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John A Chapman mining the moon 20060723


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NASA has announced a schedule and plan for the creation of a lunar base within 16 years as a precursor to establishing a base on Mars. Space agencies from Europe, Japan, India and China have …

NASA has announced a schedule and plan for the creation of a lunar base within 16 years as a precursor to establishing a base on Mars. Space agencies from Europe, Japan, India and China have expressed support for the NASA plan and/or their separate plans for a lunar base. This plan to explore and inhabit the Moon and then Mars is driven by the triple goals of scientific research, lunar/asteroid resource extraction and saving the earthbound human species from eventual extinction by asteroid/comet impact or super-volcano eruption. This paper proposes the application, on the Moon, of equipment and mining methods already well proven on Earth in very cold and dusty environments. The authors present an innovative combination of existing technologies for exploration and mining, including: mobile equipment, spare parts, sample analysis, remote controls, semi-autonomous controls, remote equipment "health" monitoring, real-time precision location and guidance, and the use of broadband WiMAX for communication to and from the proposed lunar base and Earth's Internet.

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  • 1. 8th ILEWG CONFERENCE ON EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION OF THE MOON New Century Hotel, BEIJING, CHINA 23-27 July 2006 Cosponsored by CNSA and ILEWG Development and Operation of a Surface Mine in a Remote Location - South Polar Region of the Moon John Chapman, J.A. Chapman Mining Services; Marc Schulte, Marc Schulte Mining ServicesNASA has announced a schedule and plan for the creation of a lunar base within 16 years as a precursor to establishing abase on Mars. Space agencies from Europe, Japan, India and China have expressed support for the NASA plan and/or theirseparate plans for a lunar base. This plan to explore and inhabit the Moon and then Mars is driven by the triple goals ofscientific research, lunar/asteroid resource extraction and saving the earthbound human species from eventual extinction byasteroid/comet impact or super-volcano eruption. This paper proposes the application, on the Moon, of equipment andmining methods already well proven on Earth in very cold and dusty environments. The authors present an innovativecombination of existing technologies for exploration and mining, including: mobile equipment, spare parts, sample analysis,remote controls, semi-autonomous controls, remote equipment "health" monitoring, real-time precision location andguidance, and the use of broadband WiMAX for communication to and from the proposed lunar base and Earths Internet. REFERENCESLewis, J.S., Mining the Sky, Addison-Wesley, Reading, 1997. AUTHORSJohn A. Chapman, B.Sc., FCIM, is a Professional Mining Engineer (British Columbia). He has worked 41 years in themining industry in operations, engineering and as an executive. He has been instrumental in the development of severalsurface mines in Canada - some in adverse northern locations. He also has worked in heavy construction on the DEW line inthe Canadian Arctic and is a proficient operator of most large mining equipment.Marc Schulte, B.Sc. is a Mining Engineer in Training (EIT, Alberta). He has worked five years in the mining industry as asurveyor, mine planner, and a heavy mobile equipment supplier. His mining experience has been in mountain coal and metal,prairie strip, oil sands and hard rock diamonds - all in Western and Northern Canada.
  • 2. Development and Operation of a Surface Mine in a Remote Location - South Polar Region of the Moon John Chapman, J.A. Chapman Mining Services; Marc Schulte, Marc Schulte Mining ServicesINTRODUCTION:NASA has announced a schedule and a plan for the creation of a permanent lunar base within 16 years as a precursor toestablishing a base on Mars. Space agencies from Europe, Japan, India and China have expressed support for the NASA planand/or their separate plans for a lunar base. This plan to explore and inhabit the Moon and then Mars is driven by the triplegoals of: (1) saving the earthbound human species from eventual extinction by asteroid/comet impact or supervolcanoeruption, (2) scientific research, and (3) lunar resource extraction. To be successful the enterprise will need to embraceinnovative methods of financing, transportation, mining, processing, habitation, communications and power generation.Wherever possible equipment, systems and procedures already commonly used on Earth should be adopted (with only minormodification, as required) in order to reduce costs and risks.THE RISK TO HUMANS AS A SINGLE PLANET SPECIES:John Young, Apollo Astronaut, in his opening remarks at the 2003 Lunar Conference in Hawaii said that, "humans cannotsurvive as a single planet species as evidenced in the Earths fossil record of mass extinctions, mainly by comet/asteroidimpacts and supervolcano eruptions". The most recent mass extinction (more than 75% of species destroyed) occurred 65million years ago at what is called the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (Favstovsky et al, 2005). The scientific community hasstudied this event very thoroughly and they have located what is believed to be the impact center called the Chicxulub Crateron the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. They have speculated that the collision event was caused by the impact ofan asteroid as they identified a pervasive thin dust layer, with an anomalously high concentration of iridium (common tocertain asteroids) at the K-T boundary, spread around the Earth. They estimate the size of the asteroid at approximately 10km diameter based upon the size of the crater (~150 km diameter). There are at least five other mass extinction eventsrecorded in the geological record dating back to the late Cambrian, approximately 500 million years ago. Experts, includingNASA, have observed and catalogued about 1,100 near-Earth objects measuring more than one kilometre in diameter. TheInternational Astronomical Union has recently set up a special task force to specifically focus on threats from near-Earthobjects. Expanding this database of near-Earth objects crowding the Earths neighborhood will help in producing an earlywarning system and perhaps focus the urgency to study methods of intercepting and deflecting potential impactors. About74,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano erupted and ejected almost three times as much volcanic ash as the most recentmajor Yellowstone eruption at Lava Creek (~630,000 years ago) and about 12% more ash than Yellowstones largest eruptionat Huckleberry Ridge (~1.8 million years ago). Tobas super-eruption ejected several thousand times more material thanerupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, leaving a 2,800 square kilometre caldera (Knight et al, 1986). Toba rained downapproximately 15 cm of ash over the entire Indian subcontintent and may have caused a planet wide die-off. It is possiblethat Tobas super eruption created an Earth-wide high-atmosphere dust cloud creating a global cold spell (~3.50 C decline)that might explain a mystery in the human genome. Recent mitochondrial DNA work suggests that the