Tag Archives: Codelco

ICMM looks to align mining industry on cleaner, safer vehicles

When the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) launched its Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) program just over a year ago, some industry participants may not have realised how much progress could be made so quickly by taking a collaborative approach.

The ICMM has proven influential across the mining industry since its foundation in 2002 in areas such as corporate and social governance, environmental responsibility, and stakeholder relations, yet it has rarely, until this point, engaged directly as an industry group with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers.

Close to 12 months after being established, it’s clear to see the program and the council itself has been successful in bridging a divide.

It has been able to corral a significant portion of the mining and mining OEM market players into a major industry discussion on core focus areas set to dominate the sector for the next two decades.

Now 27 of the world’s leading mining companies and 16 of the best-known truck and mining equipment suppliers are collaborating in a non-competitive space “to accelerate the development of a new generation of mining vehicles that will make vehicles cleaner and safer,” the ICMM says.

The ICSV program was created to address three of the most critical safety, health and environment performance issues in the ICMM’s mission towards zero harm and decarbonisation. Achieving this goal would involve the industry introducing and adopting the next generation of equipment to respond to the challenges.

More specifically, the program aims to:

  • Introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040;
  • Minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025; and
  • Make collision avoidance technology (capable of eliminating vehicle related collisions) available to mining companies by 2025.

In all three, it seeks to address the industry’s innovation challenge of ‘who motivates who’ or the chicken and egg analogy, according to Sarah Bell, Director, Health, Safety and Product Stewardship for the ICMM.

“You can imagine a mining company saying, ‘we can’t adopt technology that doesn’t yet exist’ or an OEM saying, ‘we can’t invest in development because we’re getting mixed market signals’. This is, of course, why this program has been set up in the way it has,” she told IM. “Bringing both the mining company and OEMs together, they have been able to work through these normal innovation challenges and align on defining the direction of travel and critical complexity to be solved for each of the ambitions set.”

High-level participation

The list of companies the ICMM has been able to involve in this program is impressive.

It is being guided by a CEO advisory group of six; three from the mining community – Andrew Mackenzie (CEO, BHP), Mark Cutifani (CEO, Anglo American) and Nick Holland (CEO, Gold Fields) – and three from the mining equipment supply side – Denise Johnson (Group President of Resource Industries at Caterpillar), Max Moriyama (President of the Mining Business Division at Komatsu) and Henrik Ager (President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology).

On the mining company front, ICMM membership makes up around 30% of the total metal market share, with some 46% in copper, 27% in gold and 42% in iron ore. Participating OEMs and third-party technology providers, meanwhile, include the three majors above, plus Cummins, Epiroc, Wabtec Corporation (formerly GE), Hexagon Mining, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Liebherr, MacLean Engineering, MTU, Modular Mining Systems, PBE Group, Nerospec, Future Digital Communication and Miller Technology.

Bell says the high-level participation builds the “widespread confidence” needed to accelerate investment in these three key areas”, while the ICMM’s focus on the leadership side of the technology integration equation and change management has proven “absolutely key”.

She clarified: “This collaboration operates under anti-competition and anti-trust rules. Our role is to convene the parties, motivate action and promote solutions.”

The program offers a “safe space for the OEMs and members to work openly in a non-competitive environment”, she added, explaining that the aim is not to come up with “preferred technologies”, but define the “functional and operational pathways required to meet the ambitions set”.

Vehicle interaction (VI)

Some of the ambitions look easier to achieve than others.

For instance, collision avoidance and proximity detection technology has made huge strides in the last decade, with the ICMM arguing its 2025 target is like a “sprint”, compared with the “10,000 m race” that is minimising DPM underground by 2025 and the longer-term aim to introduce GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

“There are regulations that require implementation of collision avoidance and proximity detection technology by the end of 2020 in South Africa,” Bell said. This will undoubtedly provide a catalyst for further developments to speed up.

The ICSV program is also leveraging the work of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) in its development of fundamental functional/performance requirements for operators and technology providers.

These requirements were updated and released by EMESRT in September and are known as ‘PR5A’.

Credit: Hexagon Mining

Bell delved into some detail about these requirements:

“The EMERST requirements are designed around a nine-level system that seeks to eliminate material unwanted scenarios such as – equipment to person, equipment to equipment, equipment to environment and loss of control,” she said.

