Tag Archives: AspenTech

Industry leaders to discuss mining’s sustainable future at IMARC

A greener future will require more mining than ever before, meaning collaboration and the adoption of new technologies across the industry’s entire value chain is no longer an option, but a necessity, organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) say.

This will be among the key challenges being addressed by industry leaders and innovators at the conference, due to take place on November 2-4, in Sydney, Australia.

According to key players in mining equipment, technology and services (METS) space, who will be speaking at the forum, there’s an urgent need for the industry to dramatically increase its uptake of sustainable technologies.

AspenTech Vice President and General Manager of Metals and Mining, Jeannette McGill, says not being at the cutting edge of available technology can be risky for mining companies.

“Technology is mandatory as it underwrites the future for mines, especially the ones mining lower-grade metals,” she said. “It’s these technologies that are going to allow us to mine and process more efficiently and allow us to have less impact on the environment.

“We can be more robust in how we push out the technologies into the market, but the constraints are around a skills base to absorb it, but also the adoption of technologies doesn’t come without a cost.”

Paul Berkovic, Chief Commercial Officer at I4 Mining by Rayven, agrees initially some technologies are hard to adopt but will eventually have an extremely significant impact on productivity, safety and in meeting demand for critical minerals vital to future energy solutions, including solar panels and wind farms.

“Competitively, it will be unavoidable, but there will also be huge environmental benefits to the adoption of this technology which consumers should understand because mining is not going anywhere,” Berkovic said. “It’s a really important part of our economy but how do we make it a more friendly part of the economy than it currently is perceived as?”

Ethically-conscious consumers are one of the major driving forces behind the mining sector’s transition, according to METS Ignited General Manager, Kylah Morrison, who says they are more influential on the industry than ever before thanks to the pressure they put on end-user manufacturers.

“You’re seeing a lot of those end users, which maybe had two or three steps before the raw materials got to them, starting to have to take responsibility for what those interim steps are and make them more secure, so we’re seeing miners have a more direct relationships with end users,” Morrison said.

“Fortunately, with data and computing power, we can offer that transparency. Apple, for example, could say to the consumer who’s purchasing an iPhone or an iPad: ‘we know for sure that we’re providing a carbon neutral or low carbon product’.”

With that community influence in mind, it’s also the responsibility of mining companies around the world to ensure they are engaging these technologies in a thoughtful way, rather than making reactionary decisions to engage in short-term solutions that may not be manageable in the future.

“The mining space has been at the vanguard of technology to a certain extent,” Berkovic said. “It’s had self-driving vehicles and all sorts for 20-30 years now, but what is happening now is a whole lot of these new novel technologies are coming out but they’re being adopted in a sort of ‘point and shoot’ manner,” Berkovic said.

IMARC Conference Director, Sherene Asnasyous, says with such a diverse cross section of the mining and resources industry attending, the event is a unique opportunity for collaboration to address evolving challenges such as this.

“IMARC will shine a spotlight on the role the METS sector is taking in driving the global energy transition, how it is bringing innovation to the exploration and development of new future-facing resources, and how it is helping balance the needs of the developed and the developing world, as well as local communities and environments, in the resource transition,” Asnasyous said.

“At its core, IMARC creates a global conversation and is all about the business of mining and resources, providing extensive opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing and cross-sector engagement to help drive a smarter, more productive industry of the future.”

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC, in Sydney, Australia

AspenTech in pole position to help digitise mining sector with planned takeover of Micromine

Aspen Technology is looking to expand its industrial software remit with the acquisition of Micromine, a global leader in design and operational management solutions for the mining industry, from private equity firm Potentia Capital and other sellers for A$900 million in cash ($623 million)

The two have entered into a definitive agreement that AspenTech says complements its existing asset optimisation solutions and positions the company in a leadership role to deliver the “Digital Mine of the Future”, in support of excellence in operations with a focus on safety, sustainability, reliability and efficiency.

