Tag Archives: ControlMaster

Evolution enlists RCT and its Guidance Automation tech to transform Red Lake gold mine

Evolution Mining has selected RCT and its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation technology to help “transform” its new Red Lake mine in Ontario, Canada.

Evolution has embarked on a three-year investment strategy to restore the newly acquired Red Lake mine to a safe, highly efficient, long life and low-cost operation providing strong value for shareholders. This followed its acquisition of the operation from Newmont in November 2019 in a deal that could eventually rise to $475 million.

RCT has previously worked with Evolution Mining on transitioning its Mungari operations in Western Australia’s Goldfields region to its fully-autonomous technology solution.

To assist in the Red Lake turnaround strategy, RCT will commission its interoperable and scalable ControlMaster Guidance Automation technology to the underground loader fleet.

RCT says it is working closely with Red Lake’s leadership team to seamlessly integrate the new technology to enable greater productivity efficiencies to support Evolution Mining’s transformation strategy.

“The technology will unlock significant value for Evolution Mining by ensuring optimal machine performance, higher speed autonomous tramming, and reduced machine damage,” RCT said. “The technology will deliver faster production cycle times and reduced unplanned downtime across the loader fleet.”

The loaders will be controlled from either the surface-based ControlMaster Automation Centre or the customised underground Automation Centres designed specifically for easier transfer via the mine shaft hoist system.

This solution safeguards machine operators by relocating them away from hazards commonly found at the mine face and significantly reduces shift handover times, lowering overhead costs and resulting in greater site efficiencies, RCT said.

Kirsty Liddicoat, Red Lake General Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with RCT to introduce modern technologies to Red Lake as part of our transformation process. RCT equipment will enable higher productivity and efficiencies from our underground scoop fleet, while improving safety for our people.”

RCT’s Mining Business Development Manager, Ryan Noden, said ControlMaster is an ideal solution to help deliver the operational transformation that is aligned to Evolution Mining’s Red Lake strategy.

“The advanced features of the ControlMaster Automation technology means Red Lake will be able to quickly achieve improved production efficiencies from its loader fleet, with a greater level of safety for its operators,” he said. “Red Lake will also benefit from selecting a truly interoperable technology provider that can collaborate closely with them to realise further mobile equipment automation opportunities as further optimisation of the asset is achieved.”

Noden added: “RCT has a proud history of delivering value to the Canadian mining sector and we look forward to continually delivering to them with our cutting-edge technology backed by our dedicated in-country support team based at the company’s facility in Sudbury, Ontario.”

Evolution’s vision is to restore Red Lake to be one of Canada’s premier gold mines sustainably producing 300,000-500,000 oz/y of low-cost gold, Jake Klein, Evolution’s Executive Chairman, has said.

RCT, Borusan Makina deliver ControlMaster solution at Kazakhstan gold mine

A major gold mining company in the Kazakhstan has turned to RCT’s state-of-the-art technology to improve safety and productivity on site by operating a Cat D10T dozer by line of sight control.

RCT worked with its local technology partner Borusan Makina Kazakhstan to commission the ControlMaster® Line of Sight solution, providing the technical support remotely to Borusan technicians who implemented the technology package for Altyntau Kokshetau LLP at the Kokshetau mine in the Vasilkovskoye gold ore field.

Unlike most original equipment manufacturer packages, the ControlMaster solution does not require specialist engineering work on-site and has a history of integrating quickly with any type of machine, RCT says.

Going forward, site personnel will use the technology package and direct the dozer to work in hazardous locations under high walls and near ledges.

In the event of a rock fall, the machine operator will be located in a safe vantage point and not in proximity to the dozer.

RCT Business Development Manager – CIS, Stephen Macarow, said: “The mine site knows RCT is a trusted and reliable supplier and can provide proven technology solutions for their particular needs. Our technology is simple to install and use on any type of machine and we have empowered the mine site with the information they need to work independently.

“We empowered Borusan’s local technicians with real-time international technical support as well as translated documentation, which, when combined, ensured a smooth installation and commissioning process. Going forward, Borusan technicians will provide local support to the mine site and will be backed up by RCT’s international customer service team.”

Macarow added: “We have worked with mining companies in the CIS region for more than 20 years and this project is just the latest success story in a long line of projects.”

RCT provided a comprehensive webinar-based training package run by one of its qualified trainers who had particular experience using ControlMaster on a mine site. The trainer conducted theory-based teaching in a classroom as well as practical hands-on demonstrations and, through a VPN network, carried out testing and diagnostics on the dozer on-site.

