Tag Archives: automation

Epiroc Canada launches RAC Teams, Control Tower to aid mining’s digital transformation

Epiroc Canada, adapting to changing technological trends in the mining sector, has introduced Regional Application Center (RAC) teams to, it says, assist in the industry’s new digital transformation.

“Across the board, mining projects are continually pushing for increased production while prioritising safety,” the company said. “With this in mind, Epiroc has assembled specialised automation and digitalisation support systems in strategic locations across the globe to help improve customer processes and boost productivity.”

The result, Epiroc says, is a heightened level of production that keeps workers out of danger zones on site while providing enhanced strategic direction for customers. Interoperability improvements have reduced variability and allow project planners to move towards their targets with renewed confidence.

Martin Champagne, Application Center Manager at Epiroc Canada, said: “Our RAC team gives new perspectives on achieving efficiency for the organisations we partner with. The team itself utilises members from a wide range of disciplines; from data analysts and project engineers to network specialists, software developers, IT specialists and digital product managers – the support system is always available when customers need it.”

Epiroc’s Canadian Customer Center has successfully applied this technology since the late 1990s, when the RCS Rocket Boomers with advanced boom controls and autodrill features were first introduced. In 2005, Canadian operations implemented one of the first Epiroc Scooptram Radio Remote Controls using long-range Bluetooth technology; 2009 for the first fleet of semi-autonomous Epiroc Scooptram implementations; 2012 for the first fleet of Pit Viper 235s with tele-remote systems; and 2019 for the first SmartROC D65 autonomous drill.

With Epiroc’s 6th Sense offering, the shift towards automation, digitalisation and interoperability is already underway, and the Regional Application Centers work collaboratively with many industry partners across the globe to achieve their goals, Epiroc said.

It added: “While working together with customers, Epiroc has initiated the move from machine autonomy to process autonomy, which consists of automating a complete process and allowing different kinds of equipment to communicate with each other effectively.”

To help support these functions, a newly renovated Control Tower located at Epiroc’s Lively, Ontario facility now acts as a home base for the RAC team, who are continually collecting data and developing innovative techniques to improve performance.

“Customers utilising this service for their projects can now turn their focus to other areas of the business with the knowledge that Epiroc’s team of experts are carefully monitoring progress on site and offering solutions in real time,” Epiroc concluded.

Sandvik delivers 100th automated loader in APAC region

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it has delivered its 100th loader connected to the AutoMine® platform in the Asia Pacific region.

A Sandvik LH621i loader was delivered to Byrnecut Australia in March, making it Sandvik’s 100th automated load and haul unit to be delivered in APAC.

Sandvik has 30 AutoMine systems installed across Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, with customers including Barminco, OceanaGold, Redpath, and Byrnecut, who now have 11 sites in Australia connected to AutoMine. The first AutoMine system in the region was delivered and commissioned in 2008 for Mount Isa Copper Operations, now owned by Glencore.

AutoMine is Sandvik’s automation system for autonomous and tele-remote operation for a wide range of Sandvik and non-Sandvik underground and surface equipment. It provides a safe and controlled process to increase mine productivity and profitability, as well as protect operators and other mine personnel in underground and surface operations.

AutoMine can be scaled from tele-remote or autonomous operation of a single machine to multi-machine control and full fleet automation with automatic mission and traffic control capability. Operators can simultaneously control or monitor multiple machines from the comfort and safety of a remote control room, Sandvik says.

Sandvik recently demonstrated this capability with the successful trial remote operation of a LH621i loader at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The LH621i was successfully operated from the Remote Operating Centre in OZ Mineral’s Adelaide office, taking OZ Minerals a step closer to realising its goal of remote operations from home.

“The digitalisation field has developed significantly over the years and we have adapted to meet the industry needs along the way,” Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Technical Support Manager – Mine Automation, Ty Osborne, said.

“We have seen our customers change their mindset from ‘this technology is nice but won’t work in our mine’, to, ‘what do have to do to make this work in our mine?’. Our customers are now seeing the value of including digitalisation in their mine planning and recognise the tangible benefits an automated fleet can bring to their operation.”