human race haspassed through a genetic "bottleneck" within the Toba timeframe. It is estimated that the human population was reduced, atthat time, to a few thousand individuals.LUNAR RESOURCES:Significant amounts of scientific research have been directed at the Moon, principally since the USA (Apollo) and the SovietUnion (Luna) commenced their lunar programs in the 1960s. Ever increasing amounts of data, at increasingly higherresolutions, have been collected during and since the Apollo program. SDIOs Clementine (1994) and NASAs LunarProspector (1998-1999) remote sensing satellites have mapped the Moons topographic surface, magnetic field, gravitationalfield and the distribution of some molecules and/or elements (mainly looking for water). ISAS’s Hiten (1990-1993) satelliteconducted guidance and navigation experiments to prepare for future lunar and asteroid missions. At this time the EuropeanSpace Agencys SMART 1 remote sensing satellite, propelled by a highly innovative electric engine expelling xenon gas ions,is in a lunar polar orbit and is capturing high resolution images in visible, near-infrared and X-ray wavelengths. In addition,it is pioneering the use of very high bandwidth optical communications (laser) as well as unique navigation hardware andsoftware for autonomous navigation (tracking stars, planets, asteroids and the Moon). Many more very high-technologylunar satellite orbital missions are planned leading up to the first robotic landings scheduled in 2010 and human landings in2016. In order of planned launches the satellites are: Chandrayaan-1 (ISRO, 2007), ChangE (CNSA, 2007), Selene (JAXA,2007) and LRO (NASA, 2008). All this activity is related to establishing a lunar base that could service Earths satellite fleetand provide a shallow-gravity-well fuel facility (pit-stop) for space ship launches to Mars and beyond. Lunar gravity isapproximately 1/6 that of Earths (g = 1.62 m/s2) and it has a considerable asymmetry causing low altitude satellites to beinherently unstable, requiring active propulsive corrections. In preparation for landing human and related support 1 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 3. exploration, mining and processing equipment payloads on the Moon, NASA is designing a new heavy lift launch vehiclecalled Ares V as part of its Constellation Program. The versatile heavy-lifting Ares V is a two-stage vertically stackedunmanned launch system. The launch vehicle can carry 130,000 kg to low Earth orbit and 64,000 kg to the Moon. Thecomplementary Ares I crew launch vehicle, an in-line two-stage rocket configuration topped by a Crew Exploration Vehicle,is being designed to carry the astronauts to low Earth orbit for assembly with the Ares V payload for transit to the Moon. TheAres I and V launch system load capacity to the Moon exceeds that of the Saturn 5 system (49,000 kg) that was theworkhorse of NASAs Apollo lunar program.Lunar resource extraction is focused upon the essential elements hydrogen and oxygen. These elements (H and O) ormolecules (H2 and O2) are required for support of human life ("air" and water), rocket propellants, fuel cells (mobile andstationary), agriculture and aquaculture. Based upon NASAs Apollo and Soviet Union lunar program sampling, and morerecent remote sensing, it appears that the lunar regolith contains O (~41%) and H2 (55 ppm) in concentrations that could berecoverable. However, extraction of the O requires sophisticated methods as it occurs in the mineral ilmenite. Hydrogen, onthe other hand, is in the form of an adsorbed volatile (H2) but it does occur in only low concentration. The real prize thenwould be to discover water ice (high-grade and easy to process) in the regolith - that however, is not likely to occur anywhereother than within deep permanently shadowed craters at or very near the lunar polar regions (cold traps), as defined byClementine and Lunar Prospector missions. The lunar crater cold traps offer a significant challenge to human entry due to avery low ambient temperature at -2330 C. Clementine beamed radio waves into the Moon and echoes of these waves wereobtained by the large dish antennas of the Deep Space Network on Earth and it was found that the cold trap regions aroundthe South Pole have the reflectance properties of ice, rather than the ground up rock powder characteristics of the lunarsurface outside the cold traps. Water ice reflects brightly similar to a headlight reflector on a bicycle fender due totranslucent internal reflections. Lunar Prospector clearly showed an enrichment of hydrogen (H) in polar regions but couldnot determine whether it was in the form of water ice (H2O), molecular hydrogen (H2), elemental hydrogen (H), or someother form. The water ice issue remains highly controversial and can only be solved by more remote sensing and yet to beperformed robotic sampling.Potentially the highest value element on the Moon is He-3 an He isotope that when fused with deuterium forms He-4, oneproton and an immense amount of fusion energy. One kilogram of He-3 burned with 0.67 kg of deuterium yields 166 millionkW-hr of energy. As the entire USA electricity consumption is ~3.75 TW-hr it follows that only 25 t of He-3 could powerthe entire USA for one year, translating to a He-3 fuel value FOB Earth of about $1.0 billion per t. However, there aredifficulties: (1) testing has not yet demonstrated any operations well above the break-even point in a fusion reactor, and (2)He-3 occurs in the lunar regolith at a very low concentration of ~5 ppb in the form of an adsorbed volatile (similar to H2).The mining operation would need to excavate and process 200 million t of regolith to recover one t of He-3 – that equates tomining the top two metres of a region 8 km square, using a regolith bulk density of 1.6 t/m3. The proponents of He-3 willneed to find much higher concentrations of the element before it can be seriously considered a commercially viable fuelsource. Reference Schmitt 2006.As geologists on Earth know - there is always the potential to make some new and exciting mineral or elemental depositdiscovery. This will almost certainly be the case on the Moon.FINANCING OF SPACE RESEARCH, EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT:Financing of space research, exploration and development in the past has been mainly by governments. To create a vibrantand sustainable space program the private sector needs to lead the charge, building upon the foundation established by mainlythe USA and Soviet Union governments. There is an analog that could point the way to rapidly opening space to privateenterprise – that is the Canadian flow-through tax incentive for mineral exploration. The flow-through tax credit program inCanada has facilitated the raising of billions of dollars yearly, mainly from wealthy individuals, by the exploring companies –and this has kept Canada in the forefront of world mineral exploration and mine development. In addition, Canada has,through this tax incentive, “grown” a large base of experts in science, technology, legal, accounting, finance, etc. for mineralexploration and mine development world wide. Statistics from the 2005 Canadian intergovernmental working group on themineral industry reported: (1) globally, Canada continues to be the foremost destination for exploration capital. In 2004some 20% of the mineral exploration programs planned by the world’s mining companies were expected