RCT teleremote tech to improve dozer operator safety at PNG gold mine

RCT says it has completed a project to commission its ControlMaster® technology on dozers at a major gold mining operation in Papua New Guinea.

The Australia-based automation specialist has installed and commissioned its ControlMaster Line-of-Sight solution on two Komatsu D275 dozers at the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine.

The technology packages will enable the mine operator to clear landslip in the mine’s central pit, RCT said.

Going forward, the site’s machine operators can stand at a safe distance and direct the dozers to operate beneath the pit’s highwall.

RCT Account Manager, Wayne Carrington, said the solution is an integral part of safe mine operations.

“Mine management are pleased that they can undertake necessary activities within the central pit while ensuring dozer operators are safe,” he said.

RCT says it will provide training to machine operators and ongoing after sales support as required.

RCT pushes dozer operators in a new direction at Pilbara iron ore mine site

RCT says it has completed its latest automation and control project for a major mining company at one of its iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The autonomous solutions specialist supplied and commissioned its ControlMaster® Line of Sight solution on one Caterpillar D10T2 dozer and one Cat D11T dozer and the associated remote control devices for operators.

Site operators can now stand at a safe location overlooking the production area and direct the dozers to push the site’s coarse ore stockpiles and other required activities, RCT said.

RCT Account Manager, Phill Dean, said the technology will protect site personnel while ensuring effective production.

“This project is part of a long-standing relationship delivering leading-edge technology to the major iron ore producer to ensure smooth day-to-day and ad-hoc business activities,” he said.

“The ControlMaster technology integrated seamlessly into both dozer’s operating systems enabling the operators to access the machine’s full range of functionality available by the OEM.”

RCT will provide ongoing after sales support, scheduled servicing and onsite technical assistance as required, it said.

RCT to provide online training for ControlMaster, SmarTrack solutions

RCT, like many other METS companies seeking to connect with miners despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, is bringing its training online.

Its Product Skills training can now be delivered anywhere, anytime thanks to the launch of its online training this week, RCT said.

RCT decided to make the numerous courses available online to upskill workers based in remote mine sites around the world, it said.

“This was deemed even more important due to the current global situation with the COVID-19 pandemic,” RCT’s Product Training Co-ordinator, Sunil Kumar, said.

“We live in a world where everyone wants easy, quick and convenient access to services and the technology is so readily accessible via hand held devices and laptops,” he said.

RCT’s training has expanded to encompass webinar and online training, in addition to the face-to-face training the company has always delivered at various RCT branches around the world or on site.

Participants can now choose to partake in webinar training, where they access the training via their computer and complete it in a virtual classroom. This option allows people to communicate directly with the trainer, ask questions, and interact where needed for the duration of the course.

In addition to webinar-based training, RCT also offers a self-learning option, which offers flexible learning. The courses can be completed anytime, anywhere, as it is all fully online via RCT’s online training portal.

There are numerous courses available ranging from operator and maintenance training for those using RCT’s ControlMaster® automation solutions and industrial Fleet Management solution, SmarTrack® Global.

RCT collaborates with Russian Cat dealer on rockbreaker project

RCT says it has completed a tele-remote project for Russian Caterpillar dealer Vostochnaya Technica (VT) on a fixed position rockbreaker in Siberia.

The pilot project involved commissioning ControlMaster® Teleremote on a fixed position BTI rockbreaker for a large Russia-based mining company at one of its operations in Siberia.

RCT also provided a Digital Vision Kit consisting of two fixed cameras and audio capability and a Fibre Optic Control Station (FOCS) located in site offices on the mine’s surface, it said.

RCT’s Moscow-based CIS Business Development Manager, Stephen Macarow, said the tele-remote rockbreaker was the latest RCT project to be completed at mines in the region.

“RCT was selected to carry out this project due to its experience in integrating automation technology in mining equipment of all makes and models,” he said.

“Operating the rockbreaker from the mine’s surface will safeguard machine operators while also giving them the chance to better utilise the machine’s capabilities.”

As well as installing its Teleremote technology on the rockbreaker, RCT’s bespoke solutions division custom tailored the tele-remote package to the mining company’s specific requirement, RCT said.

“RCT developed a unique auto-stow function at the request of VT and the mining company,” Macarow explained. This function means operators can push a button and retract the rockbreaker arm from the grizzly or steel grate over the ore pass and bring the machine to a parked position.

VT Technology Enabled Solutions Manager, Alexander Voroshilov, said the rockbreaker project was of significant benefit to the customer.

