Kirkland Lake Gold trialling computerised face drill at Macassa; adding tele-remote LHD at Robbin’s Hill

In its recent investor presentation call, covering its Q1 2020 production review, Kirkland Lake Gold’s Natasha Vaz – Vice President, Technical Services, touched on some of the operational improvement initiatives that are being either trialled or implemented at several of its sites. The first initiative mentioned is that the company is going to trial a computerised face drill at Macassa’s near surface portal starting Q2 2020. The aim here is to improve drilling, reduce over-break, help level the underground roads and improve the underground terrain in general, which will in turn improve the tyre life of equipment and also optimise the haulage and production cycle time. Vaz added: “And this will all help in reducing our overall cost and also improve our productivity.”

The second initiative is tele-remote mucking from surface. The company initiated this trial at Macassa back at the end of 2018 and currently has two tele-remote operated Epiroc ST7 LHDs at Macassa and another system that was recently delivered to the Robbin’s Hill operation which is expected to start up in Q3 2020. The systems utilise Sudbury-based Hard-Line’s Teleop teleremote operation technology. “The goal here is to safely speed up our development and production cycle times by enabling us to clean out headings between shifts from surface. So basically it just gives us the ability to utilise hours that would typically be wasted.”

The last initiative is the implementation of the Mobilaris system at Fosterville, which is a location-based service platform. “So basically what the system does for us is that it provides us with real-time situational awareness using 3D visualisation of the mine so that we know what’s happening underground and where our equipment and personnel are in real-time. We’re anticipating that this ability will not only lead to safety gains but also productivity gains. And as part of this implementation we’ve also started installing on-board tablets on equipment to help with proximity detection of equipment nearby and also personnel nearby and also to mitigate traffic jams on our main haul roads thereby improving our haulage time.”