to be conducted inCanada. As for Canadian companies, they were expected to undertake 43% of all the exploration programs in the world in2004, a share that is by far the largest of the global mineral exploration market, and (2) in 2003 C$12.7 billion in equityfinancing was raised for mineral exploration and development projects around the world during that year. More than 45% ofthe new funds raised were for companies listed on the Canadian stock exchanges. These are amazing statistics as Canadaonly represents 7% of the land area on Earth, and only 0.5% of the world’s population. It is important to understand thedetails of the tax-driven incentive that encourages the exploration and development of Canadian natural resources - thegovernment allows Canadian natural resource companies to issue common shares that entitle the holder to certain tax 2 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 4. benefits. These shares are called flow-through shares. Canadian natural resource companies have certain expenses, known asCanadian Exploration Expenses (CEE), which can be deducted 100% for tax purposes by the purchasers of flow-throughshares. In addition to benefiting a taxpayer in the current taxation year, these tax deductions can be carried back three yearsand carried forward seven years. In addition, there is also a 15% tax credit available to investors anywhere in Canada for"grass roots" mining exploration expenses incurred in Canada - this applies only to mining of metals and minerals and not forextraction of oil and gas. For investors in every province and territory of Canada, the tax credit is at least 15% as long as the"grass roots" mining exploration occurs somewhere in Canada. In addition, some (but not all) of the provinces and territorieshave added their own tax credit, ranging from 5% in Ontario to 20% in British Columbia. The provincial tax credit onlyapplies if the investor is resident in the province and the exploration occurs in the same province. In addition to benefiting ataxpayer in the current taxation year, these tax credits can be carried back three years and carried forward 10 years. Justimagine the impact of the USA adopting a similar tax-driven incentive for space research, exploration and development –tens of billions of dollars would be raised annually for space enterprises.THE DRIVE TO EXPLORE AND DISCOVER (ADVENTURE):Humans have a genetic "wiring" that drives exploration (risk) for discovery (reward) of new places and things - the Earth nolonger holds either the exploration potential or the rewards needed by society. In addition, there is a compelling need toavoid the asteroid/comet hazard - it is time to move on to the rest of the Solar System and beyond into the Cosmos.DETERMINING THE BEST LOCATION FOR A LUNAR MINING BASE:Based upon remote sensing the most promising region identified for the first lunar mining base is in the South Polar Regionnear Malapert Mountain (Figure 1). Remote sensing has located what may be water ice (the single most important resource)in permanently shadowed craters near Malapert. The Mountain peak offers an ideal site for optical (laser) relaying of databetween the lunar base and Earth (2.6 second round trip communications time). Malapert, while on the edge of the “FarSide” of the Moon, is high enough to be in constant view of the Earth (enabling direct laser communications) and it receivessunlight approximately 90% of the time, making it one of the “sunniest” locals on the Moon. Another advantage of thisRegion is the moderate temperature in the highlands at -530 C +/-100, compared with the permanently shadowed craters at-2330 C +/-00 and the equator at -180 C +/-1400. The long duration sunlight at Malapert will facilitate solar-electric powergeneration to power communications equipment. Solar spectra power density at Malapert is ~1.37 kW/m2. The ShoemakerCrater, at 420 East Longitude, 880 South Latitude appears to be a prime candidate for water ice within direct view of Malapert(~90 km from peak to Crater center) as the orbiting Lunar Prospector had detected high hydrogen abundance in the Crater.This Crater was originally named “Mawson” - the name was changed when the Lunar Prospector satellite was crashed intothe Crater on July 31, 1999 in an attempt to evaporate water ice with the kinetic energy of impact (unfortunately no plumewas visible from Earth). Lunar Prospector was carrying the ashes of the late Eugene M. Shoemaker (1928-1997) renownedgeologist and astronomer.Work done by Bussey et al (2003) indicates that at 88 degrees Latitude a crater of ~20 km diameter will have a permanentcircular central shadow area in the crater bottom representing ~80% +/-15% (summer to winter variation) of the crater floor,depending upon the height and regularity of the crater rim. The permanent shadow percentage (cold trap) is only slightlydependent upon the crater diameter; it is Latitude that is the significant dependent variable. Depending upon the temperatureof the area (around the outside edge of the crater floor) that is in sunlight, this may be the logical place to commence regolithresource testing and then mining. It is important to recognize that the lunar day is equal to 29.53 Earth days (synodic period).If the sunlit region in the Shoemaker Crater is similar in temperature range to the South Polar highland region of -530 C +/-100, then this would be an ideal place to start a lunar mining base assuming the resource is confirmed. What makes this anideal place to start is that it will facilitate H2 and O2 extraction from the sunlit regolith and at the same time place the base ofoperations in close proximity, on near level terrain, to the cold trap at the Crater center - the possible source of high-gradewater ice. Once the lunar base is well established in the sunlit area of the Shoemaker Crater floor, short excursions withunmanned remote controlled and/or autonomous vehicles could be made into the cold trap areas to test for water ice. Thisprocedure would allow the lunar base team to incrementally "harden" the exploration, and ultimately the mining equipment,for more aggressive long duration operations into the cold traps. NASA’s LRO in 2008 will provide South Polar Regiondigital topographic and temperature models in resolutions that will greatly assist in planning a lunar mining base – then onlythe resource determination is required within topographic and temperature regimes that are suitable for initial humanoperations. If NASA’s LRO finds that temperatures in the sunlit regions of the floor of Shoemaker Crater are well below -530 C then the first mining operations will need to be established at the warmer rim of the Crater in an area where relativelyefficient ingress and egress can be established for future excursions into the cold trap region for water ice exploration andmining. There needs to be more remote sensing to determine the temperature range in partly shadowed polar craters. 