Tag Archives: AI

Weir preparing to trial proprietary ore sorting tech by the end of 2022

In the Weir Group Capital Markets Event presentation last week, Chris Carpenter revealed that the company was collaborating within its divisions on trials of ore sorting technology in an effort to move less rock at mine sites and optimise processing within the plant.

Carpenter, Vice President of Technology at Weir ESCO, said the company was combining Motion Metrics’ particle size distribution (PSD) capability with ore characterisation technology to explore “in-pit sorting” opportunities for its clients.

“Looking further out, we believe ore characterisation and in-pit ore sorting has the potential to transform mining by moving less rock, using less energy and creating less waste,” he said during his presentation. “Ore characterisation technology, which is underpinned by sophisticated sensing systems, captures critical data on properties and composition of rock, including rock hardness and mineral and moisture content.

“When coupled with Motion Metrics fragmentation analysis technology, it has the potential to be a game changer, giving miners a full picture of the size and characteristics of rocks.”

Motion Metrics, a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D rugged machine vision technology, was acquired by Weir almost a year ago, with the business incorporated into the Weir ESCO division. Its smart, rugged cameras monitor and provide data on equipment performance, faults, payloads and rock fragmentation. This data is then analysed using embedded and cloud-based AI to provide real-time feedback to the mining operation.

These technologies were initially developed for ground engaging tool applications but have recently been extended into a suite of products and solutions that can be applied from drill and blast through to primary processing.

Carpenter said the added PSD capability from Motion Metrics was expanding the company’s value presence across the mine to the processing plant, where Weir Minerals operates.

“Results from early adoption of Motion Metrics PSD solutions have been extremely encouraging,” he said. “Feedback from customers is positive; data sharing and collaboration have increased.

“Given this early progress, we are really excited about the opportunity and expect fragmentation analysis to be a key growth driver for Motion Metrics in the years to come.”

On the in-pit sorting potential, Carpenter said Weir ESCO had laboratory-validated equipment and field trials of its proprietary solution that were due to start at customer sites before the end of the year tied to these developments.

“If successful, this technology opens the door to in-pit sorting, where miners complete the first stage of crushing in the pit and analyse the outputs to make real-time decisions about which rocks have sufficient mineral content to be moved,” he said. “This is a step change from the current process, where energy is expended in transporting and processing all of the rocks, regardless of mineral content, and with significant waste generated from zero- and low-grade material.”

He concluded: “Our vision is to move less rock, moving only the rocks with sufficient mineral content and using the data that is captured on size and hardness to optimise processing. The natural evolution thereafter will be towards real-time automation control of processing equipment, ensuring the right rocks are processed in the most efficient way, using less energy and creating less waste.”

Gradiant concentrating its mining proposition

There are plenty of mining applications one can see Boston, Massachusetts-based Gradiant’s end-to-end water technology solutions serving.

A spinout of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the company calls itself the “experts” of industrial water, water reuse, minimum liquid discharge (MLD) and zero liquid discharge (ZLD), and resource recovery of metals and minerals.

That is a big remit, hence the reason why it caters to at least nine industries on a global basis in mission-critical water operations, with over 70% of its clients being Fortune 100 companies in the world’s essential industries.

Mining companies have historically been wary of suppliers that serve a variety of industries, believing their needs rarely cross over with the requirements of other industries. Gradiant believes it is different in that its solutions incorporate not only the hardware and software to fine-tune water technologies, but also the artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure the tools being used are effective regardless of the inputs.

This includes the RO Infinity™ (ROI™) platform of membrane-based solutions for complex water and wastewater challenges, which combine Gradiant’s patented counterflow reverse osmosis (CFRO) technology with reverse osmosis and low-pressure membrane processes. ROI solutions enable customers around the world to achieve sustainability goals to reduce their water and carbon footprint, the company says.

This platform is complemented with AI-backed SmartOps™, an integrated digital platform for asset performance management to optimise and predict plant operations using historical and real-time process data, resulting in performance and cost efficiencies.