In addition, AspenTech says it is now uniquely positioned to help mining customers address the dual challenge of meeting the demands of a growing population with an increasing standard of living, while reaching sustainability goals.

“AspenTech’s innovation and unique expertise in digitally transforming the chemicals and oil and gas industries will be critical to the mining industry as it embarks on rapid digitalisation,” it says.

Micromine participates in the smart mining market, which in 2022 amounts to approximately $11.5 billion, according to AspenTech. Based on Micromine’s technology, the relevant global segments of the total smart mining market are $5.3 billion and cover data management and analytics, smart asset management and other solutions, AspenTech says.

“With a 35-year track record of success and 280 employees across 22 global offices, Micromine provides mission-critical solutions for over 800 blue-chip customers across all mining operations and commodities with a focus on various metals essential for the energy transition such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, base metals such as copper and iron ore, and precious metals such as gold,” the company added.

Antonio Pietri, President and CEO, AspenTech, said: “Digitalisation is critical for the metals and mining industry to become sustainably sound and operationally excellent for generations to come. Micromine’s comprehensive solutions span the breadth of the mining cycle from geological exploration and data management to resource estimation, mine design, planning, scheduling and production control.

“As we indicated when we announced the transaction with Emerson, AspenTech has gained additional flexibility to strategically deploy capital for growth. Combining AspenTech’s product portfolio and worldwide reach with Micromine’s mission-critical technology and leadership in the mining industry will equip customers with a comprehensive offering and the end-to-end ability to drive efficiencies across the entire mining value chain, while helping them meet the dual challenge.”

Back in October 2021, Emerson and AspenTech announced that the companies had entered into a definitive agreement to contribute Emerson’s industrial software businesses – OSI Inc and its Geological Simulation Software business – to AspenTech to create a diversified, high-performance industrial software leader with greater scale, capabilities and technologies being referred to as “new AspenTech”.

Andrew Birch, CEO, Micromine, said: “The majority of organisations in the mining industry are in a nascent stage of digitalisation. Accelerating their digital initiatives through a comprehensive suite of software applications and the expertise from AspenTech is a unique opportunity for our customers. Our vision has always been to create an ecosystem that connects experts across the exploration and mining value chain, using both new and existing technologies to deliver better outcomes for our customers.

“Micromine solutions complement AspenTech solutions perfectly with resultant capabilities of the whole combined company that are greater than the sum of the parts. Joining forces with AspenTech further reinforces this vision and will be the key to delivering the next generation of efficiencies in the mining sector.”

Micromine is expected to be accretive to AspenTech on a free cash flow basis within the first 12 months of the transaction closing, which is expected to close in the June quarter of 2023.

AspenTech Mtell Agents getting ahead of the mine maintenance game

AspenTech is looking to turn condition monitoring procedures in the minerals processing plant on their head by providing prescriptive maintenance tools powered by machine learning that offer the earliest possible issue detection along with the required context to allow operators to act.

“After more than a decade of working on Mtell, we understand how to slot into an operation to make sure our data is clear, prescriptive and acted on,” Mike Brooks, Global Director of APM Solutions at AspenTech told IM recently.

Aspen Mtell® has been a gamechanger for industries such as metals and mining, according to the company, performing prescriptive maintenance by forecasting degradation and equipment failures, alerting staff in advance of when a failure could occur, identifying potential causes and the scope of any failure, and providing advice on the corrective action to avoid or mitigate the impending failure.

This is leading to increased operational efficiency, resulting in improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions, according to the company.

Unlike other mining-related predictive maintenance proponents, AspenTech and Aspen Mtell have been using machine learning for over a decade, using the benefits of this technology to improve on the condition monitoring and firefighting maintenance procedures in place at industrial sites.

“By obtaining sufficient domain knowledge and packaging it into a solution, we have created a product that is able to detect patterns in the data, track any anomalies and contextualise these anomalies on the basis of past performance and previous incidents,” Brooks explained.