3 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 5. THE LUNAR WORK ENVIRONMENT:The lunar environment is very hostile to humans and machinery - some of the challenges are as follows (Alexander, 2005): • Temperature: polar highlands = -530 C +/-100, permanently shadowed craters = -2330 C +/-00, Equatorial = -180 C +/-1400 and mid-latitudes = -360 C +/- 500 - need more study on the temperature range in partly shadowed craters • Solar Constant: 1.37 kW/m2 (perpendicular to the solar rays) • Atmosphere: thin, essentially non-existent ("hard" vacuum) • Radiation: high ionizing radiation as no atmosphere to provide protection (significant danger to humans) • Meteoroids: direct high velocity impact as no atmosphere to "burn" them up • Gravity: 1.62 m/s2 (~1/6 of Earths) • Length of Lunar Day: 29.53 Earth days (synodic period) • Dust: very dusty and a photoelectric change in conductivity at sunrise and sunset (terminator) causes dust particles to levitate and adhere to surfaces (hard on equipment and affects visibility) - need more study on this phenomenon • Seismic Activity: few events and of low magnitude (<4 on the Richter Scale) • Distance between Earth and Moon: 385,000 km (center to center at accuracy of 1 part in 10 billion) • Travel time of electromagnetic waves between Earth and Moon: ~2.6 seconds round trip (speed of light: 299,600 km/s) 0 NEAR SIDE MALAPERT MTN. SHOEMAKER CRATER ~8,000 m above mtn. base 51 km diameter 2.5 km deep 0 270 LONG 90 0 85 S LAT FAR SIDE 180Figure 1. Combined Clementine mosaic and Earth-based radar image of the South Polar Region of theMoon. Malapert Mountain is located at 00 Longitude and 860 South Latitude (NASA). 4 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 6. LUNAR REGOLITH CHARACTERISTICS:Lunar sampling returns from the Apollo (382 kg of rock and soil) and Luna (0.33 kg of rock and soil) programs and thecollection of meteorites (Antarctic) from the Moon has provided materials for scientific study. Those studies provideestimates of elemental resources and physical characteristics, both important when considering establishment of a lunarmining base. It is important to understand that the sampling is biased toward the lunar maria materials as most of the Apolloand Luna landings were in the flat, smooth terrain of the maria regions. Some of the scientific information based upon lunarmaria regolith samples is as follows (Wegeng, 2005): • Element Concentration: O = 41.3%, Si = 20.4%, Fe = 13.2%, Ca = 7.9%, Al = 6.8%, Mg = 5.8%, Ti = 3.1% and other = 1.5% • Volatile Concentration (mainly deposited by solar wind): H2 = 55 ppm, He = 29 ppm, C = 104 ppm, N = 95 ppm, He-3 = 5 ppb • Definitions: Regolith - broken up rock material, Soil - <1 cm portion of Regolith, Dust - <50 micron portion of soil, Agglutinate - pieces of minerals, rocklets welded together by shock-melt glass (from ejected impactor "melts") • Adsorbed Volatiles: the bulk of lunar soil is <1 mm in size and contains a large portion of the volatiles due to the small particles high surface area (adsorption) • Specific Gravity of Lunar Surface Material: range from 2.3 to >3.2 • Porosity of Lunar Surface Material: ~50% • Bulk Density of Lunar Surface Material: ~1.6 g/cm3 • Slope Stability: a vertical cut can safely be made in lunar soil to a depth of about 3 m; an excavation slope of 600 can be maintained to a depth of about 10 m - lunar soil is very angular and has experienced slow shaking over eons of time making it well "compacted" • Friction: the US Bureau of Mines found that exposing lunar simulant to a vacuum long enough, for nearly complete out-gassing, caused increased friction up to 60 timesHYDROGEN/OXYGEN DEPOSIT DRILLING, RESOURCE DETERMINATION AND MINE PLANNING:Once robotic sampling has confirmed the general area with the highest grades of H2 and O2 an actual ore body will need to bedelineated. This will be done through hammer seismic and auger drilling, which will require the first mining equipment to beshipped to the lunar surface and assembled. Hammer seismic (vibrator mounted on a small excavator – see Figure 3, D) willassist in defining the lunar bedrock profile and any regolith subsurface variations prior to auger drilling. The excavatormounted auger will then drill the surface to ~2 meters depth on a grid pattern to define a large enough H2 and O2 resource tosatisfy the lunar base’s needs for at least ten years.A neutron activation probe and an XRF probe would be utilized in each augured borehole in order to analyze the hole for H2and heavy elements respectively - reporting the results of the boreholes in real time. Analyses would be done on each onemetre of the auger hole (two samples per hole). Both the hammer seismic testing and the neutron probing, along with humaninspection from time to time, will confirm the presence of any water ice which would be considered a high-grade ore deposit.The presence of water ice, while good news, could pose a mining challenge as it would probably cement the highly siliceousregolith particles together making the mining more difficult (more breakout force needed) and increase the abrasion and wearon ground engaging tools (auger drill bits and excavator bucket teeth).Once the deposit has been delineated standard block modeling methods would be used to optimize the staged pit outlines(mine plan) to yield the amount of H2 and O2 designated for a ten year lunar base operation. In order to determine thisoptimum mining sequence the deposit is segmented into 3-dimensional blocks; each block is then assigned a value byinterpolating the assay grades from drill samples and applying bulk density, element recoveries (mining and processing) andelement values into each block (Lambert, 2005). Each block is also assigned costs of mining, transportation and processing.The lunar mine would be designed with one metre cubed blocks. Optimized stages are developed by running the model witha stepped series of element values. The stages that are designed (outlined) by the optimizing numeric algorithm, utilizing thelowest element prices, are the stages that have the greatest economic return, and would be mined first. Mining at the highestgrade and lowest strip ratio first (lowest risk and highest reward) allows time to train operating crews and to establishefficient and effective operating systems and procedures so that in later years lower grade and higher strip ratio areas maystill be mined profitably. This method of optimization is especially applicable in remote operations where it minimizes crewsize, equipment fleet, support facilities and spare parts in the early years of operation, thereby minimizing operating risks.Companies providing sophisticated 3-dimensional mine planning software include: Gemcom Software International Inc.,Mintec Inc., Maptek Pty Ltd. and Mincom Limited. 