Tag Archives: Automine

MMG, Barminco trialling Sandvik autonomous LHD at Dugald River

MMG and Barminco are trialling an automated LHD at the Dugald River mine, in Queensland, Australia, as both miner and contractor look to further boost production at the zinc-lead operation.

While still early days, Barminco (part of the Perenti Group) has a fully autonomous Sandvik LH621i LHD running at the mine, having introduced the loader to increase output.

Sandvik says the AutoMine®-ready LH621i is an intelligent 21 t loader designed for rapid mine development and large scale underground mine production.

“With superior hydraulic power for fast bucket filling and drivetrain power for high ramp speed, the Sandvik LH621i is designed to quickly clear tunnel headings for rapid advance rates,” the OEM added.

MMG’s Dugald River produced 35,505 t of zinc concentrate and 4,277 t of lead concentrate during the March quarter of 2020. While both numbers were lower than the same period of 2019 and the December quarter that preceded it due to lower grades, mining and milling volumes of 462,570 t and 443,378 t, respectively, were both in line with plan.

In this same results release, MMG said of the Dugald River operations: “After an aggressive and successful ramp up during 2019, work in 2020 will continue to focus on opening up new operating areas, to ensure a steady feed of ore to the mill.

“The optimisation of recoveries will be a major area of focus in the processing plant. This work will be key in ensuring Dugald River remains on track to deliver annual mine capacity of 2 Mt and targeted zinc-equivalent production in excess of 200,000 t per annum, by 2022.”

The mine, which achieved commercial production in May 2018, is expected to produce 170,000-180,000 t/y of zinc concentrate in 2020.

K92 Mining continues to add new equipment at expanding Kainantu gold mine

K92 Mining, despite the onset of COVID-19, has made significant progress on its plans to increase production at its Kainantu gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

In March 2020, Kainantu achieved a major milestone, commencing the first long hole stope using the modified AVOCA method. This method is ideal for narrow vein/lens higher-grade stopes and can provide higher tonnages through continuous fill and blasting, as well as improved dilution control, according to the company.

The commencement of this new mining method is significant since previous mining has been exclusively from lower productivity and higher-cost development and cut and fill stoping, K92 said.

The first stope was from the K1 Vein and, to date, long hole stoping activities have performed in-line with design and have been increasing, providing a notable positive impact on operational flexibility, the company added.

Mining operations, which have been expanding in line with the 2019 decision to expand throughput to 400,000 t/y, from 200,000 t/y, have also benefited from further additions to the mining fleet.

The Papua New Guinea COVID-19 State of Emergency declared on March 20, 2020, saw limited impact to freight, with the arrival of a third Sandvik LH517i underground LHD loader with AutoMine® capabilities, a third CAT AD45B 45 t underground truck and two Terex Articulated surface haul trucks, since its declaration. The Government of Papua New Guinea ended the COVID-19 State of Emergency on June 16, resulting in a further easing of some of the restrictions, particularly around domestic movement.

“The equipment joins a significantly expanded and modernised fleet since the decision to proceed with the Stage 2 Expansion on March 13, 2019,” K92 said.

Back in January, the company said it expected a Sandvik DS421 cable bolter to arrive this quarter, alongside a modular batching plant. The company said earlier this month that this unit (pictured), as well as three new and high powered diamond drill rigs were in transit to the mine.

Twin incline activities have recently recommenced at Kainantu with the easing of restrictions from the state of emergency. Ground support for the portal is also underway, with portalling and the installation of steel sets expected to commence in the first half of the September quarter, the company said.

The process plant, meanwhile, has achieved multiple daily throughput records during the June quarter, significantly exceeding the 200,000 t/y, or circa-550 t/d nameplate capacity, with over 700 t/d achieved on multiple occasions.

“The strong performance of the process plant and underground mine to date are expected to result in gold-equivalent production exceeding March quarter output,” the company said.