“The fundamental change with this newly released set of functional requirements by EMESRT is that the mining industry users have defined the functional needs for levels 7-9 (operator awareness, advisory controls, and intervention controls). That stronger level of collaboration hasn’t necessarily been there.”

EMESRT and its guidelines have been given an expanded global platform through the ICMM’s ICSV, with the program, this year, providing the convening environment for users and technology providers to help finalise these updated requirements, according to Bell.

With all of this already in place, one could be forgiven for thinking the majority of the hard work involved with achieving the 2025 goal is done, but the working group focused on VI knows that while OEMs continue to retrofit third-party vehicle collision and avoidance systems to their machines the job is not complete.

“Let’s think about the seatbelt analogy: you don’t give buyers of vehicles a choice as to whether they want a seatbelt in their car; it just comes with the car,” Bell said.

“At the moment, by design, vehicles don’t always have this collision and avoidance systems built in, therefore there is a big opportunity for collaboration between OEMs and third-party technology providers.”

Underground DPM goals

“The DPM working group have recognised that, in the case of the DPM ambition, ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed’,” Bell said.

“Bringing together the OEMs and the mining companies this year through the ICSV program has enabled the group to explore the variety of existing solutions out there today,” she added.

These existing solutions include higher-tier engines, battery-electric equipment, tethered electric machinery, fuel cell-equipped machines for narrow vein mining and solutions to remove DPMs and other emissions from the environment like Johnson Matthey’s CRT system.

And, there are numerous examples from North America – Newmont Goldcorp at Borden, and Glencore and Vale in Sudbury – South America – Codelco at El Teniente Underground – and Europe – Agnico Eagle Mines at Kittilä (Finland, pictured) – to draw from.

Bell also mentioned some examples from Australia where regulatory changes have seen miners apply existing technology and carry out changes in their work plans and maintenance practices to minimise DPM emissions.

Haulage and loading flexibility, battery charging and mine design have all come under the spotlight since these new generation of ‘green’ machines have emerged, so achieving the 2025 goal the ICSV stated is by no means a foregone conclusion.

“There remains more work to do in achieving diesel-free vehicles underground,” Bell said.

The interested parties are aware of this and the program’s DPM maturity framework is helping miners and OEMs plot a course to reaching the target, she explained.

“The DPM maturity framework promotes existing solutions available today that would enable a mining operation to reduce their DPM emissions to a level that would meet the ambition level (shown as Level 4 – transition to zero),” she said.

These frameworks are useful for starting a “change conversation”, Bell said, explaining that mining companies can assess within their organisations where they currently sit on the five-level chart and discuss internally how to move up the levels to meet their goals.

These same frameworks look beyond minimising “the operational impact” of DPM emissions underground, with Bell explaining that Level 5 of the maturity framework involves “non-DPM emitting vehicles”.

GHG-free surface mining vehicles

Even further in the distance is the longer-term target of introducing greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

This ambition, more than any other, is less clearly defined in terms of technological solutions across the industry.

While battery-electric solutions look like having the goods to reach DPM-free status underground with expected developments in battery technology and charging, the jury is still out on if they can create a GHG-free large-scale open-pit mining environment.

The world’s largest battery-electric haul truck – eMining’s 63-t payload eDumper (pictured) – may have proven its worth at a Ciments Vigier-owned quarry in Switzerland, but the world’s largest open-pit mines require a solution on another scale altogether.

As Bell said: “There is a lot of work to do to develop batteries at scale for surface fleet that suit the different operating conditions.

“That’s a key point because that lends itself to the fact that we don’t want one solution; we will need multiple solutions. We don’t want to stifle innovation; we want to encourage it.”

ICMM member Anglo American has hinted that hydrogen power could be one solution, and the miner is looking to show this next year with the development of its hydrogen-powered 300-t payload haul truck.

There has also been in the last 18-24 months a mini renaissance of trolley assist projects that, ABB’s Gunnar Hammarström told IM recently, could, in the future, work in tandem with battery-powered solutions to provide a GHG-free solution.

The ability for industry to pilot and validate technology options like this “within the boundaries of anti-competition” is crucial for its later adoption in the industry, Bell said.

She said a key enabler of industry decarbonisation is access to cost competitive clean electricity, which would indicate that regions like South America and the Nordic countries could be of interest in the short and medium term for deploying pilot projects.

It is this goal where the industry R&D spend could potentially ramp up; something the ICMM and the ICSV is aware of.