5 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 7. EQUIPMENT FOR MINE DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS:Equipment must be versatile so that it can perform both development and operations tasks. The first equipment should besmall, and then as development and operations mature, larger but similar equipment should be deployed (see Figure 2). Thefirst small equipment could then be adapted (radio isotope thermal-electric generator, heat tracing, insulation, etc.) forexploration of cold traps in the vicinity of the lunar base for water ice (high risk, high reward).The equipment will use current designs and currently applied modifications. The hydraulic excavator is the most versatilepiece of construction equipment available today, and it will be the basis for the lunar mining equipment employed. Hydraulicexcavators are used successfully, with high availability, in the Canadian high arctic operating in very cold (~-500 C)conditions digging permafrost and blasted rock (dusty and abrasive). Excavators are manufactured by Caterpillar, Hitachi,Volvo and Komatsu, with Caterpillar excavators having the greatest amount of commonality in parts to other Caterpillar fleetmachines. In order to have the versatility required for all of the development and operation tasks, the excavator will beequipped with a quick coupling mechanism. The quick coupling mechanism will allow the tools on the end of the stick of theexcavator to be switched efficiently (see Figure 3). The bucket would be used for excavating material. It would also be usedfor development work, for example building a regolith shield for the lunar camp. The rock breaker would be used forbreaking up lunar regolith, ice water and other excavated materials for ease of digging with the rock bucket. The auger wouldbe used for exploration drilling, or any drilling required in the development phases. The vibrating compactor would be usedin development, as well as seismic hammer exploration. The material handling arm, along with slings or hooks, would beused in development, as well as support operations for the mine, process facility and base. A neutron probe and XRF probecould also be attached to the material handling arm to assist in exploration work. THE HYDRAULIC EXCAVATOR IS THE MOST VERSATILE PIECE OF CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE TODAY Komatsu PC18M-2 Komatsu PC35MR-2 (Earth 1g Environment) (Earth 1g Environment) Power 11.2 kW Power 21.7 kW Operating Weight 1933 kg Operating Weight 3840 kg Ground Pressure 0.33 kg/cm2 Ground Pressure 0.35 kg/cm2 Travel Speed 2.3 km/hr (low) Travel Speed 2.8 km/hr (low) 4.3 km/hr (high) 4.6 km/hr (high) Gradeability 30 degrees Gradeability 30 degrees Drawbar Pull 1700 kg Drawbar Pull 3600 kg Digging Height 3615 mm Digging Height 5010 mm Bucket Reach 3935 mm Bucket Reach 4550 mm Digging Depth 1785 mm Digging Depth 2650 mmFigure 2. Proposed principal piece of development and mining equipment – hydraulic excavator powered by fuel cell. 6 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 8. The excavator, as designed on Earth, provides hydraulic force and volume to accelerate and swing the mass of the material inthe bucket of the machine to match Earths gravity. In the lunar gravity there would be a potential to over-balance themachine because of the reduced normal force on the machine when swinging the excavator with a loaded bucket (F=ma staysthe same but gravity is reduced). The swing function (speed) of the excavator will be limited for lunar operations so thatthere is a reduced hydraulic fluid flow.In the excavator-trailer combination, shown in Figure 4, the trailer undercarriage will be the same as on the excavator, toprovide commonality in parts, and it will include its own hydraulic drive motor (same as on excavator). The trailers will beloaded by the excavator and towed by the excavator to the processing plant primary ore feed hopper for side dumping. Theexcavator hydraulic pump will have enough capacity to power both it and the trailer unit, as long as the digging function isnot engaged. The excavator-trailer will be connected with a quick coupling tow bar and will be used to move material in themining phase. A trailer designed for work on Earth would be able to carry roughly 6 times the amount of material on thelunar surface, because of the lower gravitational force. For functionality though, the volume of the trailer will have to belimited to its required maneuverability on the undercarriage and tracks of the excavator. As such, the trailer will be volumelimited, and not payload limited. QUICK COUPLING ATTACHMENTS WILL FACILITATE SIGNIFICANT VERSATILITY, INCLUDING: (A) ROCK BUCKET (B) ROCK BREAKING (C) AUGER DRILLING (D) VIBRATING COMPACTOR & SEISMIC HAMMER (E) MATERIAL HANDLING ARM A B C D EFigure 3. Small excavator and working attachments.The excavator will be powered by fuel cells similar to those used successfully in NASAs Apollo and Space Shuttleprograms. These fuel cells burn pure H2 and pure O2 and exhaust water and are currently being manufactured by UTC Power(United Technologies Corporation). The power requirement of the initial excavator/trailer would be ~11 kW (see Figure 2).Present fuel cell technology pretty much limits fuel cells to continuous reactant flow rates for peak efficiency, so highlyvariable peak power requirements such as those required by a hydraulic excavator may disable the power generator. Morework is required in this area, including the integration of highly efficient capacitors into the power operating system, toprovide balance between peak power demands. The electric motor driving the hydraulic system will also need to respond towide variations in power demand.Mining equipment would be operated remotely from nearby, at the lunar base control center, or from Earth as it would beextremely difficult for a suited (space suit) crewperson to effectively control the excavating equipment "in the seat" becauseof limited mobility. Remote controlled operation of mining equipment on Earth is a well established practice. Maintenance 7 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 9. of equipment will need to be done in a pressurized shelter so that crewpersons can perform the maintenance or repairswithout being suited.Undercarriage and any ground engaging tools on the excavator and the trailer body will be made of hardened steel tominimize wear. The hardest steel commercially available, with consideration for low-temperature brittle fractureperformance, will be utilized. This includes track pads, bushings, idlers, rollers, sprockets, bucket teeth, bucket wear plates,and trailer body plates. The widest available undercarriage track pads will be used for the excavator selected. The widershoes will provide better float and stability on the lunar surface. Also, the tracked configuration for the excavator and trailercombination will be able to safely negotiate 30 degree slopes. The structure of the excavator, as well as the boom, andpossibly the tools themselves will be heat traced. Equipment operators in cold climates on Earth will heat-trace the steelstructures of their equipment in order to prevent cold weather brittle fractures. This same application will be employed on thelunar equipment.For the lunar application fully synthetic oils and greases that have relatively stable viscosity levels, even at very lowtemperatures, will be used for lubrication and hydraulic functions within the equipment. These products are readily availablefor use on Earth and they have been used successfully in the space programs. "Arctic" greases (containing molybdenumdisulfide) will be used on the undercarriage and on all pins and bushings so that if there are leaks the lubricated componentscontinue to roll. A standard method of ensuring the fluids and contacted metals are kept warm in an Arctic environment isthe addition of fluid reservoir heaters. These heaters would be powered by the machines electric alternator when operatingand by external power when parked - this keeps the fluids running warm in the coldest temperatures and maintains heatwithin the machinery (metal structure). The lunar excavator fuel cell exhaust (water) will also need to be kept warm fortransfer to the water storage or water processing facility. The equipment will require starting in a sheltered environment, butonce operating, the internal temperatures will be much higher than ambient temperatures on the lunar surface. If acomponent fails and the machine shuts down, then a warm-up shelter will need to be placed over the machine beforerestarting it, if down more than about one hour. Therefore, at least two excavator-trailer setups will be required for operationon the lunar surface, to ensure one is available for operations at all times.Figure 4. Excavator and side dump trailer using side-cut mining method in lunar regolith.MINING SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES:The parallel cut method of mining will be utilized (see Figure 4). The excavator will dig a section 90 degrees perpendicularto the undercarriage and swing 90 degrees behind it to load an attached tracked trailer. When the excavator has excavated allmaterial within its reach, it will then move parallel along the cut to continue excavating. The excavator will only excavatematerial within the defined mine plan and on the schedule in the plan. Once one deposit is exhausted, the equipment wouldmove to the next highest value deposit. 