Tag Archives: digital mine

Outotec to help expand JSC Stoilensky GOK iron ore pelletising plant

Outotec says it and Russia iron ore pellet producer JSC Stoilensky GOK (S-GOK), which is a part of NLMK Group, have entered into a contract to expand S-GOK’s pellet plant located in Stary Oskol, Russia.

The approximately €15 million ($16.9 million) order has been booked in Outotec’s 2019 March quarter order intake, it said.

Outotec previously delivered the technology for S-GOK’s pellet plant, which has been in operation since 2017, but this latest contract will see the plant’s annual capacity go from 6 Mt to 8 Mt.

Outotec will be responsible for the engineering, supply of key equipment and automation system as well as advisory services for installation and commissioning of the expansion.

The company said its latest technology improvements in green pelletising, cooling air process, and pallet car changing system will be applied, together with a digital solution package. The deliveries will take place at the end of 2020.

Additionally, in 2019-2021, NLMK said it plans to boost ore production and beneficiation capacity by 14% via upgrades of Stoilensky’s other transformation stages with a view to ensuring stable supply of raw materials to the pelletiser after it reaches the output of 8 Mt/y. This will enable the company to increase its ore processing capacity from 37 Mt/y to 42 Mt/y and to increase its concentrate output from 17.3 Mt/y to 20 Mt/y.

Kalle Härkki, Head of Outotec’s Metals, Energy & Water business, said: “We are excited about continued cooperation with S-GOK and the delivery of our latest technology improvements and digital solutions to this project. With intelligent services, applications and equipment we ensure safety, predictability and optimal performance of the plant, and S-GOK will get the best value from their assets.”

Konstantin Lagutin, NLMK Group Vice President, Investment Projects, said Outotec was its long-standing and reliable partner, “with whom we successfully implemented Europe’s largest pelletising plant in Stary Oskol”.

“The new expansion project is an important element of our Strategy 2022, aimed at meeting our growing raw material needs as well as increasing efficient steel production,” he said.

Aury Africa equipped for the digitalisation of mining

Aury Africa Managing Director, Sydney Parkhouse, says in the near future the company will be tracking all of its screening and vibrating equipment via RFID tags and will incorporate full data packs for real-time access.

Speaking to IM, Parkhouse said Aury had been increasing its use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to measure important information such as temperature and vibration in its equipment. Initially this technology has been installed at three mines in South Africa to help track service data and share that information with mine operators, he said.

He told IM he saw many more applications beyond this.

“RFID tags have the capabilities of providing proof of presence when activated by for-purpose RFID readers. The associated software is configurable so that external monitoring devices can be inputted into the reader providing valuable information such as temperature, vibration, etc.

“However, the real benefits are through the digitisation of work processes,” he said. By capturing such data, personnel can verify all work processes are being completed in a logical manner, according to Parkhouse.

“Furthermore, real time capturing of data by trained personnel provides useful information, through configurable reports,” he said.

The RFID technology, using InfoChip software, was developed for Aury Africa by its Johannesburg-based technology partner, Thembekile Asset Management Solutions (AMS). The system not only allows the company to track when services are provided, but also enables some self-learning for its crew, while ensuring regulatory compliance for the mine, Parkhouse said.

AMS has offered active and passive RFID-based solutions to the mining industry, as well as the health care and logistics sectors, since 2012, according to Parkhouse.

In addition to the development of the use of RFID tags in equipment – which Parkhouse considers to be part of Aury’s broader goals of adapting to all facets of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including the digitalisation of mining – Aury’s sister company, Tianjin Meiteng Technology, is piloting ‘Smart Plant’ technology.

“The group’s ‘Smart Plant’ concept utilises automated control and sensor technology to monitor key parameters to boost operational efficiency on a proactive, real-time basis,” Parkhouse said.

This can range from pump pressure to conveyor belt speed, with all associated software and hardware proprietary and developed specifically by Aury’s parent company, Dadi Engineering Development Group.

Dadi recently retrofitted such a system at a 30 Mt/y coal handling plant in China, but Parkhouse said the market in Africa for such ‘Smart Plants’ was still in its infancy.

“Although several major mining houses have set goals for smart plants, the acceptance of the technology is slow and we believe it will be several years before there will be any significant changes,” he said.

Aury has also been carrying out work in dry processing; an area that has come into focus in recent years on the back of heightened fears over water resources.

Dadi, its parent company, has devised an intelligent dry sorting system (pictured above) that does not consume water or media, and has been gaining favour in China – Aury estimates some 60 dry systems are already in operation in the country.

Parkhouse expected Aury to have sold and installed its first dry sorting system in Africa by the end of the year, explaining ongoing trials of South Africa coals were taking place at Meiting’s facilities in Tianjin, China.