“In order to complete this turnkey project, the VT Technology team has done a big amount of work from equipment delivery from Australia to the mine site, customs clearance, manuals translation and certification, to on-site installation and commissioning under supervision of an RCT engineer,” he said.

“The key factor of the project success is the customer support and good collaboration with a partner, so we really appreciate our partnership with RCT and the customer assistance.”

RCT says it is continuing to provide ongoing technical and after-sales support to the mine site

Tailings, waste management automation solutions up next for RCT in South America

Having made a name for itself in South America innovating on projects for Codelco, Antofagasta Minerals, Anglo American, BHP, and many others, RCT says it is now delivering solutions for miners in the region in tailings and waste management situations.

The Australia-based company is working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster® range of automation and control solutions, it said.

RCT’s experience in South America dates back two decades.

It all began with the company’s foundation solution, Muirhead® protection systems. These were requested by a client wanting to get more longevity from their bulldozers and loaders which were machine re-builds, according to the company.

Since this initial project, the company has helped deliver fit-for-purpose solutions, encompassing all its brands, to big name clients.

“The South American mining region, in general, is well-known for its copper and gold mines, all of which are located in areas exposed to extreme weather conditions (the heat and the cold) in addition to some being positioned in high altitude locations, making for some precarious working conditions for miners,” RCT said.

“Therefore, RCT’s premier automation and control solutions – ControlMaster have and continue to be in demand in both surface and underground mining operations in the region. While RCT’s Line-of-Sight and Teleremote options dominate the surface mining market, the full automation range is in strong demand for underground mining operations.”

This journey for these solutions began in the early 2000s after RCT completed an audit for ControlMaster Line-of-Sight controllers at BHP’s Escondida mine, in Chile. The company wanted a proven solution to safeguard bulldozer operators manning the run of mine pad feeders and crushers. RCT was able to retrofit the mobile machines with the technology that removed the operators from the cab of the machine and allowed them to operate it from a safe location – ultimately solving the issue for the client, the company said.

By 2008, RCT collaborated with Hexagon Mining to engineer and deliver a bespoke solution to Codelco’s Andina mine that allowed the miner to operate safer and for longer in the lead up to the winter shut down, reducing the number of days they had to stop work. This R&D project saw the delivery of a ControlMaster Teleremote solution, paired with a Muirhead Speed Limiter and combined with Hexagon Mining’s MineOps Geofencing systems installed on a Komatsu WD600 wheel dozer.

It was RCT’s project at Codelco’s El Teniente in 2018 that cemented its reputation in the region, the company says.

RCT’s ControlMaster Automation solution helped El Teniente successfully and safely mine ore-rich mud in what, it says, is believed to be a world-first mining method in these conditions. This feat was facilitated by RCT’s specialised department, RCT Custom, which delivered the bespoke solution to minimise the risk involved in mining in these conditions.

This project required RCT to retrofit its ControlMaster solutions that were previously installed on Codelco’s mobile machines operating at its Andina surface mine site before integrating the refurbished equipment, installing them on working production loaders (Sandvik LH517s) into the existing mine network.

“The solution removed the operator from the cab of the loader and allowed them to control the machine from the comfort and safety of an Automation Station located in an underground control room of the mine,” RCT said. “RCT’s solution allowed El Teniente to recover mud ore reserves that were previously deemed too dangerous to access due to the mud flow into these areas. In addition to this, the loaders were able to tram faster, avoid walls and obstacles after being automated, which significantly increased productivity and reduced machined damage and unplanned downtime.”

RCT’s Commercial Executive, Phil Goode, said it was this project that earned RCT a strong technical reputation.

This project was also monumental for the company as it further reiterated the need for RCT to have more of a local presence and compelled the company to open an office in Santiago, Chile, last year. The team, comprised of five multilingual staff, are working hard to support our existing and new clients in the region.

“Having a team working locally helps RCT to better function in Chile and other South American, Spanish speaking countries,” Goode said. “Technically we have always been very good, but the office allows us to understand the business culture and provide that next level of support to our clients.

“Most importantly, it allows us to provide the first rate level of customer service and after sales support we have built a solid reputation on delivering to all of our clients around the world.”

Currently RCT’s solutions are being delivered in tailings and waste management situations with the company working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster range of solutions, RCT said.

Gold Fields looks for South Deep productivity boost with teleremote loading project

As part of plans to establish a sustainable footing for its South Deep mine in South Africa, Gold Fields is trialling teleremote loading in a project with automation specialist RCT.

Gold Fields’ problems at South Deep have been well documented, with the company, in 2018, launching a restructuring plan involving the reduction of mining areas, the lowering of overhead costs and an aim to use fewer machines more productively. This followed significant amounts of investment and continued underperformance at the mine.