8 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 10. Mine operations, processing and maintenance crews would include, at least: one mine engineer, one extractive metallurgicalengineer, one electrician, one mechanic and one equipment specialist. Each individual would be cross trained to do bothmine functions and process functions and each individual would have industrial first aid training. There is a definite need forindividuals willing to multi-task. Also, wherever possible, all equipment should be standardized. This includes allmechanical, electrical and hydraulic functions and fittings for all equipment found in mining, processing, and the base itself.This standardization, as well as an inventory of spare parts and materials, is essential to keeping the operations runningefficiently. There is a requirement for two crews of the makeup described above to work in cross shifts; as one crew rests,the other works, and vice versa, likely with some overlap. Lunar mining would be done during the daytime (~14.77 Earthdays) and the regolith processing would be done at night.Work on the lunar surface will be extremely isolated, and crew members will be expected to continue working at theoperations for long periods of time. Therefore, crew members must be carefully selected in order to run an efficient lunarbase. They must be mentally stable and capable and have a desire to work in this environment; and the rewards for the crewmembers must match the risk involved. There must be a combination of exploration, mining, processing and spacedevelopment skills, including intelligent, educated and practical individuals that are willing to contribute as a team to thesuccessful accomplishment of all project objectives. The working environment must also be carefully designed. Crewquarters and medical facilities must be included in order to ensure high morale. A reliable source of electric power and heatis essential. A modern machine shop with maintenance and repair facilities to optimize equipment availability andproductivity must be maintained along with a complimentary spares inventory. Lastly, an efficient communications network,both on site and to and from the Earth with internet access must be maintained for operations and for the crew. Ensuring highmorale of crew members will provide the highest probability of success to all project goals.Figure 5. Excavator delivering liquid hydrogen and oxygen modules for lunar Spaceport.THE IMPORTANCE OF HYDROGEN AND OXYGEN TO THE LUNAR MINING BASE (Lewis, 1996):The lunar mining base should concentrate on the production of H2 and O2 as they are the elements that are available in a highenough abundance to provide for the important functions of: human life (O2 and H2O), rocket propellants (chemical andnuclear), fuel cells (mobile and stationary), agriculture and aquaculture. Several techniques being studied by NASA for O2extraction from lunar regolith that also produce metal byproducts are: H2 reduction in minerals and glass (iron), carbonreduction (iron and silicon) and electrolysis (iron, silicon, titanium and aluminum). These processes also propose evolutionof volatiles (adsorbed H2 and He) by preheating of regolith. Studying methods of upgrading the feed to these processes byconventional physical metallurgical methods include: gravity, crushing and sizing, magnetic and electromagnetic separation,etc. will probably improve the process economics. Once water ice is located the processing will become as simple as meltingand electrolysis (or fuel cell run in reverse) to directly produce H2 and O2 at a very significant cost saving over the otherprocessing methods described. The waste material (tailings) from H2, O2 and metal recovery may be suitable for constructionmaterials including: concrete, sulfur concrete, cast basalt, sintered basalt, fiberglass and cast glass. These materials are 9 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 11. important to the expansion of a permanent lunar base that would serve large scale, primary industries of mining, astronomyand space transportation (lunar spaceport).Figure 6. Excavator moving lunar habitat module to new location. Habitat module is adaptedfrom an underground mine refuge station design on Earth.The primary sources of life support for humans are both O2 and H2O. Humans can breathe pure O2 continuously at a pressureof 24.1 kPa (3.5 psi), but not at pressures much higher or lower than this value, for any extended period. The Apollo spaceprogram ran pure O2 at this pressure in the space suits used by crew members. Food energy for humans can be grown in alunar base agriculture-aquaculture biosphere, with H2O being the main element for sustaining these greenhouses. Also, theCO2 which is produced from human exhaust would ideally be cycled to the greenhouses to stimulate growth of food and O2producing plant life. Any H2O produced from human metabolism would be recycled to the greenhouses, or it could even beelectrolyzed to H2 and O2 for use in any other functions requiring these elements. Excess CO2 can also be converted to O2and solid C using high temperature gas phase electrolysis. Human waste produced from metabolism can also be burned toproduce CO2, H2O and N2. Nitrogen could be added to the O2 as a fire retardant in work and/or habitat areas if warranted.It is interesting to note that H2 and O2 can be used in chemical rockets (specific impulse ~450 seconds) and also in nuclearthermal rockets (specific impulse, using H2 only, of 1,000 seconds to 10,000 seconds). Missions to Mars and further out intothe Solar System will require the high specific impulse nuclear thermal propulsion systems to reduce travel times for humans.Oxygen can be introduced (O2 augmentation) into the exhaust of an H2 fueled nuclear thermal rocket to add thrust, but at theexpense of speed (Freeman 1999).Fuel cells burning H2 and O2 would be utilized to power on-site mobile equipment and to power an emergency standby powersystem. The combustion of H2 and O2 in fuel cells to form H2O requires 2 parts H to 16 parts O (by weight), due to theatomic weight of each element. Water is the product of these fuel cell combustions and would be collected and recycled forfuture use. Fuel cells can also be reversed by providing H2O and electric energy to produce H2 and O2 - this is currently oneof the preferred methods of H2 production for Icelands "hydrogen economy". Storage of H2 and O2 at the lunar base will be avery important operating function that must be efficiently and safely undertaken. It is important to note that H2 (liquid) has adensity of 0.076 g/ml (boiling point is -2530 C) and O2 (liquid) has a density of 1.153 g/ml (boiling point is -1830 C). Thismeans that liquid H2 takes up ~15 times more storage volume than liquid O2 on an equal weight basis.The lunar base will need to run on a closed biosphere so that wherever possible all solids, liquids and gases are recycled.Much work is being done in this area on Earth and on the ISS. One item that should be studied is the use of an aquaculturelined "pond" as the water storage facility, rather than using tanks. Waste heat from the lunar base power generation systemwould be utilized to maintain proper operating temperatures in all of the base facilities including the agriculture-aquaculturebiosphere. 