Ferrexpo confirms trolley assist scoping studies at Poltava

Ferrexpo, as part of its efforts towards integrating into a ‘Green Steel’ supply chain, is embarking on scoping studies looking at installing trolley assist technology at its Poltava mine in Ukraine.

The iron ore miner produced 11.2 Mt of iron ore pellets in 2020 from its Yeristovo and Poltava mines, up from 10.5 Mt in 2019. With iron ore prices on the rise and costs down during the 12-month period, the company recorded underlying EBITDA of $859 million, 46% higher than 2019.

During 2020, the company achieved material reductions in its carbon footprint per tonne for both Scope 1 (8%) and Scope 2 (21%) emissions, with a similar trajectory expected in 2021, Lucio Genovese, Non-executive Chair of Ferrexpo, said.

In the future growth investment program of its 2020 annual results statement, the company unveiled several projects to boost production, operating efficiency and sustainability.

The first one up was its mining fleet automation project.

In December 2020, the company commenced Phase 1 deployment of autonomous trucks at its Yeristovo iron ore mine, also in Ukraine. This project saw Caterpillar 793 haul trucks retrofitted with autonomous haulage capabilities through an agreement with ASI Mining.

The company said: “Phase 1 deployment of autonomous trucks commenced in December 2020, with an expectation to deploy additional autonomous Cat 793 haul trucks to production areas throughout 2021 (Phase 1), delivering gains in both safety and productivity.”

The autonomous truck deployment represents a significant milestone, with Yeristovo becoming the first mine in Europe to successfully invest in this modern technology, Ferrexpo said.

Deployment of autonomous haul trucks follows Ferrexpo’s investment in semi-autonomous/autonomous drill rigs (with Epiroc) and drone surveys since 2017 and 2018, respectively, which have brought significant safety improvements, it said.

“We expect to see similar benefits throughout our mining department as further automation investments are realised,” the company added.

On the trolley assist project at Poltava, Ferrexpo said scoping studies were underway to install a pantograph network of overhead cables in the group’s mines, which would enable haul trucks to ascend the open pit using electricity rather than diesel. It noted benefits were expected in its C1 cost base and Scope 1 carbon footprint.

In December, Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North, told IM that the company planned to move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years as a precursor to applying trolley assist at the operation.

Power infrastructure is already available in the pits energising most of its electric-hydraulic shovels and backhoes, and the intention is for these new electric drive trucks to go on trolley line infrastructure to eradicate some of the operation’s diesel use.

“Initially we would still need to rely on diesel engines at the end of ramps and the bottom of pits, but our intention is to utilise some alternative powerpack on these trucks as the technology becomes available,” North said at the time.

He expected that alternative powerpack to be battery-based, but he and the company were keeping their options open during conversations with OEMs about its fleet replacement plans.

With around 15% of the company’s carbon footprint tied to diesel use, this could have a big impact on Ferrexpo’s ‘green’ credentials, yet North said the transition to trolley assist made sense even without this sustainability benefit.

“The advantages in terms of mining productivity are huge,” North said. “You go from 15 km/h on ramp to just under 30 km/h on ramp.”

Another carbon-reduction project the company is pursuing is the development of a 5 MW pilot solar plant positioned at its concentrator. In its 2020 results statement, the company said procurement for this project was expected in the second half of the year.

There was $4 million of capital outstanding associated with this project in 2021, with the pilot looking to investigate the potential for industrial-scale generation of solar power at the company’s operations, commencing with the 5 MW pilot plant.

Ferrexpo said: “Electricity consumption accounted for 55% of the group’s Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions in 2020, with solar power offering significant potential for cutting the group’s carbon footprint.

“Should this trial be successful, we will look to significantly expand this particular project.”

Automation, electrification, alternative haulage weighed for GSR’s Wassa UG expansion

A preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the potential expansion of Golden Star Resources’ Wassa gold mine in Ghana has flagged the potential for applying alternative underground haulage methods, and autonomous and battery-electric equipment at the operation.

The PEA provides an assessment of the development of the Southern Extension of Wassa and the increase in mining rates to fully use available process plant capacity. While the study itself represents a conservative plan that excludes exploration opportunities from the scope and adopts the current mining practices and equipment, the “opportunities” section of the technical report outlines some more innovative approaches to expanding mining rates and filling the plant capacity.