It is the latter productivity goal that has led the company down the teleremote loading path.

In the June quarter of 2019, Gold Fields commenced non-line of site remote loading training at South Deep. Phase one of the project was to locate the operator control station in close proximity to the underground loading site, according to the company.

Martin Preece, Executive Vice-President Gold Fields South Africa, said soon after this training started, operators suggested an almost immediate move to “Phase 2” with an operator control station located in a recently built surface control centre in the main building at South Deep.

A surface automation chair was ordered from RCT, installed and commissioned in the centre and the company started the process of training up operators.

RCT’s ControlMaster® Automation and Control solutions enable companies to automate a single machine, to a fully autonomous fleet, while also offering step changes with teleremote solutions that allow operators to take control of machines from control centres, trailer cabins or mobile stations.

The interoperability of these systems allows for the seamless integration into any mine’s ecosystem, according to RCT.

Preece said Gold Fields’ approach with all technology is to trial with limited application, to develop and prove the technology, followed by rapid roll out.

“We are still in the first phase of the project and are learning and adapting our approach as we progress to perfect the system before broader application,” he said.

This first phase already has the company using one Sandvik LH514 LHD for teleremote loading operations in the long-hole stope loading areas of South Deep during shift changes. As Preece explained, the RCT technology allows for the LHD to tram between loading and dumping locations, and back autonomously with operator intervention only required when loading and tipping the LHD.

RCT has provided the on-board sensor technology, the network infrastructure in the working areas, the safety application and the surface operating chair – the Operation Automation Centre – located in the surface control centre, he said.

The control centre (pictured, left) was designed and established by South Deep and hosts the teleremote LHD operator automation centre, a teleremote rock breaker station, the operations control room, maintenance and production scheduling as well as business reporting functions.

This teleremote loading technology is, essentially, adding loaded tonnes to the operation where there previously was none, coming close to ticking off the ‘use of fewer machines more productively’ criteria Gold Fields previously set out in its turnaround plan. While not explicitly stated by the company, one would expect it helped South Deep achieve a 36% year-on-year boost in long hole stoping volumes mined, to 631,000 t, in 2019. Overall, Gold Fields said the mine produced 222,000 oz of attributable gold last year.

Teleremote rollout?

Preece said the technology it is trialling has been de-risked in the respect that it has been proven in many applications globally, and the company had very clear safety and commercial imperatives for it.

“The success of any change intervention is to ensure that the application becomes an enabler rather than a distraction for our frontline teams,” he said.

“We would like to believe we are close to operational deployment. Most of the initial challenges experienced with the technology itself have been addressed; the underground mining team is taking ownership by addressing the operating conditions. Furthermore, a second round of operator and maintenance training has been conducted.”

While the trial is currently limited to long-hole stope loading in between shift changes, in time, teleremote loading in development and destress areas of the mine could also be possible, Preece said. With plans to equip more machines in 2020, the results could get even better.

“The project business case is based on being able to continue loading over shift changes, so there is further upside when we add in the in-shift productivity gains as well as improvements to the development and destress mining cycles,” he said. “Our approach to expanding the rollout is that it must be self-funding – the value generated by the first deployment must fund the rollout of subsequent deployments.”

The company’s ultimate goal is to be able to operate LHDs continuously for 22 hours a day (the limit the machine can safely operate between refuelling, safety inspections and pre-start inspections, according to Preece), but there is more to achieving this aim than just rolling out teleremote LHDs.

“A pre-requisite for loading during shift changes is to be able to break big rocks in the tipping bins,” Preece said. This is where the successful deployment of teleremote rock breaking, operated from the same surface control centre as the remote LHDs, comes in.

Then there are the interactions with other equipment and, most importantly, people to consider.

“When operating the teleremote machine, the whole area has to be barricaded, isolated and protected by laser barriers, which, if breached, force the machine to stop automatically,” he said. “This will limit the application to areas which we can isolate.”

In areas where personnel are required to perform drilling, supporting, backfilling and other activities, the area cannot be completely isolated and the LHD cannot function optimally, according to Preece.

This might not be the case indefinitely.

“South Deep is exploring opportunities to schedule activities separately to enable broader application,” Preece said.

Similar technology deployed for trucks would be another future area of focus, according to Preece, while he said the mine was also in the early stages of trialling automated long-hole drilling in stopes over shift changes.

South Deep is one of the deepest mines in the world, going to depths close to 3,000 m below surface. Even so, depth is not one of the main business drivers for the increased take up of teleremote operations, according to Preece.