Prakash Govindan, Co-Founder and COO of the company, says most water solutions on the market are built for consistent liquid/solid feeds and work effectively when the input is in accordance with these specifications. When the feed changes, they often become ineffective, needing to be updated or changed out, which costs money and impacts the various processes on either side of the water treatment section.

“The machine-learning algorithms we use – neural networks and time-series algorithms – ensure we consistently optimise the operation of our solutions,” Govindan told IM. “These tools make sure we always use the right performance metrics and don’t lose efficiency in the face of variability.”

The algorithms cannot change the hardware built into the water treatment plant, but it can, for instance, change the speed of the pumps or blowers. “We call it balancing, which is all part of our IP portfolio,” Govindan said.

SmartOps is an integrated digital platform for asset performance management to optimise and predict plant operations using historical and real-time process data

For mining companies looking to employ water treatment tools at their operations, this results in Gradiant’s technology being able to concentrate metals to a higher degree than any other solution on the market, according to Govindan.

“We can concentrate an aqueous solution to the point where you can produce a solid material that miners can then process,” he said.

Considering desalination applications represent a significant portion of the company’s work to this point – through its CFRO process – the mining sector has already provided some wins.

The CFRO process enables remote inland desalination and water reuse that was not previously possible due to a lack of viable brine management solutions, according to Gradiant, concentrating brines to saturation for disposal or crystallisation while producing a purified product water stream for beneficial reuse.

One significant nickel miner in Australia with a brine stream is using this solution to recover large amounts of concentrate it can feed through to its captive processing plant to produce an end-use product.

“Gradiant’s technologies enable clients to recover more than 50% of the nickel and cobalt from leached brine – this stream would have otherwise been wasted without our solutions,” Gradiant said. “Overall, this was a client benefit of about 20% increase in nickel and cobalt production across the entire operation.”

When considered together with the energy savings (75%), freshwater savings (25%) and environmental benefits, Gradiant continues to see high interest from miners around the world to adopt its solutions, it says.

That is before even factoring in the other complementary benefits that come with using SmartOps.

“All our products benefit from in-built sensors that not only allow us to update the operating parameters based on the detected materials, but also carry out scheduled maintenance on the hardware using these algorithms,” Govindan said. “This allows us to carry out 30-40% less service intervals than many conventional suppliers as we only take the solution out of operation based on what the data is telling us.

“Not only this, but we also have complete oversight of these parameters from remote locations, meaning you can monitor the systems from remote operating centres and not remain on site after installation.”

With mines getting more remote and hiring local employees getting even harder with the well-documented skills shortages, Gradiant feels its solutions will continue to win miners over.

SensOre expands AI-based geophysics capacity with Intrepid Geophysics acquistion

SensOre Ltd says it has reached an agreement to acquire Intrepid Geophysics, a provider of geophysics software and services headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.

The deal, valued at around A$5 million ($3.4 million) will be primarily funded through the issue of new fully paid ordinary SensOre shares.

Intrepid Geophysics’ advanced automated geophysical software and geoscience expertise complement SensOre’s existing suite of machine learning and artificial intelligence-based mineral exploration software products and technology offerings, it said, adding that Intrepid Geophysics’ large client base and strong cashflows were integral to its strategic assessment of the transaction.

SensOre Chief Executive Officer, Richard Taylor, said: “Acquiring Intrepid Geophysics is a major opportunity for us. Intrepid Geophysics’ deep geoscience and machine-learning expertise in geophysics complements SensOre’s geochemistry and economic geology focus for targeting in mineral exploration. Demand for advanced geophysics software is strong and deployable globally.

“Intrepid Geophysics’ years of product leadership, data collation and collaboration with government geological surveys will benefit SensOre’s data platform development and client service offerings. We are looking forward to integrating Intrepid Geophysics’ exceptional talent with our team of innovators.”

Intrepid Geophysics Managing Director, Dr Desmond Fitzgerald, added: “The combination of SensOre and Intrepid Geophysics will unlock growth opportunities in a strong market for high-level exploration targeting. We look forward to being part of a growing and exciting geoscience group.”