“For the OEMs and mining companies to effectively minimise capital expenditure, optimise R&D expenditure and reduce the change management required by the industry, there needs to be a careful balance of encouraging innovation of solutions, whilst managing the number of plausible outcomes,” Bell said.

In terms of encouraging the development of these outcomes, carbon pricing mechanisms could provide some positive industry momentum. Vale recently acknowledged that it would apply an internal carbon tax/price of $50/t when analysing its future projects, so one would expect other companies to be factoring in such charges to their future mine developments.

Industry-wide GHG emission caps could also provide a catalyst. In countries such as Chile – where up to 80% of emissions can come from haul trucks, according to ICMM Senior Programme Officer, Verónica Martinez – carbon emission reduction legislation could really have an impact on technology developments.

Forward motion

While 2019 was a year when the three working groups – made up of close to 50 representatives in each work stream – outlined known barriers or opportunities that might either slow down or accelerate technology developments, 2020 will be the year that regional workshops convened to “encourage first adopters and fast followers” to move these three ambitions forward take place, Bell said.

A knowledge hub containing the previously spoken of maturity frameworks (delivered for all three groups) will allow the wider industry outside of the ICMM membership to gain a better understanding of how the miner-OEM-service provider collaboration is working.

Bell said the ICMM already has a number of members testing these group frameworks on an informal self-assessment basis to understand “how they are being received at an asset level and feedback insights to the group in an effort to understand how we may portray an industry representative picture of where we are today”.

Such strategies bode well for achieving these goals into the future and, potentially, changing the dynamic that has existed between end users and suppliers in the mining sector for decades.

Bell said: “The feedback that we got from OEMs is that mining companies had completely different objectives, but they have now greater confidence that we are aligned on the direction of travel towards the ambitions set.”

Epiroc loaders and drills set for Codelco El Teniente underground copper mine

Epiroc says it has won a “large order” from construction company Züblin International GmbH Chile Spa for equipment to be used for the expansion project at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine in Chile.

Züblin International GmbH Chile, owned by STRABAG Group and the contractor for Codelco, has ordered multiple drill rigs and loaders for use in the El Teniente underground copper mine, with Epiroc’s state-of-the-art equipment ensuring “high productivity and safe operation as the mine will be deepened, extending its lifespan by an estimated 50 years”, Epiroc said.

The order totals around SEK135 million ($14.03 million) and was placed in the June quarter. It includes different models of the Boomer face drilling rig (including the Boomer E2), Simba production drilling rig and Scooptram loader, as well as on-site technical support.

The machines will be equipped with the Epiroc telematics system Certiq, allowing automated and intelligent monitoring of productivity and machine performance. Epiroc said delivery has started and will take place through early 2020.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We are proud to play a vital role as the El Teniente mine is expanded and gets to thrive for many more years in a productive and safe manner.”

Dirk Pförtner, Commercial Managing Director at STRABAG Spa Chile, said Epiroc had been able to put together a comprehensive offer that included not just equipment but also service support and in-depth training.

Codelco El Teniente on its way to fully-automated mining solution, Sandvik says

Sandvik says it will deliver AutoMine® fleet solutions for underground trucks to Codelco’s El Teniente mine in Chile, continuing the copper miner’s “vision of creating the most advanced underground mines in the world”.

This AutoMine Fleet system is the first step in implementing a fully-automated mining solution using Sandvik trucks at El Teniente, the biggest underground copper mine in the world, Sandvik said.

“Codelco’s goal is to dramatically increase the productivity, safety and efficiency of its operations with AutoMine. Together with the existing OptiMine® system, the mine will become a world-class benchmark,” the mining equipment maker said.

This agreement follows the April announcement that Sandvik will deliver its AutoMine and OptiMine solutions to Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine as it converts the site from open pit to an underground mine. This development is part of Codelco’s 10-year strategic project to extend the life of its existing mines.

Rafael Guzman, Chief Engineer for Automation and Technology at El Teniente, said: “As a state-owned mining company, it is our responsibility to implement technology and solutions that ensure the safety of our people and the sustainability of our mines. Being a good corporate citizen is not negotiable. It is critical to our success.”

Sandvik and Codelco started their automation journeys together at El Teniente with the first-ever AutoMine Loading system installation, in 2004.

