Tag Archives: ControlMaster

RCT turns Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine into ‘digitally connected powerhouse’

RCT’s latest partnership with Gold Fields in Australia has seen, it says, the transformation of the Granny Smith mine and machine fleet into a state-of-the-art, digitally connected powerhouse.

The project, which RCT says embodies the mining company’s key value of innovation, is designed to increase productivity.

Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine is no stranger to RCT, having been one of its technology partners for more than 20 years.

This latest project has seen the Eastern Goldfields underground gold operation become one of the most innovative, digitally-connected mines in the world, according to RCT. The project saw its Kalgoorlie-based team of innovative technicians upgrade the site’s six existing Caterpillar loaders from analogue to digital.

This required the Kalgoorlie branch team to design and build specialised mounts and overhaul the site’s existing cabins. In addition, a total of 11 Area Access Controls (AAC) were also converted from analogue to digital to facilitate the upgrade.

“We recognise that they made a significant investment into the original technology, and we wanted to find the most cost-effective and sustainable solution available,” RCT’s Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said.

The team converted three of the site’s existing analogue TeleCabins and transformed them into digital ControlMaster® Automation Centres for underground use and two surface Automation Centres to digital, bringing them into the future.

The site chose to use RCT’s own full-scale digital communications solution – RCT Connect – to meet the demands of autonomous machines across the mine site. The technology will cater to Granny Smith’s current and future machines, according to RCT.

The Kalgoorlie branch finished the upgrades in December last year, and although the technology has only been in place for a few months, the site has experienced amazing results from day one, according to the company.

Granny Smith Mine Manager, Michael Place, said: “The ability for the operators to mine from the surface with a pristine picture/video thanks to the digital network has meant they have been able to increase the number of buckets per shift, while adding to the comfort of the operators.

“Implementing the new digital infrastructure RCT Connect has significantly improved both the availability and reliability of Granny Smith’s semi-autonomous remote production loaders and stoping fronts to date.”

The upgrade saw the popular analogue technology that uses the Yagi antenna replaced with RCT Connect.

Radcliffe added: “While the Yagi’s have been a tried and tested technology for many years, our digital RCT Connect Access Points has taken the Control Master underground communications system to another level. The system is now more reliable and provides a clearer picture and improved operator visibility.

“The feedback we have received from site is that the operators love the new technology and they wished they implemented it ages ago.”

As well as experiencing the significant benefits of digital technology today, Granny Smith is futureproofing its operations, allowing it to make small, incremental changes as and when they are ready, RCT said.

RCT Connect, RCT says, is a plug-and-play system, making it easy to install and maintain. The technology has produced a clearer picture, which has greatly assisted Granny Smith personnel to continue operating their machines safely in high-risk locations.

Radcliffe concluded: “Another added benefit to moving to digital is that RCT can now remotely support our clients to a higher level and are able to monitor and complete repairs in a short timeframe, as it eliminates the need for a technician to travel to site to troubleshoot in many cases.”

RCT automates underground loading cycle at Victoria gold mine

Thanks to the deployment of RCT’s market-leading digital automation technology, a prominent gold mine in Victoria, Australia, has been able to achieve major productivity improvements on site, according to the technology company.

This transformation has resulted in an upgrade to the site’s mobile equipment fleet capabilities, enabling fully autonomous production loader cycles as well as providing a pathway for future operational improvements, RCT says.

RCT’s latest ControlMaster® technology empowers site personnel to control the entire fleet from Automation Centres located on the mine’s surface and allows for rapid cross-shift changes, according to the company. With RCT’s digital automation offer, machine operators can supervise seven Cat R2900 underground production loaders from the surface, which significantly improves operations.

The ControlMaster Multiple Machine Control (MMC) feature means an operator can switch between production loaders during auto tramming and supervise specific elements in the load-haul-dump cycle.

RCT Account Manager, Wayne Carrington, said the team is pleased with the outcomes of this significant package of work on site.

“The project represents the next chapter in a longstanding relationship between the companies with the gold mine having used ControlMaster across fleet operations for many years now,” he said. “Our new digital offer will set the site on a pathway to advancing their entire operations and realising strong and consistent productivity gains over the life of the mine.

“With operators now relocated to the mine’s surface, the technology is demonstrating a new standard of safety for mining personnel.”

Carrington concluded: “Our technical team have supported the site throughout this transition and we will be here to support site personnel with any future needs as well.”

RCT and Rham collaborate on ‘world-first’ automated battery-electric loader deployment

In what is believed to be a world-first, RCT, together with equipment manufacturer Rham Equipment, has deployed a fully autonomous battery-electric Rham loader into the African mining sector.