SensOre and Intrepid Geophysics completed a successful pilot project in Victoria in the June quarter, confirming the technological synergies and product complementarity between the two companies, it said. The results of the pilot are expected to be deployed with clients in the September quarter, focused on the Stawell and Ballarat gold corridors. There is strong interest from prospective clients within these corridors, according to SensOre.

SensOre says its strategy has been to organise all of Australia’s geoscience data within its proprietary data cube technology, with the acquisition of Intrepid Geophysics significantly advancing that capability.

The deal also expands SensOre’s mineral exploration technology sector presence and exposure, with the deal seeing the company acquire a second team of dedicated geoscience professionals with cross-over expertise in the oil and gas, groundwater, geothermal and the emerging hydrogen storage sectors.

“In acquiring Intrepid Geophysics, SensOre gains access to multiple new targeting and decision-based proprietary technologies and strategic decision-based services using 2.5 dimension Airborne Electro-Magnetic inversion technology, tensor gradient technology, geology from geophysics feature extraction, and service automated workflows,” the company added.

These technologies, SensOre says, fill a gap in its product suite by incorporating geophysics products that take exploration targeting from the macro-focused Prospectivity Modelling and Discriminant Predictive Targeting® approach into drill target delineation in three dimensions.

Intrepid Geophysics’ software portfolio includes:

  • Intrepid 3D – an airborne and ground geophysical data processing and interpretation package;
  • Moksha-EM – an airborne electromagnetic full waveform inversion data processing and interpretation package;
  • Argus – a 3D geological modelling package with a tightly integrated geophysical forward and inverse modelling capability;
  • JetStream II – a web-based, spatially searchable data catalogue that enables geoscientists to quickly assess the coverage, type and vintage of georeferenced spatial data held over any given area; and
  • Sea-g Marine Gravity – a fully featured marine gravity processing application powered by Intrepid Geophysics technology for on-cruise and post-cruise use.

Unico to help further commercialise SensOre’s mining exploration technology platform

SensOre Ltd has executed an agreement with Unico, now part of global IT and business consulting firm CGI, to collaborate on the commercialisation of SensOre’s mining exploration technology platform.

The project represents an opportunity to expand SensOre’s current client services to a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) product, it said.

SensOre’s technology was created to improve exploration success rates and performance, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies, specifically its Discriminant Predictive Targeting® (DPT®) workflow. SensOre collects all available geological information in a terrane and places it in a multi-dimensional hypercube or Data Cube, with its big-data approach allowing DPT predictive analytics to accurately predict known endowment and generate targets for further discovery, it says.

The contract with Unico is an important step in SensOre’s technology development roadmap, it said. It is envisaged that development and deployment of the proprietary platform will open the door to scale the company’s products and expand SensOre’s capacity to service mineral exploration companies in Australia and overseas, while reducing the company’s unit cost per engagement.

The project will involve using SensOre’s AI-driven technology to create a digital twin of the Earth’s surface, enhancing the way exploration companies identify and analyse mineral exploration targets, SensOre says.

SensOre Chief Executive Officer, Richard Taylor, said: “Our background is creating and deploying technology and software that generates exploration targets using AI. While we have previously focused on Western Australia, a key objective of the Unico partnership is to enhance the pace of our data expansion across the globe.

“This project is a massive opportunity to use our technology to build a model that we believe will be in demand from mining exploration companies around the world. We are excited about the prospect of a global relationship with CGI to help expand our technology offerings into new markets.”

Unico’s Director of Innovation, Evan Harridge, said: “Imagine being able to analyse an MRI scan of the Earth. SensOre’s AI-driven analysis tools will be able to see what is underground in great detail, similar to how medical imaging technology can accurately see inside the human body. This technology would enable exploration to be more targeted and limit the overall environmental impact.”

Zyfra presents new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution at MINExpo 2021

At MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, Zyfra, a Finnish-Russian group of companies specialising in AI and IIoT based solutions for mining and other heavy industries, has presented its new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution.

