Tag Archives: digital twin

Weir Minerals taps XMPro digital twin solution for Synertrex development

Weir Minerals has announced a new partnership with XMPro, a digital twin platform, to enable intelligent equipment and services and support miners to achieve higher performance while also reducing the environmental footprint of their operations, the mining OEM says.

The XMPro platform – as a part of the Synertrex® digital ecosystem – will facilitate the delivery of event intelligence, predictive analytics and real-time insights, Weir Minerals said. It allows for data orchestration and value creation from multiple sources, including sensors, miners’ digital ecosystems and data only available to Weir Minerals as an OEM, like maintenance data and 3D engineering models, it said.

The platform identifies critical events by applying artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, which will provide Weir Minerals’ customers with the next generation of predictive services and recommended actions. XMPro facilitates easy collaboration between reliability engineering and operations by providing real-time information and equipment insights, viewed via mobile devices and the Synertrex intelligence web portal, according to the company.

Weir Minerals also recently signed a digital partnership framework for strategic cooperation with AVEVA, an end-to-end pioneering industrial software provider. 

Ole Knudsen, Weir Minerals, Director Digital, said: “XMPro takes an actionable and collaborative approach to data that closely aligns with our Synertrex digital ecosystem. It is a platform ensuring maximum customer value from all the data we collect, ranging from equipment and process data to the in-house data we have access to as an OEM. We see the multiple data source approach as essential to build the holistic digital twins providing ‘intelligence’ to our customers in terms of insights, predictiveness and recommendations allowing for a proactive approach to maintenance planning and execution.

“Within the foreseeable future, we see these platforms and the building of the multiple data-source digital twins providing even more value for Weir Minerals and our customers, which is enabled by closing the loop between real-time operations, equipment design and manufacturing.”

Pieter van Schalkwyk, CEO XMPro, said: “The partnership between Weir and XMPro creates a unique opportunity for mining companies to accelerate their digital transformation journey for complex assets. It combines Weir’s deep domain expertise and rich asset information models with XMPro’s class-leading real-time, operational digital twin platform. This combination provides unique insights, prescriptive maintenance and operations recommendations for users of Weir’s extensive range of mining equipment.

“It has been a pleasure working with Weir’s engineering team, who are not only deep domain experts on mining processes but also have a clear vision of their roadmap for digital solutions that provide real-time operational intelligence for the overall mining value chain. We are excited that XMPro is the platform that Weir chose to deliver these capabilities to end-users.”

Metso Outotec to ‘enrich’ mining, metallurgy decision making with Geminex digital twin

The value a ‘true’ digital twin could provide the mineral processing and metallurgical industries has been spoken of continuously throughout the last few years, and Metso Outotec believes it is on the cusp of realising such value with its “science-based” Metso Outotec Geminex™ digital twin.

Designed to manage variability and optimise resources, the solution simulates and optimises seamless sustainable operations in minerals, pyro- and hydro-metallurgical processes by combining operational data from both internal and external data sources, the company says.

For simulation and production, Geminex uses the renowned HSC process models that already have over 20,000 users worldwide. These models – which combine versatile chemical, thermodynamic and mineral processing features – have been successfully implemented in hundreds of minerals and metals processing flowsheet development cases, with the same models used in plant run-time optimisation, according to Metso Outotec.

There’s more to this digital twin than the HSC process models alone, according to Veli-Matti Järvinen, Vice President, Automation at Metso Outotec.

Geminex uses “first-principle” dynamic process and equipment models for calibrated performance to help provide an ‘accurate’ digital twin for existing operations, he says.

“Here, both quality and availability of key process data are important,” he told IM, mentioning that normally available instrument and laboratory data tend to be sufficient inputs for generating the digital twin’s simulations.

And Geminex, through a series of “soft sensors”, also produces a vast amount of data that cannot be measured directly yet is leveraged through the dynamic process models, according to Järvinen.

“These soft sensors, as they are called, give an insight to the process that was not available before,” he explained, with examples including element or mineral content by particle size fractions in the process streams. This goes one step further than the feedback from, for instance, Metso Outotec’s Courier® on-stream analysers, which provide real-time elemental analysis measurements.

This makes the digital twin that much more powerful than existing solutions on the market, as it can introduce a new dataset to the equation.

