productive, safer and easier to use,” he says.