Wassa, which Golden Star owns 90% of, produced 168,000 oz of gold in 2020 using the sub-level longhole open stoping method.

The PEA is focused on the development of the large inferred mineral resource (just over 7 Moz) which comprises the Southern Extension zone. Around 50% of the total resource was included in the PEA inventory, which showed off a life of mine of 11 years, with total gold production of 3.5 Moz. Average annual gold production of 294,000 oz represented an approximate 75% increase on the current production rate.

The mine plan considers a production rate targeting the processing capacity, at or close to 2.7 Mt/y run-of-mine material, after a five-year ramp-up period. The plant has previously operated at these rates with feed from both Wassa and the Bogoso-Prestea operation (since sold).

Mining would be by underground trackless decline access (1:7 gradient), with access from duplicate access ramps and independent ventilation infrastructure on each side of the deposit to support the increased mining rate and provide efficient access across the mineralised footprint (circa-850 m along circa-300 m across strike). Truck haulage will utilise the dual access ramps.

The mining method proposed for the expansion is bottom-up long hole open stoping with 25 m level spacing and nominal stope sizes of 25 m length x 30 m width x 25-100 m height with cemented paste backfill. Stopes will be mined in a primary-secondary sequence down to around 1,000 m depth, transitioning to pillarless retreat below that point to account for increasing in-situ stress, which will need to be further investigated in future work.

The PEA assumes average recovery of 94.8%, which is supported by current plant performance and metallurgical test work on a small number of samples that suggest processing performance for the Southern Extension feed will be similar to material currently treated. This will be evaluated in the next phase of work.

Capital expenditure is expected to total around $790 million over the life of the PEA mine plan. Of this total, 29% is growth capital and 71% is sustaining capital. The PEA mining method relies on paste fill, with Golden Star confirming the paste fill plant was constructed in 2020 and commissioning is expected to be finalised this quarter. Capital has been allowed for an expansion of the paste fill system in the PEA mine plan.

Based on a $1,300/oz gold price, the expansion project is expected to generate a post-tax net present value (5% discount) of $452.2 million.

So far, so conventional…

The company said it planned to complete option and trade-off studies to optimise the project plan ahead of a feasibility study on the expansion, due in early 2023.

Just some of the innovations being considered in these trade-off studies include the use of automation, electrification and alternative haulage.

In terms of increasing machine productivity through technology, the study listed off the potential use of semi- or fully-autonomous vehicles to increase shift operating time and remove operators from hazardous areas. It said the highest likelihood applications were in production drilling and drawpoint loading.

Golden Star confirmed current projects included in its in-development technology roadmap were the introduction of tele-remote loading and digitalisation of production data.

In terms of haulage infrastructure opportunities, Golden Star said it was considering the replacement of truck haulage with an infrastructure system like shaft hoisting, conveyor, or Rail-Veyor. The capital demand for such options would be offset by a large reduction in operating costs with automated systems, reduced diesel consumption and reduced ventilation demand, it noted.

These haulage options were being studied to design different systems, estimate capital and operating costs, then complete a trade-off analysis, the company said.

The current mine design assumes loaders digging from open passes to load trucks, but Golden Star said feeder systems could be installed to automate loading, increasing efficiency and reducing operating costs.

And, of course, the company said it was considering options for clean energy technology applications, particularly battery-electric trucks. As part of this, it was assessing available systems and developing fleet selection criteria. This will have knock-on benefits to the mine’s ventilation requirements.

TESCAN speeds up and automates mineralogical analysis with TESCAN TIMA

TESCAN ORSAY HOLDING has announced the release of its next-generation TESCAN TIMA, a dedicated solution for automated mineralogical analysis for industrial mineral processing and earth sciences.

TESCAN TIMA delivers rapid access to actionable data across several applications, including mineral quantification, petrography, metallurgy, liberation analysis and other mineralogical or composition studies.