The March quarter saw K92 produce 19,240 oz of gold, 339,993 lb (154 t) of copper and 6,937 oz of silver for a total of 19,934 gold-equivalent ounces, representing the second highest quarter on record. Gold-equivalent production in 2019 was 82,256 oz, with 115,000-125,000 oz of gold-equivalent scheduled in 2020.

Preparations are also being made to recommence Stage 2 process plant commissioning in the near term, to double plant throughput capacity to 400,000 t/y. All the equipment is installed, and commissioning is expected to commence in first half of the September quarter, with completion targeted at the end of that three-month period, K92 said.

John Lewins, K92 Chief Executive Officer and Director, added that a Stage 3 Expansion preliminary economic assessment is planned for July.

Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik achieve teleremote drilling first

Contract miner Byrnecut Australia has become the first underground operator in the world to successfully use a new automation and teleremote package for Sandvik development drills.

Byrnecut introduced a Sandvik DD422i development drill featuring the package to OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill gold-copper mine, southeast of Coober Pedy, South Australia, in March.

With COVID-19 travel restrictions preventing Sandvik staff from attending site, Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik experts collaborated via phone, teleconference and email to complete remote commissioning of the rig.

The two-boom rig, which can be monitored and controlled from the surface and features a sophisticated boom-collision-avoidance system, has now been in operation for three weeks, according to the companies.

Byrnecut Australia Managing Director, Pat Boniwell, says the new automation features allow for enhanced drill operation across shift changes – a period when, historically, development drilling has stopped or been significantly reduced.

“We’re conservatively looking at a 10% increase in productivity with this machine through being able to drill extra holes and the machine being used more consistently,” he said. “It picks up on the deadtime, and if it does stop for any reason we’re able to remotely reset it.”

The new boom collision avoidance system means both of the rig’s drill booms can be left in operation during shift change – something that was previously not possible. In the first few weeks of operation, the drill has been able to drill 60-70 holes while being operated autonomously and remotely from surface, the companies said.

General Manager of OZ Minerals Prominent Hill operations, Gabrielle Iwanow, says when Byrnecut approached her about trialling the upgraded development drill, she was immediately interested.

“OZ Minerals is a modern mining company,” she said. “We’re interested in innovation and looking for safer, faster, and more efficient ways of doing our work.”

Iwanow said the commissioning of the drill in such trying times is a true credit to all those involved and the positive working relationship between OZ Minerals, Byrnecut and Sandvik.

Byrnecut Drill Master, Noah Wilkinson, says a solid working relationship with Sandvik and good communication contributed to the success of the commissioning.

“People from the Sandvik factory in Finland were able to remote into the machine over the internet and adjust settings that were stopping some of the functions from working,” he explained.

Sandvik’s Global Account Manager for Byrnecut, Andrew Atkinson, paid credit to Byrnecut’s openness to adopting autonomous technologies in areas including development drilling, loader operation, production drilling and ore trucks, which are all engineered for compatibility with Sandvik’s AutoMine® and OptiMine® products.

In addition to the collision avoidance and teleremote capabilities of the DD422i, the new automation package allows for semi-autonomous bit changing.

Another handy feature of the setup during the current period of social distancing has been the virtual network computing capability that allows the control panel of the drill to be viewed remotely on a tablet. This means that during operator training, the instructor need not be in the cabin with the operator.

Sandvik ramps up Automine truck automation efforts

Sandvik says it has released a new solution that will allow automated underground trucks to continue seamlessly through ramp portals to the surface to complete the dumping cycle.

Having offered a sneak peek of this product at the Digitalization in Mining event in Brisbane, Australia, in December, the company has now gone public with the launch.

AutoMine® for Trucks is a first for autonomous ramp haulage applications in the underground mining industry, providing autonomous truck haulage not only in underground environments but also now on the surface, according to the company. “It turns Sandvik’s intelligent mining trucks into unmanned robots; robots that keep running,” Sandvik said.

For many years, mining operations across the world have benefitted from Sandvik’s intelligent AutoMine systems for autonomous and unmanned truck haulage. “They help to reduce equipment damage, repair work and add the highest levels of efficiency and fleet utilisation, giving a lower cost per tonne,” the company says. They are scalable for different mining applications and can be supervised from remote locations.