This technological feat saw RCT work with Rham to specifically engineer the automated loader to effortlessly work in height-restricted drives in a South African platinum mining operation.

RCT’s market-leading ControlMaster® automation technology was integrated with the Rham ultra-low profile (ULP) 25HD battery-electric loader with the package installed at Rham’s factory, prior to the loader’s deployment to the site.

This project showcases ControlMaster as a proven interoperable automation platform that can be integrated across any mobile equipment make, type or model, RCT said.

With the technology established on site, the loader operators are able to manage LHD operations from the safety of a ControlMaster Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.

In addition to this, RCT interfaced with the Rham dash display and replicated it on the Automation Centre, to provide the operator with important machine health information.

The project also includes the implementation of RCT Connect, a specialised underground communications network designed to enhance autonomous fleet operations.

Rham Managing Director, Kevin Reynders, said: “This joint venture project has run effortlessly creating safer machines for our miners.

“Rham Equipment, a Level 3 B-BBEE South African, (Pty) Limited Company, has been producing specialised mining equipment since 1980. The company has been providing the South African mining industry with quality products and top-of-the-range services for the past four decades.”

Reynders added: “The product range includes underground transporters, excavators, LHDs, dump trucks, roof bolters and conveyor drives, to name but a few. To date, Rham Equipment has supplied over 2,000 units to some of the most prominent South African platinum, gold- and coal mines who we count amongst our customer portfolios.”

RCT Business Development Manager for Africa, Mike Thomas, said the project represented an important milestone on many fronts.

“ControlMaster has an extensive history integrating with diesel powered equipment, but this project proves that the technology can interface seamlessly with battery-electric mobile machines.

“Battery-electric equipment fleets can significantly reduce a mining operation’s carbon footprint while eliminating the costs associated with diesel consumption, so we expect to see a greater uptake of the technology around the world. The technology will relocate the machine operators to a safe working area on the mine’s surface while enabling optimised autonomous machine operations.”

“A cornerstone of ControlMaster is its ability to integrate with any machine and this project proves that our technology can interface with Rham’s loader, which is an entirely new machine for us.”

RCT’s technical team will empower mine site personnel with comprehensive training and technical support to operate and maintain the equipment going forward, it said.

The company concluded: “The project demonstrates RCT’s automation technology can successfully integrate with battery-electric mining equipment and is an important step toward delivering an autonomous, carbon-friendly mining fleet of the future.”

RCT to equip Develop with autonomous loading options at Bellevue gold project

RCT says it is partnering with mining services company Develop to deploy state-of-the-art digital automation technology at its recently-awarded Bellevue gold operation in Western Australia.

RCT’s digital ControlMaster® solution will empower Develop with the best autonomous technology to safely manage its underground mobile equipment fleet and make consistent production gains, according to the company.

Develop was awarded work valued at around A$400 million ($280 million) at Bellevue Gold’s Bellevue Gold Mine in Western Australia back in April. The contract, which covers a period of almost four years, provides for Develop’s Underground Services division to undertake construction, development and production activities at the underground mine.

The autonomous solutions are in line with Develop’s innovative business ethos of combining impressive technology with experienced professionals to transform operations into mining powerhouses, RCT said. This will see operators use the ControlMaster Automation Centre and manage a Sandvik LH517i underground loader within the underground complex.

In the future the company will roll out additional autonomous Sandvik LH517i loaders in line with its evolving mining fleet requirements as it moves into production activities.

To accommodate a larger autonomous fleet, Develop will harness the power of ControlMaster Multi-Machine Select (MMS) and Multi-Machine Control (MMC) capabilities into its Automation Centre, RCT says.

These features mean machine operators can switch between underground loaders located throughout the mine and subsequently take control of each machine.

Develop will further support the Bellevue fleet by rolling out RCT Connect, which, RCT says, is the only available mining communications infrastructure designed to accommodate autonomous mining equipment.

The specialised Wi-Fi network will ensure consistent communications and very low machine latency between the machine fleet and Automation Centre, according to RCT.

RCT’s Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said the work at Bellevue will provide a strong foundation on which to grow a business relationship between the two companies.

“We are very pleased to be Develop’s automation technology supplier and provide cutting-edge solutions and a very high level of service from the beginning at Bellevue,” he said. “We will be there alongside Develop as they kick off autonomous machine activities and we are confident that our technology will deliver results every shift.

“RCT proudly has 50 years of experience supporting Goldfield’s mining companies and we look forward to applying all our knowledge to whatever situation Develop faces in the future.”

