Searching for sustainable solutions

Cypher Environmental Ltd., headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, offers sustainable solutions to mine sites around the world

by Jillian Clark
Cypher Environmental is continuously searching for new ways to improve efficiency on mine sites with environmentally friendly products.

Cypher Environmental is continuously searching for new ways to improve efficiency on mine sites with environmentally friendly products. — photo courtesy Cypher Environmental Ltd.

Cypher Environmental creates environmentally friendly solutions for common mining industry problems. Their products promote sustainability through increased efficiency on mine sites.

“Cypher Environmental engineers premium dust control, soil stabilization and water remediation solutions to serve a growing global economy that needs to adapt to ever-increasing environmental standards,” said Todd Burns, president and owner. At the same time, “all our solutions are environmentally friendly in terms of using biodegradable, renewable or non-toxic inputs, but they also all solve environmental issues.”

An eco-friendly focus translates to increased productivity for many mine site problems.

“Knowing that my company is making an impact on the environment feels good at the end of the day.”

Simple products—noticeable results

When considering aspects of a mine that could benefit from increased efficiency, we don’t typically think of clay and dust on roadways. Cypher Environmental addresses these seemingly small issues, and produces substantial results.

“Dust is a health and environmental hazard, and a productivity issue for mines because it is actually pieces of the road floating away,” Burns said.

Repairing and replacing roads costs time, money and resources. Previously, dust was controlled by water, which is a huge waste of water, fuel and manpower to maintain the roadways.

“It produces a huge amount of greenhouse gasses,” said Burns. Cypher Environmental created Dust Stop to solve this problem. Clay is another problem on mine sites.

“When it’s wet, it swells and loses its strength. It requires a lot of maintenance, so a lot of energy is consumed maintaining the roads,” Burns said.

Traditionally, other materials are brought to a project to construct roads in areas with a lot of clay present. Their EarthZyme product solves these problems by stabilizing the clay.

When mixed with clay and compacted onto the road, the result is stable roads, which in turn increase productivity and efficiency in measurements like rolling resistance of vehicles using the roads. Other products deal with issues like oilsands tailings and repurposing slag.

Always searching for solutions

Essentially, Cypher Environmental looks for ways to repurpose and minimize mine site waste. The company's team of researchers is continuously developing new products that provide solutions to the issues faced by the mining industry. In addition to its own team, Cypher Environmental has a unique partnership with Red River College in Winnipeg. Cypher Environmental has access to the school’s laboratories, and often works with interns and summer students. A lot of the time, these students are hired for full-time positions.

“I’m actually a graduate myself,” said Burns. The company's current formal research project with Red River College focuses on the rolling resistance of haul trucks on mine site roads.

“We’re very interested in learning how our different products applied to different types of soil with different application rates impact rolling resistance at a lab scale, so we can start introducing it at a higher level to our clients,” Burns said. This partnership gives the mining industry real sustainability solutions, and the students involved real-life experience. The real-world applications that this research is trying to find will benefit mining companies in Canada and abroad. “We’re excited about that because anything that can help mines reduce their energy consumption is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now,” said Burns. Everyone hauls materials around their sites, so efficient transportation is a good place to start.

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