Patricio Apablaza, Vice President for Andean and South Cone, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “We are proud that Codelco continues to choose Sandvik as a strategic partner for its most innovative projects. Our technology will drive even safer, smarter and more productive mining for Codelco.”

The AutoMine product family allows customers to scale up automation at their own pace, according to Sandvik. The solution covers all aspects of automation, from remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities. AutoMine installations have logged more than 2.5 million hours with zero lost time injuries.

OptiMine, meanwhile, is a suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes. It integrates all relevant data into one source, delivering both real-time and predictive insights to improve operations. “OptiMine is open and scalable, giving customers the flexibility to build at their own speed and incorporate other equipment, systems and networks,” Sandvik said.

Codelco puts its mine electrification efforts into first gear

Codelco says it will trial a Komatsu hybrid LHD at its El Teniente underground copper mine, in Chile, as the company looks to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas it emits from its operations.

The diesel-electric hybrid is likely to increase productivity by 10-20% and cut diesel consumption by at least 25%, Codelco said.

The LHD is just one of a number of pieces of new equipment the company is bringing into the El Teniente operation to reduce its carbon footprint. The others include an RDH-Scharf electric scissor lift (the Liftmaster 600 EB), which comes with operating costs 70% lower than the diesel equivalent; two 100%-electric buses to transport workers from Rancagua to the El Teniente operations (at 3,100 m high); and a 100%-electric bus link for urban use within Rancagua.

“Codelco’s electromobility strategy also contemplates the incorporation of an electric bus for the Chuquicamanta Division for the first half of this year,” Codelco said in a statement translated from Spanish to English. “In addition, El Teniente will add three additional electric buses during the year, a second LHD, this time 100% electric, and an electric mining truck for the interior of the mine.”

Octavio Araneda, a Vice President of Operations for Codelco, said (also in Spanish to English translation): “In the framework of our Sustainability Master Plan, in Codelco we execute a transition program to gradually decarbonise the energy matrix of our operations.

“An edge of this initiative is our strategy of electromobility that, after positively avoiding a pilot experience with light vehicles last year, today celebrates this new milestone with unprecedented production teams. ”

On the Komatsu hybrid LHD, Codelco said the electric drive machine has no gearbox or filters and uses diesel only for the generation of “motive power”.

“It will be used industrially for the first time in Codelco El Teniente to start marketing it to the rest of the industry internationally,” Codelco said.

Komatsu has, so far, released details on an 18 t hybrid LHD (the Joy 18HD) and a 22 t hybrid model (Joy 22HD). Last year, Byrnecut Australia said it was to trial a Joy 22HD at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in Australia in the June quarter of 2018, as it looked to test production efficiencies, diesel savings and overall costs associated with this equipment.

Codelco is hoping use of this hybrid LHD will bring down operating costs by 30%, increase the reliability and availability of LHDs by 10-20% – due to less engine hours, longer life and easier replacement of components – and reduce emissions and heat released by over 25%.

The company is after an even bigger boost in scissor lift use, expecting reliability and availability of the new machine to go up 20-30%, while the energy expenditure of the electric scissor platform is expected to be just 75-149 kW. Noise reduction is estimated at 70% compared with the diesel version, while the heat released is expected to drop 80-90% when compared with the diesel version.

The XMQ6130 eTech electric buses transferring workers from Rancagua to El Teniente have been manufactured by King Long in China and can hold 44 passengers, while the urban electric buses, also built by King Long, are the model XMQ6127e for up to 87 passengers.

Sandvik to automate and digitalise Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine

Sandvik says it will automate and digitalise Codelco’s underground copper operation at Chuquicamata, in Chile, creating one of the “most efficient and advanced underground mines in the world”.

Sandvik’s AutoMine® and OptiMine® solutions will allow Codelco to operate its new fleet of Sandvik LH621 loaders in fully autonomous mode, the mining equipment maker said.

Codelco is converting Chuquicamata from an open pit to underground mine as part of a 10-year strategic project to prolong its existing operations. It is due to start up in 2019.

Sandvik said: “The open system integrates manual operations and autonomous equipment into one powerful solution with AutoMine and OptiMine, enabling full transparency and real-time control over the parallel production and mine development activities.”

Andrés Avendaño, Operations Manager, Chuquicamata Underground, said: “Using our mines to full effect is part of our focus on sustainability and a key driver for our business. Automation and optimisation are critical to getting the most from our mines and keeping our people safe while we do it.”