This process involves detecting failures, “hidden failures” (spikes or changes in behaviour not associated with an event) and when an asset is offline from past operating data and contextualising this within what is considered ‘normal’ operating conditions. From this, data analysts create “Failure Agents” and “Anomaly Agents” to spot potential failures and watch for changes in normal operating behaviour.

Once these Agents have been trained from historical data, they are deployed to monitor live equipment feeds with all deviations labelled as anomalies and detected by the appropriate Agent.

If an anomaly does not match the signature of a deployed Failure Agent, the anomaly triggers an alert requesting an inspection to determine the cause. The results of the inspection will categorise the anomaly as either a new variation of “normal” or a new never-before-seen failure pattern.

If it is the former, the Anomaly Agent will be updated with this new information to make sure no future false alerts with the same signature occur. If categorised as a new failure, a new Failure Agent will be deployed to allow for earlier detection in the future.

The more operating data the Aspen Mtell platform ingests, the more accurate the alert system becomes and the more context the solution can provide operators. Brooks said around a year’s worth of data often proves enough to know what ‘normal’ looks like while ensuring false alerts are kept to a minimum.

In some instances, Aspen Mtell has managed to get ahead of a potential failure on certain components by 4-6 months, allowing maintenance personnel to strategically schedule maintenance procedures and reduce unplanned downtime, according to Brooks.

“Not only are we able to identify the root cause and failure mode with alerts, but we can also often provide details of exactly what is needed to fix it based on past experience,” he said. Such information is particularly useful in an industry like mining, which has an ageing employee demographic that will, in the future, need to be replaced with a new generation of personnel.

“This is all part of our vision of the ‘Self-Optimizing Plant’,” Brooks said.

The Self-Optimizing Plant, as AspenTech puts it, is a self-adapting, self-learning and self-sustaining set of software technologies that work together to anticipate future conditions and act accordingly, adjusting operations within the context of the enterprise. The plant does this through pervasive real-time access to data and information, combining engineering fundamentals and artificial intelligence, and capturing and using knowledge to optimise across multiple levels, provide recommendations and automate actions securely in a closed feedback loop.

While the mining industry is still some way off adopting such a vision, AspenTech is getting nearer to convincing the sector of its potential future worth.

Brooks provided an example from a mining company with a worldwide presence that was having difficulty with frequent production interruptions caused by unexpected equipment failures as a case in point.

This company decided to deploy Aspen Mtell across a whole site to improve the reliability and availability of equipment, boost production yields and reduce maintenance costs.

On the secondary cone crusher at the operation in question, the Aspen Mtell application gave an extreme early warning and exposed a multi-dimensional pattern showing fast incremental changes, according to AspenTech. This provided the technicians with the required insights to detect the degradation issue and take the appropriate action, avoiding operational complications that can result in production and maintenance costs in the order of $100,000-500,000 per incident.

Similarly, Aspen Mtell was able to deliver a very early lead time and warnings of a bearing issues on the cone crusher, well in advance of the vibration detection system, allowing early action to service a minor issue before a catastrophic failure. This resulted in savings of around $75,000, according to AspenTech.

Equally, monitoring and catching potential bearing problems on conveyors allowed early replacement without the extended shutdowns associated with unplanned maintenance. Such avoidance is generally worth around $1-$1.5 million in operational costs, AspenTech says.

“The net results were that the company was able to better plan and schedule service and repairs on the mobile heavy haul trucks and the static ore processing, improving operators’ safety, extending component lifetimes, and increasing equipment availability besides improving on spare part/resource planning,” it said.

“The positive results encouraged the company to expand the Aspen Mtell application to other mining sites.”

Brooks says this specific company is one of a handful of miners realising the benefits of Aspen Mtell, with the mining sector fast becoming one of AspenTech’s key growth markets behind oil & gas.

And, with AspenTech having just completed the acquisition of Emerson’s OSI Inc and Geological Simulation Software business, there could be many more mining-related opportunities on the horizon.