For the mining industry, TESCAN TIMA handles high throughput industrial mineral processing applications with minimal need for operator intervention, according to the company. It automates mineral phase identification, measurement and textural data interpretation, then generates the required process mineralogy reports.

“TESCAN TIMA delivers reliable and reproducible quantitative data to improve processes,” the company said.

Marek Dosbaba, Product Manager, TESCAN, said: “The geosciences community now understands how automated mineralogy can help them ease their research. By providing an alternative to qualitative assessments performed with optical microscopes, TIMA allows researchers to localise minerals of specific importance quickly and provides quantitative insight to elemental composition and morphological characterisation.”

Four energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy detectors, each with their own digital pulse processor, increase throughput speed for sample processing, while TESCAN’s patented high-sensitivity spectral summing algorithm assures accurate and reproducible quantification for low abundance elements, the company says.

TIMA adopts the ease-of-use principals of TESCAN’s Essence graphical user interface so new operators can quickly become proficient and work independently, according to TESCAN. Automation of the process, meanwhile, allows unattended operation for faster processing and access to reproducible quantitative data. TIMA data can be processed offline to maximise the tool time for interactive microanalysis.

When not in use for automated mineralogy, TIMA is a highly capable, standalone field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM), TESCAN says. It shares a platform with the TESCAN MIRA G4 FE-SEM so will be familiar to users of TESCAN’s first generation.

Electric, autonomous transport to be demoed at Volvo CE’s Eskilstuna

Volvo Construction Equipment says it is building the world’s first test and demonstration area for electric, autonomous transport solutions at its Customer Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Construction has already begun on the brand-new area, which will be dedicated to testing and demonstrating the latest innovations in sustainable power, connectivity and autonomous solutions.

This 66,000 m² innovation zone will include a secure track for full-electric, automated and teleoperated machines with charging infrastructure and 5G connectivity, a control and training room building, a spectator stand and training area for the Volvo Co-Pilot assist functions.

Chief among the innovations on display will be the TARA autonomous transport solution from Volvo Autonomous Solutions for defined sites, such as quarries or mines.

At the heart of TARA is the TA15 battery electric and autonomous hauler, the next commercialisation step in the concept that began with the Electric Site project and the bidirectional, cabless, battery electric and autonomous HX02 hauler.

Calle Skillsäter, Technical Specialist in connected machines at Volvo Autonomous Solutions, said: “We are excited to demonstrate our complete TARA solution to customers, including how to set up and run the site, how to charge and store the TA15 electric autonomous haulers, and how we manage the control room and surveillance operations – everything in a brand-new state-of-the-art facility.”

The secure track will also showcase remote-controlled machines, which can also be used in quarries or mines using two tele-operation rigs installed in one of the control rooms. Another of the control rooms, meanwhile, will demonstrate in real time how Volvo CE’s uptime and productivity services can reduce customers’ total cost of ownership and operation, the company said.

Back in July, Volvo Autonomous Solutions President, Nils Jaeger, told IM that the test track already had six TA15 haulers running, and an R&D team was working on the development of future automation functionality/capability as well as operating the current test fleet.

He also confirmed Harsco Environmental and Volvo Autonomous Solutions had a joint project at Harsco’s location at the Ovako Steelworks in Hofors, Sweden, where adapted TA15 haulers were being used as slag carriers during a year-long pilot.

Carl Slotte, Head of Sales Region Europe & International at Volvo CE, added: “This is an important strategic investment, not just for Volvo CE and Volvo Autonomous Solutions but the entire Volvo Group, and is proof of our commitment to drive sustainability through innovation. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to this world-class facility and allowing them to experience exactly how we are building tomorrow.”

The innovation area is expected to open later this year.

Anglo’s Quellaveco to receive the coarse particle recovery treatment

Anglo American has approved the construction of a coarse particle recovery (CPR) plant at its in-development Quellaveco copper project in Peru.

The announcement came within the company’s 2020 financial results, which showed Anglo generated underlying EBITDA of $9.8 billion and a profit attributable to equity shareholders of $2.1 billion for the year.

CPR, Anglo says, is one of many significant breakthrough technology initiatives that has the potential to increase throughput and productivity, while simultaneously reducing environmental footprint, through rejection of coarse gangue (near-worthless waste material), dry stacking of sand waste, minimising the production of traditional tailings and reducing overall water consumption.