And, as with all ‘true’ digital twins, the models are adapted to live data and continuously improved by machine-learning algorithms, Järvinen said.

“An example of this is model adaptation for variable ore types with different processing performance to help manage variability,” he said. “The resulting metallurgical digital twin is accurate, and its behaviour reflects the physical process.”

All this means Geminex can simulate and test alternative operational scenarios and parameters based on accurate process models and real data, providing the sort of decision-making tools the industry has been after for decades.

While the resource sustainability angle is key here – reinforced by the fact Metso Outotec has labelled Geminex as a Planet Positive product: a collection of the company’s most environmentally efficient technologies – the digital twin’s ability to use resources in an optimal way while considering both impacts and constraints is only a fraction of the industries’ value case.

The ability to incorporate new equipment and tools in a ‘live’ flowsheet that considers the specific characteristics of the orebody at hand and the conditions in which each processing stage receives material is very powerful. One can see it easily aiding the incorporation of new technology in the plant, with the simulations able to provide operators with the confidence to leverage innovations.

Järvinen says the digital twin’s use will also enable the company to start process flowsheet design that much earlier in the mine exploration/development stage.

“As soon as the customer has metallurgical data, the process can be designed and optimised to match the required economic optimum,” he said.

Metso Outotec’s strong experience in developing metallurgical processes, as well as incorporation of the process models of Metso Outotec’s HSC simulation package for minerals processing, pyro- and hydro-metallurgical processes, enables this early analysis.

“These models provide great value in the exploratory phase by enabling scenario analysis, which will help find alternatives for process flowsheets, equipment selection and even blending of different types of ore, if needed,” Järvinen said.

At the same time, Järvinen expects the Geminex digital twin to reduce the plant ramp-up time and “time to market” in the later mining project stages as operators will be that much better prepared for the likes of cold and hot commissioning.

“Great value and impact towards a positive change can be achieved in the run-time of the mining operation and the operating strategy by enriching decisions with the help of Geminex,” he said.

Geminex may be Metso Outotec’s own proprietary digital twin, but, thanks to an extensive back catalogue of process plant modelling references, it is able to run dynamic simulations that incorporate competitor equipment, according to Järvinen.

Similarly, while the company has sustainability and Planet Positive aims for Geminex, the equipment to feature in simulations does not have to be classified as Planet Positive, Järvinen says.

“The processes or assets do not need to be Planet Positive equipment, but those can become such with proper control and optimisation,” he said. “With Metso Outotec Geminex, the full value chain of mineral processing plants and hydro- and pyro-metallurgical plants are considered for Planet Positive production.”

Able to be implemented in modules, Geminex can be deployed piece by piece as part of customers’ digital transformation and continuous improvement projects, he added, opening the possibilities for Metso Outotec to leverage its capabilities beyond full flowsheet design.

In the development phase of Geminex, Metso Outotec carried out several successful pilots with universities and, now commercially available, the company has three ongoing projects in the delivery/commissioning phase with early adopters.

“These projects are already providing good results,” Järvinen said.

“With the good and growing process expertise, we are well prepared to support numerous customers with various optimisation targets in mind.”

Newcrest and Microsoft partner on digital twin and sustainability modelling projects

Microsoft has announced a strategic partnership with Newcrest, which will see the mining company adopt Azure as its preferred cloud provider on a global basis, as well as work on digital twins and a sustainability data model.

The two companies are collaborating on programs of work including the use of digital twins to improve operational performance and a high-impact sustainability data model, Microsoft said.

As an industry-leading user of Microsoft technology, Newcrest has migrated all key workloads, including SAP, from private cloud to Azure. Microsoft 365 is deployed across the organisation, as is Teams and Power BI.

Two priority projects are underway, with the first being the creation of a full value chain digital twin at Newcrest’s Cadia operation in New South Wales, which captures operational data spanning the full breadth of the site. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Willow and site operational experts, the digital twin displays data from both information technology and operational technology through easy-to-digest 3D visualisations of the mining process, Microsoft explained. This allows operators and managers to make tactical and strategic decisions in real time to improve performance.