10 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 12. EFFICIENT AND RELIABLE POWER FOR THE LUNAR BASE:Solar power cannot be relied upon to provide efficient and reliable energy to the lunar base - that can only be achieved byusing existing nuclear technology, preferably a gas turbine modular He reactor (LaBar, 2002 and UIC, 2006). These nuclearreactors have a very high power density; they are safe and require very little maintenance. Initially a reactor generating ~1MW electric (with ~1.5MW heat) would satisfy all of the lunar bases electricity and heat needs. A 100 kW fuel cell shouldbe utilized for emergency standby power generation. Helium cooled reactors, such as the PBMR, produce very high gradeheat (temperature ~9500 C) that would greatly assist in lunar regolith processing. Enough H2 and O2 would need to be storedto meet human, biosphere and emergency generator needs for approximately 45 days (approximate elapsed time for a rescuemission to arrive from Earth).TELECOMMUNICATIONS AROUND THE LUNAR BASE AND TO/FROM EARTH:All equipment on the lunar surface will communicate with a base control center through a site-wide mesh network. This basecontrol center will communicate with the Earth’s internet through optical transmission (laser) directly from the lunar basecontrol center to a satellite at L1 and/or via a relay on Malapert. Persons on Earth connected to the internet would be able tomonitor the equipment and communicate with the inhabitants on the lunar surface in near real time. Presently lunarcommunications cannot be linked into the Earths internet because of packet switching delays (2.6 seconds round trip Earth-Moon communications delay) which the system is not designed to handle. However, NASA is working with Dr Vinton Cerf,to create an interplanetary internet (IPN). Dr Cerf is one of the founding fathers (mid 1970s) of Earth’s internet, so theproject is in strong hands.Currently, there is no lunar UTM high resolution datum available, and a local (virtual) metric grid coordinate system willhave to be established in order to provide accurate location tracking of equipment and personnel on the lunar surface at andnear the base. This would operate similar to Earths global positioning system (GPS), and would use multiple microwavesignal relays to devise a 3-dimensional location on this virtual UTM grid. NASAs polar orbit LRO planned for 2008 willestablish a global geodetic coordinate system and a DEM for the lunar surface with 100% coverage in the polar regions.However, the DEM resolution will still be too coarse at ~+/-50 m horizontally (now ~+/- 4 km) to use for the lunar miningbase operations. LRO photography, on the other hand, will be of very high quality as the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) willprovide panchromatic images at a spatial resolution of 0.5 m/pixel. This high resolution imagery will greatly assist in pickingsites clear for landing of robotic missions and later human and large cargo missions to establish the lunar mining base.An array of at least 6 antennas would be positioned around the perimeter of the proposed lunar base and mining operations, toprovide communications (~10 Mbps) and positioning (+/-10 cm) of all equipment and personnel, to the base control center,through a meshed network. The antennas must be positioned so that there is a horizontal and vertical difference in theirlocations, to provide proper horizontal and vertical resolution for the work area unit location determination, and if possible bein line of sight with each other. All equipment and work areas will likely be within a 2 kilometer radius area. Thecommunications of the equipment to the base control center is required for remote operations of the equipment, health/safetymonitoring, autonomous functions, as well as performance monitoring and reporting. The communications would beaccomplished with a WiMAX - IEEE 802.16 broadband wireless mesh network (Intel, 2004). On Earth, Novariant Inc. hasdeveloped a product called Terralite XPS that accomplishes this meshed network functionality with high resolution rangingantennas. The system uses the antennas positioned around the site, as well as each system on both personnel and equipmentto act as a part of the mesh of communications; receiving, transmitting and boosting the signal on to the next node in themesh. These systems, and others like it, are currently being employed in surface and underground mines around the world.Through the communications network, the equipment can be controlled remotely, or work plans can be downloaded and theequipment can work semi-autonomously or even autonomously (NRC, 2006 and DeGaspari, 2003). Work plans can bedesigned on an identical virtual UTM grid as the one developed for the lunar surface, and the equipment can be made tofollow the plans (common practice on Earth). Also, systems for the detection of pending collisions, and/or avoidance ofunexpected topographical features on the lunar surface, are currently available that would allow the equipment a certainamount of rational self-conservation. International Mining Technologies has developed the MineMate Collision Avoidancesystem, which could be used for this application. For automation and remote control of the lunar bases mineral processingsection, via the internet, there is well tested and cost effective Windows based "Wonderware" software available fromInvensys Systems, Inc.The communication network would also allow real time monitoring of sensors placed on the equipment for the purposes ofvital machine function health management and application productivity. Modular International Mining Systems Inc., WencoInternational Mining Systems Ltd., Novariant, Inc., and Caterpillar, Inc. all have developed systems for mining equipmentthat perform these sensor monitoring functions. The Caterpillar VIMS (Vital Information Management System) system is 11 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 13. being employed at over 300 mining operations on Earth. The sensors on the equipment that the system is employed on canbe viewed over the internet by the users of the system in a remote mine control room, as well as by Caterpillar in Peoria,USA. The equipment manufactured for mining application on the lunar surface would already have numerous sensorsintegrated into the vehicle design; and out of the box management systems would have the flexibility of adding additionalsensors on the equipment for this particular application (for instance, temperature sensors on structural components of theequipment that are heat traced, in order to ensure