The CPR plant signoff at Quellaveco follows a full-scale demo plant installation at the company’s El Soldado mine in Chile – which is ramping up to full capacity by mid-2021 – and the decision to construct a full-scale system at the Mogalakwena North PGM concentrator in South Africa.

The El Soldado plant used the HydroFloat™ CPR technology from Eriez’s Flotation Division. Here, a single 5 m diameter HydroFloat cell, the largest in the world, treats 100% of mill throughput, with the objective of proving the waste rejection process at full scale.

Anglo said of the Quellaveco CPR plant: “This breakthrough technology will initially allow retreatment of coarse particles from flotation tailings to improve recoveries by circa-3% on average over the life of the mine. This investment will also enable future throughput expansion which will bring a reduction in energy and water consumption per unit of production.”

The capital expenditure of the CPR project is around $130 million, with commissioning of the new plant expected in 2022. DRA Global previously carried out a feasibility study for the CPR plant at Quellaveco.

In terms of Quellaveco project progress, Anglo said today that, despite the COVID-19-related slowdown, first production was still expected in 2022. This was, in part, due to the excellent progress achieved prior to the national lockdown, and based on optimised construction and commissioning plans, Anglo said.

Key activities in 2021 include the start of pre-stripping, which will see the first greenfield use of automated hauling technology in Peru; progressing construction of the primary crusher and ore transport conveyor tunnel to the plant; completion of the 95 km freshwater pipeline that will deliver water from the water source area to the Quellaveco site; completing installation of the shells and motors for both milling lines; and completion of the tailings starter dam.

The mine, owned 60% by Anglo and 40% by Mitsubishi Corp, comes with a production blueprint of 300,000 t/y over the first 10 years of the mine.

Gold Fields keeps modernising Granny Smith with Mobilaris solutions

Gold Fields has implemented both Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness at its Granny Smith underground mine in Western Australia as part of an ongoing modernisation program.

In 2018, Gold Fields launched a five-year modernisation program for the site. The first phase’s ambition is to ensure cost efficiency, productivity and a safe work environment by integrating data-driven solutions into the mine.

Michael Place, Mine Manager at Granny Smith, said Gold Field has three dedicated full-time personnel to work on the modernisation program. It has also employed external consultants and contractors to assist with the integration.

“Together, we integrate an underground LTE system to have full connectivity in the mine,” he said.

Gold Fields’ investment will also have environmental effects over time as its digitalisation allows the company to work more sustainably.

“Moving into a more digital world is going to make sure that we are sustainable long-term,” Place said. “For instance, we can maintain our cost profile during expansion and follow up on our environmental footprint.”

Historically, underground blasting has been one of the biggest time thieves in the Granny Smith Mine, with the operation currently losing four hours of production in a 24-hour period due to the firing. With the ongoing modernisation program, Place looks for the mine to become more efficient than before.

“Integrating technology into the mine allows us to look at options to reduce the inactive time,” he said. “We can increase efficiency through autonomous equipment, remote operations, and digital solutions. The expected outcome is a 5-15% increase in productivity.”

The Granny Smith Mine has close to 4,000 different locations, with over 100 employees underground at the same time. It already runs 1.2 km deep and, like many mines, is under constant development.

Michael Place, Mine Manager at Granny Smith

In 2019, a group from Gold Fields Granny Smith, including General Manager, Andrew Bywater, visited Boliden in Sweden to study the use of the Mobilaris product suite, with focus on Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness in the Kristineberg mine.

Mobilaris Onboard, working as a machine navigator underground, creates traffic awareness and a safe and effective traffic flow, according to the company. Based on real-time data, Mobilaris Situational Awareness enables transparency and awareness. The information makes it possible to control the operations and resources, and people can quickly act upon what is happening and make smart decisions faster, Mobilaris says.

Because Mobilaris data and positions were shared in real time, the operation had seen an increase in safety and efficiency, according to Mobilaris.

This visit has since led to Gold Fields implementing both Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness at its underground operations at Granny Smith.

