It’s no secret that Canadian winters can be brutal. But at 8,000 feet below the Ontario surface, the temperature is a toasty 82 degrees year-round.
This is Sean Kautzman’s work environment much of the time. Kautzman, MinE’00, is an engineer for Vale Inco, a large company that operates the 100-year-old Creighton Mine in the northern mining community of Sudbury, Ontario. There he splits his time between an office on the surface and the deepest reaches of the mine.
“The mines in Ontario are much deeper than those currently in operation in Missouri,” says Kautzman, who began his career working at mining sites in the Show-Me State. “The majority of the underground mines in Ontario produce gold, nickel and copper – whereas the mines in Missouri are primarily producers of lead and zinc.”
The Creighton Mine is one of the deepest in the world. But it only takes about four minutes for the elevator cage to take Kautzman down almost 8,000 feet, where nickel and copper are being excavated. Kautzman, who is in charge of things like blast design and scheduling, says there are plans to expand the mine to about 10,000 feet below the surface.
Apparently, mining engineering classes at Missouri S&T have served this blaster well. “I took the standard explosives course taught by Dr. (Paul) Worsey,” Kautzman says. “That was one of the most enjoyable courses I took at Rolla. Although the material is interesting on its own, Dr. Worsey’s enthusiasm for blasting is infectious.”
Last year, Worsey, professor of mining engineering, and Braden Lusk, MinE’00, PhD MinE’06, began work on a Discovery Channel series called “The Detonators.” The show hasn’t aired in Canada, but Kautzman says friends have sent him several episodes. “Braden and I were actually two of the founding members of S&T’s student chapter of the International Society for Explosives Engineers,” Kautzman says.