The ZR RoboDrill can improve productivity and personnel safety as well as reduce drilling operation costs, according to Zyfra. The system is designed to autonomously operate one or more drill rigs. This could see execution of the drill plan remotely controlled by an operator who can manage up to four drills at the same time, tracking the status of each machine.

This solution can autonomously change the rig position within the drilling site using an optimised route, the company sats. While moving, it will scan the surrounding area for obstacles, equipment and personnel.

While drilling, the rig’s platform and mast level will be maintained within 0.3° in two planes. The autonomous drill is equipped with an automatic emergency stop system, which can guarantee the safety of personnel in the work zone, according to Zyfra. The operator in the control room can take over control of the drill rig at any time, using respective monitors and all information required for manual remote operation.

Unmanned technologies can keep operators out of zones deemed hazardous because of various mining, geological and technical factors, creating a safe and comfortable working environment as well as reducing the risks to occupational health.

Pavel Rastopshin, Managing Director at the Zyfra Group, says: “Digital transformation and its current stage, automation of mining processes, are key factors for improving efficiency and safety of mining as well as competitiveness of mining companies in the increasingly complex mining, geological, technical and climatic conditions. Zyfra’s mining division has been engaged in the digital transformation of mining businesses for over three decades and our autonomous drill rig solution is another milestone in the transition to unmanned mining operations in the world.”

The new ZR RoboDrill solution is OEM-agnostic and can be installed on most new or used drill rigs. It is compatible with diesel and electric-powered drills, the company says.

Cognecto’s AI-based equipment monitoring solution to be used at FURA’s Sapphire mine

FURA Gems has announced a partnership with India-based Cognecto to improve operational efficiency, sustainability, productivity and decrease the carbon footprint of its Australian mining operation.

Cognecto, which calls itself India’s leading artificial intelligence-based heavy equipment monitoring company, has deployed an integrated custom-built hardware sensor and remote telemetry data protocol for FURA to share the data from its Sapphire mining operations in Queensland to company headquarters in Dubai.

This collaborative effort forges a solution combining heavy equipment monitoring and analytics to empower operational visibility and control wherever and whenever, according to Cognecto. In addition, FURA employees can access real-time fleet updates via a “well-integrated, easy-to-implement, and zero-tech footprint AI platform created by Cognecto to improve operational conditions and enhances safety”, it said.

Operational insights for real-time tracking are delivered using a web interface, while the alerts can be relayed on any commonly used messaging platform. Apart from real-time tracking, the assets are colour coded based on status and precise location on a map, embedded in a customisable dashboard. The performance can be monitored with alerts and helps boost equipment utilisation, while optimising fuel use. All this data is reported to get the number of trips and actual engine run time based on multiple criteria, Cognecto says.

Dibya Baral, Chief Technology Officer of FURA Gems and Managing Director FURA Australia, said: “Technology has been the driver for FURA’s swift initiation and turnaround for new projects. A quick implementation by Team Cognecto helped us achieve operational efficiency and strengthen the project deliverables.

“We look forward to strengthening our association moving forward and continue to improve our Sapphire project. This monitoring system will help us drive operational efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint, making it a win-win for both our business and the magnificent nature of Australia.”

Rohet Sareen, Head of Business Development at Cognecto, said: “The next generation of partnership has just taken place, and we take pride that FURA, a leading gemstone mining giant with very large-scale operations, has partnered with us. Their commitment to the environment and land rehabilitation practices demonstrates their desire to embrace innovative solutions to preserve the environment. We are both equally passionate about sustainability, and we are determined to take it to the next level with FURA’s vision of reducing carbon footprint.”

RPMGlobal adds predictive element to mine maintenance solutions with IMAFS buy

RPMGlobal has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire Canada-headquartered, inventory optimisation management software company, IMAFS.

As a Software-as-a-Service and cloud-delivered provider of inventory optimisation software, IMAFS has more than 20 years experience developing and selling its flagship IMAFS product, RPMGlobal says.

The IMAFS solution is an inventory management and forecasting software solution that connects to an organisation’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and uses proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to greatly improve inventory management, according to the company. The product has been designed and built for the sole purpose of optimising the inventory holdings of large asset-intensive companies.