Sandvik and Codelco started their automation journeys together with the first-ever AutoMine loading system installation at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine, in 2004, Sandvik said.

Riku Pulli, Vice President, Automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Codelco has been an important partner for us from the beginning. It’s fantastic to continue the partnership as our visions are well aligned. We look forward to working with Codelco to deliver even smarter, safer, more productive mining through digitalisation.”

Codelco is the number one copper producer in the world and is owned by the Chile government. It controls about 19% of the world’s copper reserves and is also the second producer of molybdenum worldwide, with 24,000 t produced in 2018.

Sandvik’s digital solutions, including AutoMine, OptiMine and “My Sandvik” are working in hundreds of mines around the world.

The AutoMine product family allows customers to scale up automation at their own pace, covering all aspects of automation, from remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities. AutoMine installations have logged more than 2.5 million hours with zero lost time injuries, according to the company.

OptiMine, meanwhile, is a suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes. It integrates all relevant data into one source, delivering both real-time and predictive insights to improve operations, Sandvik said. OptiMine is open and scalable, giving customers the flexibility to build at their own speed and incorporate other equipment, systems and networks.

Codelco looks to Uptake’s AI solution for equipment maintenance gains

Uptake says it and the world’s largest copper producer, Codelco, are working on an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to monitor the health of mining equipment and ensure operations run efficiently and maintenance needs are predicted.

The agreement, part of Codelco’s digital transformation plan, includes mining and processing equipment at Codelco’s Division Ministro Hales (DMH) mine in Calama, Chile. In addition, Uptake will monitor grinding mills, roasters, crushers, pumps, haul trucks, and other machines with a view to creating a comprehensive and enterprise-wide Asset Performance Management solution across all of the company’s operating mines.

In 2017, the company’s DMH mine produced 215,086 t of copper alongside more than 126 t of silver.

Jaime Rivera, Codelco General Manager of the Andina Division, said: “Deploying artificial intelligence will allow Codelco to make best use of our operational data and allow us to reach our goals of boosting mining productivity, reduce costs and maintain safe machine operations through the predictive capabilities of Uptake’s Asset Performance Management (APM) software.”

Jay Allardyce, Uptake Executive Vice President of Industry, Product and Partnerships, said: “Codelco is the world’s leader in copper production and we’re pleased to support their digital efforts to make operations and maintenance expenditures more efficient by increasing visibility into the real-time and future health of mining machines.

“We are excited to partner with Codelco given their forward thinking to accelerate not only their operations, but the industry. With their data first approach coupled with our AI leadership, the transformation impact is outstanding and with leaders like Codelco it sets the tone for what is possible.”

Uptake’s APM software solution improves operational efficiency by leveraging AI to create business value from operational data, according to Uptake.

“Traditional asset management only covers routine maintenance tasks and fails to anticipate and adjust to the ways industry operates its business,” Uptake said. “Today’s asset-intensive environments require a new approach with industrial data science generating OEM (original equipment manufacturer)-agnostic insights, predictions and recommendations for any asset.”

By deploying Uptake APM, industry can unlock new operational efficiencies by making proactive maintenance decisions based on predictive insights, the company said. “Our industrial AI and machine-learning engines detect asset anomalies and help predict and prevent problems before they happen. Industry can also leverage the data analytics to understand how to drive more financial outcomes that impact business.”

Codelco terminates SNC-Lavalin contract at Chuquicamata

Codelco has terminated its contract with SNC-Lavalin following a dispute related to a copper project the engineering firm was working on for the mining company.

SNC-Lavalin, which confirmed the news in a press statement, said Codelco had also initiated a drawdown on its approximately $42 million in bank guarantees.

News of a problem with one of SNC-Lavalin’s mining and metallurgy contracts came to light earlier this year, when the Canada-based company said an unfavourable cost reforecast related to a project would affect its 2018 financial results.

The two parties were unable to agree on a way forward for the project and, following further discussions, agreed to settle the dispute through an accelerated arbitration process. SNC-Lavalin said at the time that it expected to make significant recoveries in the future, but it would in the meantime continue to work on the project, which it expected to complete by the end of the June quarter.

Codelco said the $260 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the building of two new acid plants at the Chuquicamata smelter, in Chile, had been terminated due to a serious breach in the contract milestones.

“Among the non-compliances, are the delay in payments to its subcontractors, delays in the execution of the project and problems in the quality of the works, among others,” Codelco said in a news release translated from Spanish.