Riku Pulli, Vice President, BU Automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Continuously setting the industry standard, we have now developed the industry-first, fully autonomous underground trucks that can operate in mining levels and mine declines including both underground and surface sections. These trucks are set to revolutionise the mining industry, bringing significant improvements in mine’s productivity and safety.”

A key requirement for an autonomous ramp haulage application is to enable the capability for trucks to operate autonomously not only underground but also on the surface. With this product release, Sandvik has unlocked this capability for its customers, it says.

The different elements of the newly added capabilities have been tested at many of mine sites with existing experience of AutoMine for Trucks, a Sandvik spokesperson confirmed.

A core innovation behind the new capability is the smart handover technology that allows trucks to switch from underground to surface navigation mode in real time. This allows trucks to continue through the ramp portal seamlessly to the surface to complete the dumping cycle.

AutoMine also connects directly to Sandvik OptiMine®, enabling production planning and automatic dispatching of tasks to AutoMine for production execution, according to Sandvik. The progress of production tasks is reported back to OptiMine giving mines real-time visibility of their automated and manual operations and enabling them to make informed decisions on their operation.

Other benefits of OptiMine include equipment and people location tracking, 3D mine visualisation and predictive analytics to transform data into actionable insights. Integration with My Sandvik Productivity allows mines to keep track of their trucks’ condition and know the real-time status of the fleet, the company says.

Kibali automation journey to be discussed at SME Conference

One of the most autonomous underground mines in the world, Barrick Gold’s Kibali operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recently hit another annual production record.

The mine soared past its 2019 production guidance of 750,000 oz of gold, with 814,027 oz being delivered. This topped the previous 2018 record of 807,251 oz.

At this year’s SME MineXchange Annual Conference & Expo, in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 26, Ismali Traore, Kibali Technical Services Manager, is to reveal more about how the operation has continued to surpass expectations and how safety has become front and centre at the mine, owned 45% by Barrick, 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by SOKIMO.

In his conference abstract, Traore said, in recent years, the mine has made significant progress by implementing a fully automated production level and material handling system (MHS) at the underground mine.

This sees up to three LHDs operated simultaneously from ore passes to the crusher and multiple LHDs from the stope to the finger raises. The entire automation system is remotely operated from a control room located on surface.

In a recent presentation, the Kibali partners said the system was designed to have autonomous Sandvik LH621 LHDs work in combination with a Sanvdik AutoMine loading system (ALS). The ALS Mission Control System is incorporated with features such as traffic management, auto-loading and tipping with real time tonne-kilometres/h, and a real-time bucket weighing system that is within 3% accuracy level for each bucket trammed to the coarse ore bins (COB) at the operation.

The MHS, meanwhile, uses data obtained from the ALS to interface with SCADA via an OPC interface, according to the partners. COB levels from the SCADA system are then interfaced with ALS to manage the loading of the bins.

All information is interfaced to achieve the nameplate capacity of the hoisting system – which WorleyParsons provided the operating philosophy for and Winder Controls (member of the SIEMAG TECBERG Group) provided the winder design for – while taking into consideration the availability of the ALS to equate the total MHS availability, they said.

In its objective of becoming one of the most efficient Tier One mines globally where safety is a focal point of the operation, a significant amount of time was spent on the traffic management and human interaction with the autonomous mining equipment, Traore said.

This is something Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, picked up on last month, saying the mine is continuing its technological advance with the introduction of truck and drill training simulators and the integration of systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation demand control.

Traore is to expand on the important safety protocols implemented to mitigate the risk of collision between this equipment and humans within the automated system during his presentation.

Barrick continues to adopt new technologies at Kibali gold mine

Barrick Gold says its 45%-owned Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is continuing its technological advances with the introduction of truck and drill training simulators and the integration of systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation on demand.

The mine, which is owned 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by SOKIMO, surpassed its 2019 guidance of 750,000 oz in 2019, delivering 814,027 oz in another record year, Barrick said this week.

Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, told a media briefing that Kibali’s continuing stellar performance was a demonstration of how a modern, Tier One gold mine could be developed and operated successfully in what is one of the world’s most remote and infrastructurally under-endowed regions.

He also noted that, in line with Barrick’s policy of employing, training and advancing locals, the mine was managed by a majority Congolese team, supported by a corps of majority Congolese supervisors and personnel.

Kibali is already one of the world’s most highly automated underground gold mines, with the operation’s backbone being Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleet system, supervised on surface by a single operator. In a world first, it allows a fleet of up to five LHDs to be operated autonomously, 750 m below the surface, within the same 6 m x 6 m production drive while using designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow, the company says. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes, according to Barrick.

The company said it had now introduced truck and drill training simulators and integrated systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation demand control, adding that the simulators will also be used to train operators from Barrick’s Tanzanian mines.

Bristow also said that the company was maintaining a strong focus on energy efficiency at the mine through the development of its grid stabiliser project, scheduled for commissioning in the June quarter of 2020.

He said: “This uses new battery technology to offset the need for running diesel generators as a spinning reserve and ensures we maximise the use of renewable hydro power. The installation of three new elution diesel heaters will also help improve efficiencies and control power costs. It’s worth noting that our clean energy strategy not only achieves cost and efficiency benefits but also once again reduces Kibali’s environmental footprint.”

Bristow said despite the pace of production and the size and complexity of the mine, Kibali was maintaining its solid safety and environmental records, certified by ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 accreditations.

Sandvik’s largest electric LHD receives an upgrade as it heads to Kiruna

Sandvik says it is preparing to deliver its renewed Sandvik LH625iE electric loader for field testing at the LKAB-owned Kiruna mine, in northern Sweden.

The unit to be tested is the 600th electric loader from Sandvik, and is custom-designed to meet the needs of the underground iron ore mine, it said.

The underground loader, which features a 9.5 m³ bucket and 25,000 kg payload capacity, is designed to operate in the world’s largest underground iron ore mine.

The basic LH625iE design is well-proven (and based on the LH625E, pictured), according to Sandvik, with the equipment manufacturer delivering electric loaders powered by a trailing cable for more than 35 years.

In addition to using the proven design and robust structures, today’s Sandvik LH625iE belongs to its i-series, featuring advanced technology, latest digital solutions and smart connectivity. This sees the new Sandvik LH625iE equipped with Sandvik Intelligent Control System and My Sandvik Digital Services Knowledge Box™ as standard. To utilise the payload capacity it offers, the loader can also be fitted with Sandvik’s Integrated Weighing System, as well as AutoMine® and OptiMine® solutions, Sandvik said.

With a total length of 14 m, bucket width of 4 m and cabin height of 3 m, the LH625iE is able to offer a roomy, ergonomically designed operator’s compartment, Sandvik said. “For example, the spacious cabin is equipped with a unique 180° turning seat which significantly improves operator ergonomics because it can be turned to face in the direction of travel rather than requiring over-the-shoulder visibility. The upgraded Sandvik LH625iE has an IE4 classified energy-efficient electric motor, with a further significant improvement being the totally new, low-tension reeling system to increase the trailing cable’s lifetime. “

The collaboration between Sandvik and LKAB’s mine in Kiruna dates back 20 years, during which time Sandvik has delivered a total of 28 loaders.

Michael Palo, Senior Vice President, Northern Division at LKAB, said: “We are satisfied with the loaders delivered from Sandvik, with 14 still in production today. We have had a long and good collaboration and look forward to a good continuation.”

Sandvik concluded: “The Sandvik LH625iE is living proof that it is possible to achieve enormous carrying capacity and productivity without the use of traditional diesel engines and fossil fuel.”

Battery-electric loaders are also providing evidence of this, with Sandvik saying it had received positive results from its testing of Artisan A10 battery-electric loaders in Canada.