the temperatures of the steel are kept in the desired range, or if thefunctionality of the heat tracing itself has failed). If the system detects an impending or abnormal condition in any of themachine’s systems, it can modify the machine’s operation to mitigate the issue, or if the issue is critical, it will send an alertto the management personnel of the equipment, notifying the nature of the issue, and possible solutions. In the lunarapplication that is proposed, all available methods for ensuring high equipment availability and functionality are imperativefor success. The system will also be able to monitor the productivity of the machine by measuring vehicle speed, dig rates,delay times, etc. The information gathered from the productivity monitoring can be analyzed to develop better decisionmaking and higher efficiency in the operation.On-site communication through the mesh network is required and, in addition, a communication link between the lunar basecontrol center and Earth is essential. All information from the base and from the mining operations could be sent to Earthand many functions of the lunar mining operation could then be run from Earth, lowering both project costs and risks.Communication to Earth could be accomplished through an optical transmission via a relay satellite parked at Earth’s LunarL1 point and/or an optical relay at Malapert. The optical (laser) link through satellite relay will feed and receive informationvia TCP/IP FTP protocol (IPN - capable). Deployment of optical communications in space will greatly increase the baudrate, reduce the power requirements and reduce the electromagnetic spectrum noise caused by present longer wave length‘radio’ communications. ESA is leading the development of optical (laser) technology for transmitting at high data rates(50Mbps) with low mass, low power terminals, combined with secure, interference free communications between satellitesand between satellites and Earth. Recently JAXA has joined with ESA to advance this important technology. The proposedlunar mining base also has the potential to use the proposed international lunar observatory to be placed on Malapert as anoptical communications relay site. The observatory proposal is being championed by SpaceDev, Inc. and the LunarEnterprise Corporation.RECOMMENDATIONS:To achieve the objectives of: (1) saving the earthbound human species from eventual extinction by asteroid/comet impact orsupervolcano eruption, (2) scientific research, and (3) lunar resource extraction, the following actions by government andprivate enterprise (the space industry) are required: • Cooperate to ensure that there are school and university programs that engage the subjects of space research, exploration and development • Cooperate in establishing a tax regime that encourages space research, exploration and development • Re-establish and advance the work by the USA and the former Soviet Union in developing reusable nuclear thermal rockets with LOX augmentation • Aggressively advance the research and development of small, safe, efficient and reliable gas turbine modular helium reactors for stationary power and heat generation • Build on the leading work being done by ESA in the use of optical (laser) communications • Support the development of the interplanetary internet being championed by NASA • Establish an internet website that holds all of the space agencies lunar data (remote sensing and surface sampling) for access by the general public. The site should contain topography, photography, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, etc., all properly georeferenced in a common map projection. A good analog is the award winning British Columbia MapPlace website which is probably the best and most accessible georeferenced geoscience database on Earth. It presents data on British Columbia, Canada. See: • Rocket developers should stay with H2 and O2 propellants in order to ensure simplicity and reliability of refueling systems to be established on the Moon and Mars • Work with Caterpillar, Inc. or other well established mining machinery manufacturers to plan for lunar deployment of construction and mining machinery - this will be cost effective and minimize lunar operating risks • Cooperate in establishing industry standards for compatible "interconnection" of systems hardware and software that is important to space mission safety and efficiencyAs Jim Benson, Chairman of SpaceDev, Inc. says - "ONWARD AND UPWARD!" 12 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006
  • 14. REFERENCESAlexander, M., Jablonski and Ogden, K.A., 2005, A Review of Technical Requirements for Lunar Structures - Present Status,ILEWG 2005 Conference, Canadian Space Agency.Burton, L., Sharpe, Schrunk, D.G. and Thangavelu, M., 2003, Lunar Reference Mission: Malapert Station, In ILEWG 2003Conference, Hawaii, Session 8 - Lunar Commerce, Enterprise and Technology.Bussey, D.B.J., Lucey, P.G., Steutel, D., Robinson, M.S., Spudis, P.C. and Edwards, K.D., 2003, Permanent shadow insimple craters near the lunar poles, Geophysical Research Letters, v.30(6), 1278.DeGaspari, J., 2003, Armchair Mining, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Periodical.Favstovsky, D.E. and Sheehan, P.M., 2005, The extinction of the dinosaurs in North America, GSA Today, v. 15, no. 3, pp 4-10.Freeman, Marsha, Summer 1999, Back to the Moon with Nuclear Rockets, In 21st Century Science & Technology, pp. 56-63.Intel, 2004, Understanding Wi-Fi and WiMAX as Metro-Access Solutions.Knight, M.D., Walker, G.P.L., Ellwood, B.B. and Diehl, J.F., 1986, Stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, and magnetic fabric of theToba Tuffs: Constraints on the sources and eruptive styles, Journal of Geophysical Research, 91, 10,355-10,382.LaBar, M.P., 2002, The Gas Turbine - Modular Helium Reactor: a promising option for near term deployment, GeneralAtomics, GA-A23952.Lambert, R., 2005, A Basic Primer on Mine Design, Pincock Perspectives, Issue No. 69.Lewis, J.S., 1996, Mining the Sky: untold riches from the asteroids, comets and planets, Addison-Wesley, Reading,Massachusetts.NRC, 2006, Mine Mechanization and Automation, Natural Resources Canada.Schmitt, H., 2006, Return to the Moon, exploration, enterprise, and energy in the human settlement of space, CopernicusBooks, New York, NY.Uranium Information Center (UIC), 2006, Small Nuclear Power Reactors, Briefing Paper No. 60.Wegeng, R., and Sanders, G.B., 2005, Lunar Resource Utilization, Executive Lunar Commerce Roundtable, Cox School ofBusiness, Maguire Energy Institute, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas. AUTHORSJohn A. Chapman, B.Sc., FCIM, is a Professional Mining Engineer (British Columbia). He has worked 41 years in themining industry in operations, engineering and as an executive. He has been instrumental in the development of severalsurface mines in Canada - some in adverse northern locations. He also has worked in heavy construction on the DEW line inthe Canadian Arctic and is a proficient operator of most large mining equipment.Marc Schulte, B.Sc. is a Mining Engineer in Training (EIT, Alberta). He has worked five years in the mining industry as asurveyor, mine planner, and a heavy mobile equipment supplier. His mining experience has been in mountain coal and metal,prairie strip, oil sands and hard rock diamonds - all in Western and Northern Canada. 13 Chapman & Schulte, July 2006