“Safety benefits and the time a machine can effectively be utilised make up for the bulk of the return on investment,” he said. “The challenge with deeper mines are on the support side; if the network infrastructure is in place, it should be the same for shallow or deep mines. For deeper mines, it will take longer to get maintenance and instrumentation support to the machine if something goes wrong.”

Still, could full automation be on the cards?

“Yes! Loading activity remains the most challenging given the variable fragmentation of material,” Preece said. “Operators still need to perform the loading and tipping activities.”

These teleremote and automation projects, on top of personnel and mobile equipment tracking systems previously mentioned in the company’s 2019 annual report, bode well for future automation take up at South Deep, as well as the success of Gold Fields’ turnaround plan for the asset.

RCT OEM-agnostic teleremote solution favoured at Kazzinc UG mine

RCT says its ControlMaster® Teleremote solution has bested a competitive offering from a global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on a project for an underground mine in Kazakhstan.

The company said ControlMaster was selected over the OEM’s technology option as it could be tailored to the Tishinsky mine’s specific requirements.

RCT worked with local Cat dealer Borusan Kazakhstan to install and commission the automation technology on two Cat R1700G underground loaders and associated Automation Centres located within the underground mine.

The ControlMaster Teleremote solution is now being used at the Tishinsky copper mine, in north-eastern Kazakhstan, part of the Ridder underground complex, owned by Kazzinc (majority owned by Glencore).

Going forward, RCT says it will manufacture the teleremote technology for an additional 12 Cat R1700G and Cat R1300G underground loaders, while Borusan Kazakhstan will install this equipment at the Tishinsky and Dolinnoye (also part of Ridder) mines.

“The teleremote solution enables machine operators to control the machine from a secure station in the underground mine with the help of strategically placed cameras and sensors,” RCT said. “Teleremote technology enables machine operators to access the machine’s full range of functions that they would normally have if they were sitting in the machine’s cab.”

The company has also supplied its new digital communications network, RCT Connect, and integrated it with the underground loaders.

RCT Connect, launched earlier this year, is designed specifically for autonomous and teleremote machine operations in underground mining environments and can provide low latency, consistent communications between command inputs from the mine’s surface and subsequent machine activities, according to RCT.

RCT’s Moscow-based Business Development Manager – CIS, Stephen Macarow, said he is pleased to have completed the project in partnership with Borusan Kazakhstan.

“Our teleremote solution means the operators will control the loaders from inside the Automation Centre and they will be protected from the hazardous conditions often found at the mine face including geotechnical risks, dust, exhaust fumes and temperatures as low as -27⁰C,” he said.

“The mining company will also experience improved site productivity through reduced shift handover times and less unplanned maintenance downtime from machine operator errors.”

He added: “RCT has been supplying proven technological solutions to the mining industry in Kazakhstan and the broader CIS region for over 25 years and we look forward to providing more autonomous solutions in the future.”

A spokesperson for Borusan Kazakhstan said the company has been working with RCT since 2008 and in that time has delivered multiple automation projects for the Kazakhstan mining industry, including at the Tishinsky mine.

“Borusan Kazakhstan has been actively watching the regional mining market, and in cooperation with RCT has developed teleremote technology that is suitable for the CIS market,” the spokesperson said.

“In collaboration with RCT, Borusan Kazakhstan currently provides remote control and teleremote solution implementation, standard and adapted-for-the-customer equipment delivery, maintenance services and employee technology training.”

RCT brings ControlMaster automation tech to SEMAFO-owned Siou underground mine

OEM-agnostic autonomous solutions specialist RCT says it has executed a project with Perenti-owned African Underground Mining Services (AUMS) at the Siou underground gold mine, in Burkina Faso.

Earlier this year, RCT commissioned its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation technology on two of Siou’s Caterpillar R2900G underground LHDs and supplied two associated Automation Centres.

Siou, owned by SEMAFO, is a gold deposit some 20 km from the Mana mine. Conversion of Siou open pit into underground mining operations began in the September quarter of 2018 with full underground production expected shortly, according to SEMAFO.

Guidance Automation enables the loaders to operate with minimal intervention by machine operators located in the Automation Centres, either on the surface of the mine or in a secure location in the underground mine, RCT said.

“The automation solution improves safety onsite by relocating mine personnel away from the mine face and reducing unplanned maintenance downtime by eliminating machine operator errors,” RCT said.

RCT says its Africa-based staff has provided comprehensive training to machine operators and will continue to provide ongoing after-sales support to AUMS.