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Erocon stands to benefit from growing concern over tailings.

Erocon stands to benefit from growing concern over tailings

Back in the early 1980s, when Texas Gulf founded the now famous Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins, the company ran into a problem with soil stability around its open-pit mine.

Herman Keller of Toronto heard about the problem and, with a wealth of horticultural expertise, he headed to Timmins to see if he could help this new company.

Keller developed some ideas about how to control mine tailings, and he soon found himself with a contract. In 1965 Erocon was born. The company has played a big part in Kidd Creek's enviable environmental record ever since.

Today the company is run by Keller's son, Hans. The Kellers developed one of Canada's few private contracting firms that specialize in land reclamation.

The prime goal of the reclamation process is to bring about the immediate establishment of a permanent, self-sustaining, maintenance-free vegetation cover for an old tailings site.

But that's not Erocon's only speciality.

"In fact," says Hans Keller, "as far as we know, we're the only company that offers complete mine closure services."

Erocon employs 45 full-time staff and as many as 75 people during peak times.

The company provides a wide spectrum of mine-closure services, including shaft capping, structure demolition, revegetation and decommissioning of tailings sites.

Over the years Erocon's expertise has been utilized by many of the major players in the Porcupine mining camp. Erocon revegetated the Hollinger Mine tailings and, more recently, the tailings sites at Dome Mine numbers one and two.

Visitors to those sites often swear that the topography looks natural.

"The Dome is a good example," says Keller. "Dust storms from those tailings in the 1970s used to blow across Highway 101 and there were a lot of accidents. Today there are no more dust storms, just a lot of healthy vegetation."

Contrary to common belief, a good variety of plants can be made to grow on the most forbidding-looking wastelands, provided great care is exercised in conditioning the sites.

"Once a waste site is prepared for vegetation, it's a matter of planting the proper vegetation and cultivating it to the point that the root system creates a natural stability," said Keller.

Keller says Erocon was recently given a contract to stabilize and revegetate the old Copper Core Mine north of Sault Ste. Marie. Erocon and DNE Consultants of North Bay will team up to do the project.

The Copper Core Mine tailings pond broke several years ago in a fashion similar to the recent spill of tailings into the Montreal River from a tailings pond near Matachewan.

In the Copper Core incident the tailings slid across the TransCanada Highway into Lake Superior.

The mine, near Hubbard Bay, has been designated a priority by government officials in light of the growing concern over old tailings.

"The Copper Core has the makings of another Matachewan," said Keller, "and there are other mines out there in a similar position."

That growing concern puts Keller in an enviable position. As one of the few land and tailings reclamation contractors around, Erocon stands to play a large role in what promises to be a great deal of reclamation activity.

PHOTO : Hans Keller is president of Timmins-based Erocon, one of Canada's few private contracting firms that specialize in land reclamation.

KEVIN VINCENT Correspondent
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Vincent, Kevin
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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