RPM CEO and Managing Director, Richard Mathews (left, pictured with David Batkin, Executive General Manager – Technology Consulting), said: “We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations to acquire IMAFS and are really looking forward to welcoming the Quebec-based IMAFS team into the wider RPM family. The product is a great fit with the existing RPM product suite and further builds on our cloud and optimisation offerings.”

RPM explained: “In the mining industry, management and optimisation, specifically the maintenance, repair and operational (MRO) inventory is critical to ensuring operational continuity and attainment of production targets.

“The key to accurately forecasting any type of inventory is understanding future demand. Mining MRO inventory optimisation is often a unique challenge to solve due to low volume and/or erratic turnover with long lead times, high component costs and the complex logistics associated with operating in remote locations leading to companies over-stocking parts inventory and tying up capital unnecessarily.”

When it comes to mining, properly managing MRO inventory is vital, RPM says. If the plant, or key pieces of equipment (loaders, trucks, conveyors, etc) stop operating because spare parts are not available, a costly operational problem develops. A poor inventory optimisation process can result in a company ordering inventory urgently due to reactive inventory processes rather than predictive inventory processes.

IMAFS has developed a hosted subscription service that, RPM says, allows inventory data to be extracted from a company’s ERP product or Computer Maintenance Management system and analysed programmatically.

IMAFS’ proprietary and cutting-edge algorithms also include AI logic incorporating parameters such as transport mode, carrier, weather, customs, seasonality, holidays, availability, and many other data points. IMAFS will also identify excess or obsolete stock that can be returned or disposed of, according to RPM.

Mathews added: “Four years ago, we acquired iSolutions because we understood the importance of planning maintenance in parallel with production. AMT stands alone when it comes to forecasting the lifecycle cost of an asset using its dynamic lifecycle costing engine. This real-time engine accurately predicts when customers will require major parts and components.

“In other words, by going back to first principles (as AMT does), we can predict the future demand that can be factored into IMAFS’ advanced AI algorithms. That future demand is the critical piece of the puzzle so that IMAFS can optimise procurement and management of critical parts and components.”

Mathews says the AMT solution is used by the major OEM’s and their dealer network. These organisations can take forecasts from their customers into the IMAFS product, thereby assisting them in optimising their spare parts inventory.

“While we haven’t had a product to do this in the past, we have been involved in a number of discussions with dealers and miners to do exactly this,” he said.

Robert Lamarre, IMAFS Founder, said: “It is immensely pleasing to see the passion emanating from the team at RPM to championing inventory optimisation and cloud-driven enterprise integration. We are convinced that the IMAFS product suite will benefit from increased investment and the sales and marketing support that RPM can offer these products right around the world.”

Following completion, Lamarre will continue his involvement with promoting IMAFS through a third-party business partner authorised to market and distribute IMAFS products to customers in North America outside of mining and resources.

The acquisition is expected to close on November 25, 2020 subject to several conditions precedent and customary completion events.

Hitachi CM looks for access to resource industry start-ups with Chrysalix fund investment

Chrysalix Venture Capital, a global venture capital fund with a history of commercialising innovation for resource intensive industries, has announced Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd has invested in the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund.

Hitachi Construction Machinery, a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, joins a cluster of mining and metals players such as South32, Severstal and Mitsubishi Corp in the fund, and “will leverage Chrysalix’s extensive network in the mining field to strengthen open innovation by connecting with start-ups that possess the latest technologies for mining in areas such as robotic systems, IoT, AI and data analytics”, the company said.

“Chrysalix has made step-change innovations in the metals and mining, manufacturing and machinery industries, through digital solutions and advanced robotics technologies, a major theme of our fund, and we are delighted to welcome Hitachi Construction Machinery to the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund,” Alicia Lenis, Vice President at Chrysalix Venture Capital, said.

Just some of the companies included in Chrysalix’s portfolio include Novamera, which is developing its Sustainable Mining by Drilling technology for narrow-vein mines; and MineSense Technologies, a Vancouver-based start-up developing real-time, sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions for large-scale mines.