Sandvik showcases digital mining developments in Brisbane

Last week, close to 300 leaders from the mining, construction and quarrying industries from Australia, Japan and Indonesia met in Brisbane, Australia, for a two-day summit, hosted by Sandvik, to showcase best practice examples of digitalisation.

The Digitalization in Mining event, on December 3-4, allowed Sandvik to demonstrate its latest digital offering and introduce participants to the latest innovations across its product portfolio, including process optimisation with OptiMine®, information management through My Sandvik digital services and autonomous operation with AutoMine ̶ together with the latest equipment in underground and surface drilling, loading and hauling, crushing and screening and the rock tools management system.

During the event Sandvik also announced two product launches: AutoMine Access API, which gives mines the power to connect non-Sandvik equipment to AutoMine, and its first Stage V compliant underground loaders for hard-rock mining applications.

Jim Tolley, Vice President, Sales Area Australia Pacific, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said digitalisation is helping companies to grow and optimise their operations. “Our partners were keen to join us at this event because they know that digitalisation has a critical part to play in making their mines sustainable for the future.”

Day one of the event featured speakers from mining companies across Australia, as well as leaders in mining technology, process optimisation and automation. They explained the benefits their organisations have gained by implementing automation and process optimisation solutions, as well as the accompanying change in mindset, according to Sandvik.

The following presentations set the program for the day, followed by a panel discussion:

  • Shaping the Industry Digital Ecosystem (Sandvik);
  • Holistic Perspective, Focusing on Productivity, Safety and Optimised Machine Performance (Byrnecut);
  • Developing the Mine of Tomorrow (Barminco Ltd);
  • Machine Learning  ̶  Keeping it Real with Case Studies from across the Mine Value Chain (PETRA Data Science);
  • Capturing Opportunities for Digital and other Product Technology Solutions (Rio Tinto);
  • Automation Technology to Improve Efficiency and Consistency in Longwall Development Operations (Glencore);
  • Direction of Technology and Automation (Newcrest); and
  • Data Privacy, Rights and Control (Sandvik).

Pat Boniwell, Managing Director, Byrnecut Australia, said the industry will improve productivity, safety and optimise machine performance through a more “fundamental understanding” of the individual processes that make up our operations.

“New technology, automation, data transfer and analysis will all assist us in increasing the utilisation of our resources,” he said. “Data is essential, but if it is not being looked at then we are just gathering data for the sake of it. We need to continue to increase the levels of engagement between all stakeholders.”

He concluded: “We are doomed to failure unless we take our people with us and are prepared to question and be challenged.”

PETRA CEO, Penny Stewart, meanwhile, homed in on machine learning, which, she said, powers “digital twin prediction, simulation and optimisation to increase mine productivity, efficiency and yield, by showing engineers and supervisors how to reproduce their ‘best performance’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.

She added: “PETRA’s MAXTA™ Suite digital twin applications provide platform agnostic software-as-service operational decision support across the mine value chain ̶ from resource engineering through to processing plant set point optimisation.”

Day two of the event began with a presentation on sustainability by Henrik Ager (pictured), President, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, explaining how critical it is for long-term performance.

“Driving productivity and greenhouse gas efficiency together is going to be key for us at Sandvik, improving productivity and greenhouse gas efficiency will be the best way for us to add value for our customers,” he said. “My view is that the more we link our sustainability targets to normal business targets and find ways to combine them to achieve a common good, the better chance we have to deliver on them.”

Also, during the second day, delegates had the opportunity of a virtual visit to several Sandvik customers, including: Northparkes Mine (Australia), Resolute Mining Syama mine (West Africa), RedBull Powder Company (New Zealand) and Aeris Resources Tritton mine (Australia).

Harry Hardy, General Manager Customer Accounts, Applications Engineering and Marketing, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, Sales Area APAC, said the company often gets asked for reference cases and data to illustrate the value and payback of digital solutions. “Over the two days of the conference, our customers were able to share their own experiences and quantitatively demonstrate how our solutions have helped increase their productivity, reduce their production costs and increase their safety.”