RCT continues to support PT Freeport Indonesia on technology journey

PT Freeport Indonesia has successfully operated one of the largest mining operations in Indonesia for decades thanks to its ability to embrace technology solutions to enhance its mining operations, smart technology specialist and Freeport supplier RCT says.

Freeport runs copper, gold and silver mines across five separate underground and surface operations in the highlands area of West Papua in Indonesia.

For over 30 years Freeport has enlisted the services of RCT to achieve its goals of making mining operations safer for workers and to optimise operations.

In the early 1990s, Freeport implemented RCT’s ControlMaster® remote control solutions across its mixed Sandvik and Wagner production mining fleet operating in the DOZ underground mine and the Grasberg open pit.

ControlMaster was the ideal solution for Freeport’s mixed mining fleet due to its ability to integrate with any machine type and grant the user effective control of the machine from a safe vantage point, according to RCT.

This has seen RCT go from supplying ControlMaster remote solutions, to performing full machine rewiring projects on-site across the underground LHD fleet. It also included deploying the ControlMaster remote control technology across the surface mining fleet, including Cat D11 and D10R dozers, and installing teleremote technology onto a Cat 994 wheel loader within the open-pit mine.

RCT has also previously commissioned ControlMaster Line-of-Sight remotes onto a variety of surface drills, including a Commando drill and Cubex drill rigs as well as a fixed position rockbreaker.

Over the years Freeport’s technology requirements have evolved and every time RCT has supplied technology in-line with changing expectations, from providing analogue communications equipment through to more current digital networks, RCT said.

At present, RCT is providing bespoke technology solutions to Freeport’s entire fleet of specialised equipment.

RCT Account Manager, Shane Smith, said the local environment presents many unique challenges and Freeport is determined to address these issues with technology, and mine in a safe way.

“Due to hazardous conditions in the underground mines, such as wet muck rushes, Freeport sought to automate water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and other highly specialised equipment,” he said. “Global OEMs were not able to deliver technology to meet Freeport’s standards and so we customised our own technology to create a solution that suits their specific applications. This has been so successful that Freeport now instructs global OEMs that their machines must have an RCT solution fitted at a factory level.”

He added: “The current working relationship between Freeport and RCT is built on the foundations of many years of hard work in delivering effective automation solutions and supporting that technology.”

In 2015, Freeport asked for a RCT specialist to be deployed permanently on-site to provide a high level of support for the extensive range of automation solutions implemented across the mines.

These solutions include deploying the ControlMaster semi-autonomous technology on Cat R1700 and R2900 loaders, which can be managed by operators in Freeport’s central Remote Operation Room (ROR) on the mine’s surface.

Other projects include automating 24 chute systems spread across the Big Gossan, DOZ and DMLZ mines and relocating the chute operator from the gantry to the ROR.

Freeport has also implemented RCT’s Haul Truck Operator Assist technology to optimise underground truck loading operations.

Most recently, RCT commissioned a secondary breakage fleet at Big Gossan, including Getman and Elphinstone water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and Cat skid steers. The mobile rockbreakers have been commissioned with RCT’s autonomous ControlMaster technology and enables personnel to manage machine operations from the safety of the ROR.

Smith said going forward the team will enhance the Multi Fleet Select capability, which will enable site personnel to operate multiple machine types from one Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.

“We will soon have nine new Automation Centres located in Freeport’s ROR and we will fully support local personnel in the ramping up of their autonomous fleet operations,” he said. “Freeport is at the forefront of embracing technology to enhance their mining operations and we are very pleased to support them in this journey.”

RCT Line of Sight solution lowers operational risk at OceanaGold’s Macraes mine

RCT’s ControlMaster® Line of Sight dozer solution has another customer reference to hand, following a recent deployment at OceanaGold’s Macraes operation in New Zealand.

The operation installed and commissioned a RCT solution to its Cat D10T2 dozer, allowing the machine to be remotely operated in higher-risk areas of the open-pit operations, OceanaGold said.

RCT confirmed the project included its Line of Sight solution, which forms part of its ControlMaster automation and control product range.

“We have quite an extensive history working on dozers, including Cat D10Ts, so the installation went smoothly thanks to the collaboration of RCT’s Customer Service team and OceanaGold​’s site team,” a spokesperson told IM. “Our international technicians provided site personnel with remote support during the installation and commissioning process.”

Over 49 years in business, RCT says it has successfully provided more dozer control solutions than any other company in the world.

The Macraes operation on the South Island of New Zealand is the country’s largest active gold producing mine, having produced over 5 Moz of gold since 1990, OceanaGold said. The operation consists of an open-pit mine, an underground mine, and an adjacent process plant inclusive of an autoclave for pressure oxidation of the ore. The operation produced 144,487 oz gold in 2020.

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.