Naoyoshi Yamada, Chief Strategy Officer at Hitachi Construction Machinery, said: “We identified Chrysalix as having a valuable network of start-ups in its global innovation ecosystem, and a unique window on innovation opportunities in the mining industry.

“With the trends toward digitalisation, the autonomous operation and electrification of mining machinery, as well as the growing need for solutions to streamline and optimise not only mining machinery but also overall mining operations, many start-ups offer novel technologies and services, and our investment in the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund will enable Hitachi Construction Machinery to tap into these new breakthroughs.”

The Chrysalix RoboValley Fund, Chrysalix says, seeks to achieve significant returns for its investors by enabling resource intensive industries, including energy, mining, construction, infrastructure and mobility, to tap into innovation from high growth start-ups.

BHP targets more mineral discoveries with SensOre JTA pact

SensOre says it has welcomed a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHP as a client for its Data Cube and Discriminant Predictive Targeting® (DPT®) technology.

SensOre and BHP reached agreement on a Letter of Intent in May 2020 and confirmed this in a Joint-Targeting Agreement (JTA) on September 18, SensOre said.

The JTA envisages a phased process training the DPT technology on commodity-specific deposit types and applying the knowledge gained to a pre-determined search space. SensOre stands to benefit through fees for the targeting exercise and potential success-based payments on certain discoveries resulting from the technology, it explained.

Richard Taylor, CEO of SensOre, said: “The JTA is a very positive development for SensOre that has come to fruition over many months of discussion.

“The vast data challenge of cleaning and integrating massive geoscience datasets has in the past been an obstacle to applying big data and machine learning advances to mineral exploration. Through agreements like this, we believe SensOre’s DPT technology will be part of a new wave of discovery in mature markets.”

SensOre aims to become the top performing minerals targeting company in the world through the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies, specifically its DPT workflow. SensOre collects all available geological information in a terrane and places it in a multi-dimensional hypercube or Data Cube, with its big data approach allowing DPT predictive analytics to accurately predict known endowment and generate targets for further discovery, it says.

SensOre recently committed to a joint project with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation looking at automation and efficiency in big data cleaning and processing solutions for the mineral resource sector.

KPMG KIC winner proposes new way to improve mineral extraction

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) has been crowned champions of KPMG’s KPMG Ideation Challenge (KIC) 2020 for developing a solution that brings disruptive innovation to the mining industry.

The solution, KPMG says, could help enable safer and more sustainable extraction of minerals and metals.

The 17th annual KIC took place on August 24-25, 2020, with the hackathon-style competition taking place virtually for the first time. It gathered both science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and business students to help solve real-world business issues with artificial intelligence and other emerging technology-based tools and solutions.

Out of more than 8,000 applicants across 19 countries, 17 student teams were chosen from 500 leading universities to advance to the final phase of the event. The top three finalist teams were the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) from Dhanbad, India, Zhejiang University in China, and University of Florida in the US.

Team NAVACHARITAM (Technology Replaces Repetitiveness) from the Indian Institute of Technology was announced as the KIC winner.

The team’s solution, which used a custom algorithm, sensor imaging and drone technology, is designed to more precisely pinpoint the exact location of minerals to be extracted, resulting in considerable reductions of air pollution, time and cost, as well as improvements to worker safety. The winning team members (pictured above) are: Sanchit Kumar, Varnika Kumari, Parth Hetamsaria and Srajan Gupta. The team is currently in the process of patenting their solution.

Phil Thornley, Partner with KPMG Australia and a Lead Practitioner with KPMG’s Global Lighthouse Center of Excellence for Data, AI and Emerging Technologies, said: “The panel of judges selected the student team from the Indian Institute of Technology because they addressed a problem with global relevance – safety and sustainability in the mining industry – and developed a solution that was commercially and technically viable. This technology shows great promise; it has the potential to offer significant safety, environmental and cost benefits.”

The winning team will receive $50,000 in seed funding to bring their idea to market with coaching and guidance from KPMG professionals. All participating teams retain intellectual property rights for their ideas and solutions, according to KPMG.