Category Archive: open-pit mining

Firwin and Chile

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, open-pit mining is a great way to extract minerals and ore from the earth, but it becomes less effective when you start exhausting materials relatively close to the surface. It is at this crucial point that entire industries must make a choice: move on to another open-pit opportunity, or start the more difficult, time consuming, and expensive process of underground mining. This very dilemma is currently playing out in the Chilean copper mining industry. For years, copper mining has been the #1 industry in Chile. In 2000, Chile produced 35% of the world’s mined copper and it accounted for 40.5% of their export earnings, which translated into 25% of their GDP.[1] In 2006 alone, Chile exported $33.3 billion worth of copper. With copper being so critical to the health and survival of the Chilean economy, it is not surprising that their mining industry has begun a very ambitious underground mining project. The state-owned Corporacion del Cobre, the world’s largest copper producer, is planning to invest $3.28 billion in just one project to extend the working life of the world’s largest underground mine by 47 years. 
Because it’s hard to imagine any kind of mining without Firwin’s outstanding insulation and safety products, we recently acquired a new distributor in Chile. By signing up with the experts at Ventas,  Firwin hopes to gain a much larger foothold in the Chilean mining market. The timing couldn’t be better, and we hope that we will be able to help keep a future generation of Chilean miners safe and protected with our wide array of insulation products.


[1] https://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Chile-MINING.html

Firwin and Mine Safety

COPIAPO, Chile where 33 miners were trapped in a collapsed mine
From August to October of 2010, it was next to impossible to watch TV for more than 10 minutes without hearing about the 33 miners trapped in a collapsed gold mine 2,300 ft below Chile’s harsh and isolated Atacama Desert. The Copiapó mining accident captivated the world even after the miners safely returned to the surface.  It not only highlighted the strength of the human spirit, but it also shined yet another light on how dangerous mining can be. This near tragedy reminded us that even in the modern world, we cannot afford to ignore basic mine safety.  
In our last blog, we discussed the basics of open pit and underground mining. Today, we are going to highlight the challenges of both styles of mining and the substantial role that Firwin plays in keeping the mining industry safe. 
Open Pit Mining
Open pits, while being overall less demanding than underground mining, carry with them their own set of challenges. As with any activity involving large equipment like multi-ton trucks, loaders, and drills you need to use insulation blankets to shield personnel, cabling, and all heat sensitive controls from extreme temperatures.  However, open pit mining also introduces the problem of excessive sound and vibration.
Many open pit mines across the world are located near population centers, especially in countries like Australia. Therefore, companies have to find a way to effectively mine, without disturbing nearby residents and businesses.  Firwin has insulation blankets that combine both temperature and noise/vibration protection, thus allowing open pit mines to run 24-7 safely and without causing local resentment and structural damage. 
Underground Mining
As the world has turned more and more to underground mining, Firwin has started to focus on developing a special line of insulation products aimed at the unique challenges of underground mining. Digging any tunnel, shaft, or adit is difficult, time consuming, expensive, and inherently dangerous. After a good deal of research and testing, Firwin created our proprietary MineWrap™ Removable Insulation Blankets expressly for underground mining.
MineWrap™ Removable Insulation Blankets
Our MineWrap™ addresses some of the less obvious areas of concern of underground mining. It protects again the dangers of hydraulic oils spills on hot engine surfaces, reduces operator burns, limits oil seepage, and can withstand extreme wear and tear. Though not as well documented as cave-ins like Copiapó, these problems can lead to equally as devastating occurrences. 
Whichever mining technique our customers utilize, they know that Firwin has the products, experience, and expertise to make the mining process safer, cleaner, and more productive. Furthermore, all of our mining insulation is custom made to fit your specific equipment and our blankets conform to UL2000 standards. If you want to learn more about our mining insulation, visit our website or contact an expert at Firwin today.