Resolute Mining, in its 2019 financial year results, said commissioning of the Syama Underground automation system is now well underway following the company reaching commercial production rates in quarter just ended.
The gold mine, in Mali, mined 737,338 t of ore over the period, as the company, in its financial year, moved from development to production in the sub-level cave.
At full capacity the underground mine is expected to produce around 46,000 t/week of ore, or 2.4 Mt/y, using a fully integrated automated mine fleet that is being facilitated through a partnership with Sandvik. Once the underground mine is fully commissioned, Syama will be capable of producing over 300,000 oz/y of gold, according to Resolute.
In the financial results, the company said the automation switch was gradually being turned on, with operators in the newly completed surface control room (pictured) now able to control underground production units over shift-change, blasting and re-entry periods, when there are no personnel in the underground mine.
Resolute said: “This represents the initial delivery of one of the main benefits of automation, the ability to maintain production over periods when operations would normally cease in a typical manual mine.”
The company noted that the fibre optic backbone and mine-wide wireless network was now complete from the portal down to the 1055 haulage level and was connected to the surface control room.
“This network enables the operation of the automated haulage loop, automated rehandle level, mine digitisation and production automation, all of which allow operators to monitor and control mine production in real time,” the company explained.
A major technical characteristic of what Resolute is referring to as “the world’s first fully automated haulage loop” is the ability for Syama’s haul trucks to rapidly transition from laser-based underground navigation to surface-based differential global positioning system (GPS) navigation.
The company said recent trials at Syama demonstrated Resolute’s haul trucks can acquire the feed from the two surface GPS base stations and seamlessly lock onto satellite guidance to complete the transition to GPS navigation without any delay or speed reductions.
The next phase of the company’s automation work will see the commissioning of the 1055 haulage level with automated rehandle loaders and haulage trucks working together to load from an ore pass and truck directly to the surface run of mine pad, Resolute said.
“With the fans, pump stations, control room and communications network complete, the automation project is being progressively handed over to the operations team which is now at normal operational manning levels,” the company concluded.