“In the meantime, plans are in place to bring into South Africa a pilot plant during the third quarter (September quarter),” he said.

When asked how this technology differed from other ‘dry’ technologies being developed by original equipment manufacturers, Parkhouse responded: “The real brains behind the technology is the development of big data capture, cloud computing, high-speed processors and high-tech IT skills. We believe Meitieng is at the front of this development.”

He said there were also applications beyond coal: “Trials are on-going in manganese and gold, which have produced very positive results to date.”

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.

ABB twins digital solutions with Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform

ABB and Dassault Systèmes have announced a global partnership to offer customers in digital industries a “unique software solutions portfolio ranging from product life cycle management to asset health solutions”, the two companies said.

ABB and Dassault will, they say, provide customers an end-to-end offering of advanced open digital solutions, enhancing competitiveness of industrial companies, while increasing flexibility, speed and productivity of their products’ lifecycles, manufacturing and operations.

The partnership will combine ABB Ability™ digital solutions and Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and build on both companies’ strong installed base, deep domain expertise and global customer access, they said. ABB has already adopted the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to model and simulate its solutions before delivering them to its customers.

“With this partnership, ABB will develop and provide customers with advanced digital twins, enabling customers to run ABB’s solutions and their operations with improved overall efficiency, flexibility and sustainability,” ABB said.

The companies will, in a staged approach, focus on factory automation and robotics, process industry automation, as well as electrification solutions for smart buildings, with the first joint solutions showcased at the upcoming industrial Hannover Messe trade fair, in Germany, on April 1-5.

ABB CEO, Ulrich Spiesshofer, said: “This game-changing partnership will serve our customers to lead in innovation and growth, fundamentally transforming their entire value chain to tap the vast opportunities of industrial digitalisation. Together, we are offering an open, end-to-end digital portfolio – from digital twin to asset health – that gives our customers a competitive edge, building on our combined offering, domain expertise and global reach.

“ABB is adding Dassault Systèmes to its strong partner network for industrial digitalisation, including Microsoft, HPE and IBM. We look very much forward to working with the entire global Dassault Systèmes team to drive innovation and customer value.”

Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO, Dassault Systèmes, said: “The industry of the 21st century is no longer determined simply by the ability to manufacture goods. Today’s leaders will be determined by superior mastery of technical know-how. This is the new competitive differentiator and it’s happening now due to a convergence of digital technologies that are transforming every aspect of industrial business.

“In this industry renaissance, a platform approach enables the real and virtual worlds to inform and reinforce one another. Our partnership with ABB will draw from decades of combined expertise to help customers make the most of this powerful and dynamic trend.”

ABB’s digital solution offering within the industry is tied to its ABB Ability platform, launched in 2017, which offers more than 210 digital solutions to plan, build and operate industrial operations with higher productivity and safety at lower costs.

Dassault Systèmes, meanwhile, works with companies of all sizes in 11 industries to help them meet new challenges. “The 3DEXPERIENCE platform integrates all the technologies and capabilities that leverage knowledge and know-how into one cohesive digital innovation environment that delivers digital continuity from concept to manufacturing to ownership and back,” the two companies said. Industrial companies can integrate the platform’s 3D applications to create a digital twin that captures insights and expertise from across their entire ecosystem, to measure, assess and predict the performance of an industrial asset and help optimise its operation in an intelligent way, they added.

The ABB – Dassault Systèmes partnership will initially focus on factory automation and robotics, smart building and process industries.

On the latter, the two companies said: “Competitive pressure in process industries, such as mining, requires companies to continuously look for new ways to increase safety, productivity and energy efficiency of sites, while reducing costs and risk of daily operations. A digital model of the underground environment, in connection with mine planning and control systems, would allow to optimise energy consumption and mine automation, as well as enable mine operators to monitor and optimise production in real-time, while running virtual simulations of future scenarios.”

Technology revolution set to transform mining jobs in Australia: EY report

Innovation, people and skills combined with technological advances will deliver a more globally competitive minerals sector that delivers fulfilling careers in highly paid, high-skilled jobs, according to a report released by accountancy firm EY.

The release of EY’s Skills Map for the Future of Work – commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) – provides a comprehensive examination of future skills and training and technology trends in the Australian minerals industry, according to the MCA.

The key findings by EY, according to MCA, include:

  • Seventy-seven per cent of jobs in Australia mining will be enhanced or redesigned due to technology within the next five years;
  • Productivity increases up to 23% can be achieved with the rollout of new technologies, costing more than A$35 billion ($25 billion);
  • An injection of A$5 billion to A$13 billion in workforce capability will be needed over the next decade to unlock future productivity gains, and;
  • Australia education and training systems need to be modernised to deliver higher certification and fit-for-purpose degrees.

