Placer Gold Shafting Machine - YT-001

Preferred Disciplines: Mechanical engineering , Masters/PhD
Project length: 18 to 24 months
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: English
Company: Wildwood Exploration 

About Company:

Wildwood Exploration is a satelite company associated with GroundTruth Exploration where we are leaders in developing new exploration teckniques and tools to work in remote areas , specifically in the hard rock exploration.

Project Description:

We are looking at developing  some form of machine that can safely dig a square meter shaft down through the Yukon permafrost of frozen mud and gravel.

The machine has to be helicopter portable (2000 lb max loads) and be able to set up in 3 to 4 hours and dig 15 feet a day to depth of up to 100 feet with a 2 to 3 man crew. At the moment we are using 2-3 person crew and hand steaming and digging are way down with a daily production of 3 feet.

Looking at the first phase to conduct a world-wide search to see what kind of tools are out there and then come up with the best concept idea

Second phase (~8 months) to research, build and test a working prototype

Third phase (4 to 8 months) to research, build and debug a “2nd generation Shafting Machine” more suitable for commercialisation

Background and required skills

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

  • To figure out what piece of equipment, or design one, that can dig and excavate a square meter shaft down to depth of 100 feet at the desired rate
  • Equipment has to be helicopter portable, so the largest piece can’t weigh more 2000 lb


Stress the research-related approaches here

  • The first phase would be to conduct a world literature review of various piece of equipment, from tracks to excavating gear, hoist system, drills etc. 
  • Second phase (~8 months) to come up with a working prototype
  • Third Phase (4 to 8 months) to get a working model in the field and debug the final potential problems

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Internet research skills
  • Problem solving skills in that we have to dig a hole through permafrost and excavate the material in a tight space (3 by 3 foot shaft)
  •  Practical engineering skills, one needs to understand various pieces of equipment such as hoisting system, excavating system , drilling methods, to come up with a new potential prototype.

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!
  3. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform or directly to Laurence Meadows, lmeadows(a)