Place said: “Mobilaris Onboard allows us to navigate to all locations underground quickly and efficiently. It will improve our productivity and decrease inactive time by reducing traffic congestion and finding equipment and machines faster.

“We are a haulage-constrained mine and, by reducing the cycle time of our haulage fleet, we can raise our productivity. It is a significant benefit.”

Strong customer relations allows Mobilaris to develop and test all products in real environments, as well as the possibility to bring companies to customer’s sites to experience the products in use, Mobilaris said.

“Our close relationship with the customer is a crucial success factor for Mobilaris,” Pascal Hansson, Sales Director, Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering, said. “All our solutions are tested in Boliden’s and other companies’ underground mines. This gives us the confidence to deliver what we promise to our customers.”

Gold Fields has plans to use Mobilaris Situational Awareness as its number one source of information and integrate it with fleet management, inventory systems, and the daily shift scheduler, according to Mobilaris. The mine’s digital investment is expected to pay off within a year, it added.

Place explained: “The location data will synchronise with daily schedules to ensure real-time data is captured from the time jobs are planned and executed. We are looking at efficiency improvements, but we are currently introducing this technology to maintain our production profile with the increasing depth and costs.”

The Gold Fields modernisation program has full support from top to bottom and is expected to be finished over the next two years, Mobilaris said.

During the research process, Gold Fields discovered that Mobilaris Onboard addresses specific safety issues. By sharing positional data and navigation in 3D, drivers can avoid traffic congestion and find shelter during emergencies.

Place said: “We have installed tablets in all our heavy vehicles. With Onboard’s traffic awareness feature, we can minimise the vehicle-vehicle interaction and the vehicle-personnel interaction. The application also tells us where to find the three nearest refuge chambers to our location. So, if there is an emergency, we can get the quickest path to safety.”

Maptek looks back on 40 years of mining software advances

Maptek is looking back on its roots, 40 years after geologist Bob Johnson laid foundations for the company to become a leading provider of innovative software, hardware and services for the mining industry.

In the mid-1970s, Johnson opened a small bureau service above a row of shops in suburban Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, to computerise coal seam drafting. That venture was the precursor to Maptek, which today develops, sells and supports innovative mining solutions to more than 20,000 users worldwide.

In 1981, Johnson then formed a company to allow customers to do their own computer work. That became Maptek, which today employs 350 staff in 18 offices to support a customer base including the world’s biggest mines across more than 90 countries.

“The transformation from startup to global technology developer did not happen overnight,” Maptek founder Johnson acknowledges, as he reflects on what defines Maptek today. “Innovation results from many small increments – it rarely happens from an epiphany.

“We started off by computerising the plotting of boreholes and mapping of coal deposits, which, until then, was a very tedious manual process. People were asking if it worked for all commodities, not just coal, and I realised we needed to put the software in the hands of the users. This was how Maptek came about.”

Johnson states that Maptek sets and continuously strivers to hit a high standard.

“Early computing in the 1980s was the breeding ground for automating manual tasks and it was a challenge to convince some people to replace existing practices,” he said. “Tradition dies hard!

“Maptek integrated multiple steps in the computerisation of mining applications. In this way we were able to own the workflow and it’s probably key to why our first customer, BHP Coal, remains a customer today.”

He added: “Do something different and stay in front is a guiding principle that remains a key business value for Maptek.”

Fast forward to 2021 where CEO Eduardo Coloma is embracing the vision, with a long-term technology development roadmap to deliver state-of-the-art solutions and exceptional customer experience, the company says.

“Maptek intends to stay ahead by continuing to be a disruptive influence and affect change for the betterment of the mining industry,” Coloma says.

The new Mining 4.0 paradigm has five characteristics, according to Coloma.

“Vast amounts of data; delivering that data to the right people at the right time; efficient data storage and universal access to it; using technology for computationally-intensive tasks; and data-driven decision making…all need to be balanced,” he said. “Add to that the challenges that the pandemic unleashed!”

He added: “With challenge comes opportunity. Miners are continually on the lookout for smarter processes.

“Maptek was conceived 40 years ago at the start of the digital revolution. Customers today have an ever-growing appetite for technologies to enable digitalisation and automation. They are not afraid of new technology and look to us to lead them.