Sandvik unlocks ‘automation’s full potential’ with AutoMine Access API

Sandvik has opened its AutoMine® platform to the rest of the industry with what it says is the mining sector’s first interoperability platform for autonomous underground loaders and trucks.

The AutoMine Access API delivers on the company’s promise made earlier this year at Goldcorp’s #DisruptMining event and is the next step in Sandvik’s continued journey to “set the industry standard for mine automation and digitalisation”, it said.

The application programming interface (API) gives mines the power to connect non-Sandvik equipment to AutoMine – moving underground mining digitalisation even further, it said.

This interoperability move comes just over a year since

Patrick Murphy, President Rock Drills & Technologies, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “As a world leader in underground automation, we have a responsibility to make this game-changing technology easier to implement for the mining industry.

“While we think customers will achieve the highest performance with Sandvik equipment, we recognise the need to unlock automation’s full potential for all equipment regardless of manufacturer. Customers with mixed fleets will now have the full power of AutoMine behind them.”

The AutoMine Access API is a standard set of pre-defined interfaces for connecting third-party loaders and trucks to AutoMine. This means a mixed fleet of underground loaders and trucks can now be managed and controlled with one seamless system.

“An API is a set of functions and procedures that allows the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service,” Sandvik said, adding that the third-party equipment is required to meet the AutoMine safety standards.

The API is another step in Sandvik’s journey to drive a digital ecosystem that makes mining smarter, safer and more productiv, it said.

In 2018, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology released its Interoperability Policy outlining how Sandvik systems can communicate within a digital ecosystem including data accessibility, fleet data compatibility, data rights and control, and data privacy.

The momentum continued in 2019 with the acquisition of Newtrax, a leader in wireless IoT connectivity for underground hard-rock mining, and the announcement that My Sandvik, Sandvik’s telemetry solution for machine health and productivity data, would also be available for non-Sandvik equipment.

“Sandvik has been leading the market in underground digitalisation for years, with thousands of pieces of equipment around the world connected to our digital technology,” Murphy said. “As more customers embark on their digital journeys, interoperability will be a requirement. We are proud to leverage our experience to drive digitalisation further in the mining industry.”

Sandvik opens up connections following Newtrax buy

Following the acquisition of Newtrax, Sandvik has announced that the My Sandvik telemetry offering will be extended, creating the opportunity to connect non-Sandvik fleet to the My Sandvik platform.

The move, which is expected to see the first non-Sandvik machine connected to My Sandvik via Newtrax technology in the December quarter, will be done in line with Sandvik’s Interoperability Policy, released in April 2018, it said.

The company explained: “Through solutions such as My Sandvik, OptiMine® and AutoMine®, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has developed and deployed a leading suite of technology offerings to enable digitalisation of mining operations.

“These products and related services have proven to be extremely valuable in helping customers to improve safety, drive productivity to new levels and reduce costs.”

To date, Sandvik has connected well over 3,000 pieces of mobile equipment to My Sandvik, OptiMine and AutoMine, according to the company.

The company continued: “Although Sandvik has built an impressive portfolio of digital solutions, the first step of the digitalisation journey is often for customers to connect mobile assets through My Sandvik. This Sandvik telemetry solution provides significant, valuable operational insights and enables easy fact-based decision-making through the reporting and visualisation of machine health and productivity data.”

The acquisition of the digital mining technology company Newtrax, completed earlier this year, “strengthens Sandvik’s leading position in automation and digitalisation”, the company said. “The digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes, in combination with Newtrax’s leading technology in wireless IoT connectivity, provide the customer with a streamlined digital solution regardless of the origin of their fleet.”

Michaël Bruninx, VP Parts & Services Commercial, says: “We regard mixed fleet interoperability to be the next logical step for the My Sandvik platform. While we believe Sandvik has the best products within our scope of offering, mixed fleets at our customers’ mine sites are a reality.

“We’ve formed an impressive foundation with Sandvik machines at over 170 mine sites around the world connected to My Sandvik. Now those customers, and new ones, will be able to leverage My Sandvik telemetry reporting across their entire fleets, regardless of brand.”