SNC-Lavalin, which earlier this year stopped bidding on all future mining EPC projects, said it was “appalled and surprised” by the decision taken by Codelco.

“We had reached an agreement in good faith on February 1, 2019, regarding the full completion of the project and a process for a fast track dispute resolution of previously announced unresolved issues through accelerated arbitration.”

The company said as it was nearing the end of the project completion, Codelco’s actions would put the completion and commissioning date further at risk.

“We believe that this termination is unwarranted and in breach of good faith agreements reached by the parties. It should be noted that Codelco has reached this decision after SNC-Lavalin openly informed Codelco of the status of the execution of the works, as requested by Codelco, which showed delays caused by site conditions that were the responsibility of Codelco, and the poor and unjustified acts by the main construction subcontractors,” SNC-Lavalin said.

SNC-Lavalin said it was now demobilising the job site and assessing the legal and financial impact of Codelco’s decision and preparing the dispute resolution actions to “recover as much as possible of the previously announced losses that are due directly to our client and to poor sub-contractor performance”.

Antofagasta backing ‘digital transformation’ of operations

Antofagasta, in its 2018 financial results, has promoted its innovation focus, saying it is critical to creating long-term value and being “a key enabler of safe, sustainable competitiveness and growth”.

One of the ways the company is seeking innovative solutions is through the increased use of data and technology, which it calls “the digitalisation of operations”.

Antofagasta said it is investing significantly in this area, which has an implementation budget of $40 million, to strengthen its technological platform, including critical operating systems and connectivity.

The company has also applied advanced data analytics at its processing plants to better understand and improve their performance.

In the meantime, it said work was underway on the design of a Remote Centre that will allow integrated operations management at its Centinela operation in Chile. Service provider Wood is currently preparing a prefeasibility study for this technologically-advanced integrated operations centre, which includes cloud data storage and information management for its operations, easily accessible from anywhere in the world.

Antofagasta continued: “It’s not just at the operating level that there are benefits of improved data.

“Los Pelambres constantly monitors its tailings deposits and, as part of the Programa Tranque project, expects to start releasing the monitoring results online early next year. This will provide the community with real time information, helping to build trust between ourselves and our neighbours,” the company said.

Programa Tranque contemplates the development of an online monitoring system of tailing deposits to transmit, process and broadcast, in a user-friendly way, updated physical and chemical indicators of the deposits.

It incorporates the best available technologies and innovative mechanisms for the measurement of critical parameters and variables, as well as an information management platform to communicate information to authorities, mining companies, and the community, allowing an early warning system to be activated ahead of potential emergency situations.

In addition to Antofagasta, BHP and Codelco are partnering on this five-year programme that seeks to position Chile as the leading country in information transparency related to the performance of its tailing deposits.

FLSmidth’s Lindholm says miner investment in remote operations centre paying off

In a wide-ranging talk on digitisation at the 2019 SME Annual Conference & Expo in Denver, Colorado, Mikael Lindholm, Chief Digital Officer of FLSmidth, said the use of remote operations centres was providing returns to those mining companies employing them.

Lindholm said FLSmidth had seen an influx of remote operations centres “popping up” across the industry, he told delegates during his keynote presentation.

“It is unhealthy to go up in the mountains or in the pits in the mines,” he said. “Being in a city is much safer. The less people you have in the mine, the less injuries you will see.”

He added: “Most mines, today, have a central control unit, but we now see to a greater extent remote control centres outside of the mines.”

Referencing a recent visit to Codelco and its remote operations centre in Santiago, Lindholm said the state-owned copper miner was running two operations remotely from this location.

The centre had allowed Codelco to attract personnel in the Chile capital, in addition to being able to coordinate all activities from one location, he said.

“From there, they manage everything happening in the pit, to the process plant to the logistics,” he said.

By coordinating these activities and having all the people in the same room, Codelco is making significant savings, Lindholm said. “They are making savings of around $50 million annually from this – purely from coordinating activities.”

This evolution is part of a wider move in the industry to improve productivity, maintenance and safety.

Lindholm, quoting statistics from McKinsey, said by 2025, there will be yearly savings of around $250 billion around operations management – “to do with process optimisation and coordination” – $100 billion/y on equipment maintenance – “thanks to condition monitoring, predictive and prescriptive maintenance” – and $10 billon/y on safety.