“It’s not just technology that is fast-evolving, the people and organisations who consume it must also be open to adopting new ways of working. Digitalisation has provided the conduit for data to be universally accessible and dynamically updatable.

“We want to make sure our customers get the most of their data, sharing it across the organisation in such a way that everyone benefits. Data is being democratised!”

A data-driven culture embraces systems which are robust, repeatable and user-independent, according to Coloma.

“Crucially these systems meet the needs of a mobile, shift-based and geographically dispersed workforce,” he said.

“We build technology solutions that allow our customers to turn their data into knowledge and use that knowledge to support business improvement. We provide an automated decision support ecosystem…they provide their individual experience and intuition to make that knowledge relevant to their business.

“Already we are exploiting machine learning and digital twinning to connect the planning cycle to production performance data for comparing performance against plans.”

With fewer barriers to extending technology within mines, companies are looking at the entire value chain to make improvements. Maptek can help connect processes, functions and data to enable more accurate, predictable and profitable operation of mines, it says.

In closing, Coloma explains why Maptek is well placed to help mining companies use their data as a bridge to continuous improvement.

“Our unique culture, instilled by our founder Bob Johnson, gives staff a great amount of freedom to be innovative,” he said. “It fosters imagination everywhere and is the key to continued success.

“We give our customers the freedom to dream and ask for solutions to their real world problems.

“Our enduring relationships with customers are hugely important in our ability to solve these challenges. Bob mentioned our first customer, who remains a customer today. But accepting that change is inevitable is a reminder to us not to rest on tradition.”

From compliance to commitment: a key opportunity for the global mining industry

In the lead up to the AusIMM Underground Operators Conference in March, Roy Slack, immediate past President of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and Underground Operators keynote speaker, has shared his insights on the future of underground mining and the positive impact technology can have on safety.

With 35 years of global experience in mine construction, design and development, Slack is passionate about securing the mining industry’s place as a global leader for change.

“Our industry is on a journey from compliance to commitment,” he said. “From a state where we strive to just meet regulatory requirements, to a place where we meet and far surpass those requirements – not because we are legally required to do so, but because it is a moral imperative.”

Slack discusses how young professionals have an exciting opportunity to build the future of underground mining.

“Today’s youth are entering the industry, or have the opportunity to enter our industry, at a time of great change,” he said. “Change in technology, change in how we deal with people, change in the overall business model that is mining.”

As the mining industry rapidly transforms with new technologies and exciting innovations, Slack believes the whole sector needs to get on board with a fresh way of thinking.

“We need people that thrive on change, that embrace and know what to do with it.”

After such a challenging year, Slack is confident in the resiliency of the mining industry.

“What we continue to see during this pandemic is our industry recognised as an essential service, and mining companies taking the lead when it comes to establishing protocols to protect their people from the virus,” he said.

The industry’s reaction to COVID-19 displayed its agility in adjusting to circumstances, Slack says.

“Productivity did not suffer, and employees were able to better deal with work and home needs.”

Slack has been active in numerous safety initiatives over the years, as well as being appointed to the Province of Ontario’s first Prevention Council, advising the government on workplace safety. He also chairs the CIM Safety Committee.

He says new technologies will create a real sense of support and safety in the workplace for all professionals.

“I am excited about the huge potential of emerging technologies to make our workplaces not just safer, but safe,” he said. “Technology has always been an important part of safety, but the more recent applications of the technology available to us add a whole new perspective on our journey to zero injuries.”

Slack looks forward to the positive and safer benefits technology can create for on-site workers, with the pandemic in some cases speeding up the implementation of automation, remote operations and more.

Ultimately, Slack sees best practice in safety as a three-part equation: “Process, culture and technology; together protecting our people and ultimately achieving a safe workplace,” he said.

AusIMM’s Underground Operators Conference will be held from March 15-17, 2021, via a hybrid format, which offers an opportunity for delegates to attend face-to-face in Perth, Australia or online.

Find out more at https://www.ausimm.com/conferences-and-events/underground-operators

International Mining is a media sponsor of the event