“New technology and innovative practices will enhance the performance and productivity of 42% of Australian mining jobs, with a further 35% of occupations being redesigned and up-skilled leading to more valuable employment opportunities,” MCA said. “Automation will give the opportunity for reskilling into other areas.”

EY’s study also identified Australia’s education and training system needs to be modernised by offering improved course structures and enhanced movement between universities and the vocational education sectors, according to the MCA.

“Future university degrees will need to have a mix of the latest scientific, technical and trade skills along with soft skills including collaboration, team building, communication and creativity,” the council said.

“A decade-long investment by industry and government in general skills incorporating mathematics, data analytics, computing and change management will boost productivity in the minerals sector.”

Jobs that will be made future-ready through large investments will include metal fitters, machinists, building and engineering technical and experts in electronics and mechatronics, the MCA added. “For example, a shot-firer working on a drilling team will have the opportunity in Australia’s future minerals workforce to use drone technology to monitor automated rigs.”

The MCA said: “Australian mining will continue to take advantage of innovation, technology and new ways of working to create high-paying, high skilled jobs.”

The Skills Map includes two major reports: The Future of Work: the Changing Skills Landscape for Miners and The Future of Work: The economic implications of technology and digital mining.

Newmont speeding up mine plan decisions with digital and VR technologies

Newmont Mining, in a recent blog, has provided more details of how it is using digital technology and strategic mine planning to improve decision making at its operations.

One of the examples the leading gold miner gave was how it is using Maptek’s Vulcan Stope Optimiser at its Tanami gold operation in Australia.

This software delivers full 3D capabilities on stope shape generation and block model analysis without manual digitising, according to Maptek.

“Used at our Tanami operation, Vulcan delivers an improved approach for open-pit ore control polygon optimisation and helps reduce design time by roughly 98%,” Newmont said, citing a Maptek case study.

Virtual reality is another technology helping the company make smarter decisions, faster, it added.

“Paraview software – an open-source, multi-platform data analysis and visualisation application – delivers 2D data maps at a 3D scale, helping engineers and technicians envision geology models with greater precision,” Newmont said.

“With virtual reality, we are better equipped to identify potential problem areas and make smarter planning decisions.”

Newmont says it makes investments in these technologies only after asking – and answering – this question: “Does it add value or reduce risk to the business?”

“To help us answer this question, we partner with academic and industry experts to develop, source and test tools for driving mine optimisation. Only after rigorous trials result in proven value creation can teams then consider a wider rollout across sites,” it said.

One example of Newmont’s technology research and development work is its partnership with Montreal’s McGill University to launch the COSMO Laboratory – a global consortium dedicated to advancing the mine of the future.

Ma’aden looks for digital mining solutions with GE partnership

The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) and GE have signed a strategic memorandum of understanding that could see digital solutions installed across the mining company’s gold, copper, aluminium, and phosphate operations.

GE, as part of the pact, will provide Ma’aden with digital transformation advisory and applications, as well as leadership and training opportunities for its employees across Saudi Arabia.

Ma’aden has been pursuing a number of partnerships to “capture the opportunities found in digitisation and innovation”, and will invest in the application of pioneering technologies in its operations in Saudi Arabia “in order to remain ahead of the competition and reinforce the company as a global mining leader”, the company said.

GE’s digital mining solutions will look at specific areas of Ma’aden’s operations to improve ore grades, reduce fuel and energy costs and usage, improve equipment reliability and availability, cut maintenance costs, and boost productivity and efficiency across operations.

GE Mining’s Digital Mine is made up of technologies to help improve performance, reliability, and operations while promoting safer mining practices through intelligent, real-time monitoring across the mine.

“Powered by GE’s Predix platform, the only Industrial Internet platform built exclusively for industry, Digital Mine enables operators to make data-driven decisions that improve equipment reliability and optimise mine operations,” GE says.

Darren Davis (picture, left, signing the agreement), Ma’aden Acting President and CEO, said of the GE partnership: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has high aspirations for the deployment of new technology and the digitisation of industrial landscape in the country. Ma’aden is committed to championing the responsible development of the mining sector as a major pillar of the Saudi economy and digitalisation, as part of the fourth industrial revolution, will be key to ensuring we achieve our goal of becoming a ‘sustainable mining champion’.”

Davis added that the initiative with GE will unlock the next wave of significant value creation and increase the company’s competitiveness and sustainability.

Bill Ruh (pictured, right), President and CEO, GE Digital, said: “The scale and impact of organisations such as Ma’aden is enormous, and we know that the optimisation and increases in efficiency will have a major impact on the company and the country.”

Earlier this year, GE and South32 signed a three-year strategic partnership to help develop the mining company’s technology roadmap and digital transformation programme. GE is also working with Rio Tinto to optimise its Pilbara rail operations and Vedanta in South Africa on its Gamsberg digitisation programme.