A scenario planning tool will eventually be integrated into the digital twin to enable testing of simulated actions against live data before making operational changes in the field. Together with data on other critical operational metrics, such as recovery and costs, this solution will evolve into a full productivity model for each mining site, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft and Versor are also working with Newcrest on a sustainability data model, with the first release due by June 2022. The model is designed to improve sustainability and streamline environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. It will also reduce the time it takes to produce annual sustainability reports. Newcrest will eventually integrate a 3D visualisation tool into the data model to better view end-to-end sustainability performance across the value chain.

Gavin Wood, Chief Information Officer at Newcrest, said these platforms create a scaffold for new digital solutions that will provide predictive and prescriptive insights to help the company optimise operations.

“When you think about how big and complex a mine site is, particularly in regard to the processing done on site, how much energy and water it consumes, the ability to use the full power of AI to provide actionable insights across the value chain is going to unlock so much value for us,” Wood said.

“This is key to our broader ambition to use technology as an opportunity to build on our successes in safety, sustainability and efficient mining.”

He added that having Microsoft as a strategic partner delivered an important advantage for Newcrest.

“I’m a big believer that when it comes to technology – and I’m talking about all technology, not just the IT world – complexity is the thing that kills you,” Wood said.

“It’s better to have simpler architectures and technology portfolios with fewer partners, where you have deeper partnerships and you work closely together, and benefit from the integration that comes with this approach.”

Newcrest’s strategic partnership with Microsoft has been forged with that in mind, Microsoft said.

Microsoft’s global cloud, Azure, now supports the company’s operations around the world. Newcrest is also exploring how it can use Microsoft’s Cloud for Sustainability, which is designed to record, report and reduce carbon emissions through actionable insights.

Brett Shoemaker, Director of Sustainability, Microsoft ANZ, said: “We are proud to work with Newcrest to harness the power of technology to build a more sustainable future, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and water, and driving change.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so data and AI are keys to success. If we can get insights to the right people at the right time, and use data and AI to automate responses where it makes sense, we can impact environmental sustainability. That’s at the heart of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.”

Working with Microsoft and Versor, and leveraging Azure and Power BI, Newcrest has already developed data models that are being used across production, safety, cost and people processes, and which will inform the sustainability data project.

Bentley’s Seequent gets geophysical with Aarhus GeoSoftware buy

Bentley Systems’ newly acquired business unit, Seequent, has added Danish company Aarhus GeoSoftware, a developer of geophysical software, to its portfolio.

The acquisition extends Seequent’s solutions for operational ground water management, and for sustainability projects involving exploration, contaminants, and infrastructure resilience, Bentley said.

Aarhus GeoSoftware, a spinoff company from Aarhus University in Denmark, develops the software packages AGS Workbench, SPIA, Res2DInv, and Res3DInv for the processing, inversion, and visualisation of geophysical data from ground-based and airborne electromagnetic, electrical resistivity tomography remote sensing, and other sources. AGS software enables users to create 2D and 3D images of subsurface electrical resistivity, according to Bentley, with the outputs used to distinguish and differentiate subsurface materials. They can subsequently be modelled in Seequent’s Leapfrog to aid in various subsurface investigations.

The software uses electric field measurements, collected at ground level or with airborne sensors, to map the subsurface distribution of certain materials such as water, mineral deposits and clays.

Electrical resistivity, Bentley says, allows a better understanding of the distribution of these materials and, when the water contains other compounds such as salt, researchers and industry professionals can infer the distribution.

The genesis of AGS software was to ensure clean drinking water for future generations by mapping groundwater across Denmark. It is now used in many different areas, including investigating orebodies and waste rock and tailing processes in mining.

Seequent says it will continue its tradition of collaborating with universities and research organisations worldwide through ongoing engagement with Aarhus University for the development of AGS geophysical solutions.

Graham Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Seequent, said, “The acquisition will add new geophysical data processing capabilities to our workflows to help advance subsurface investigation and modelling. AGS software, coupled with Seequent’s advanced geologic modelling and analysis software, creates a key tool in helping understand and manage groundwater and assessing risk in infrastructure such as dams and canals. We’re excited about the new possibilities this opens up for our collective users worldwide, improving life-time digital twins.”

Toke Højbjerg Søltoft, Chief Executive Officer of Aarhus GeoSoftware, said: “Seequent’s global reach will allow AGS software to positively impact more projects worldwide. As we continue to develop solutions, our users will benefit from our tools being in Seequent’s ecosystem and workflow. We’re excited to join Seequent and to work together on our shared vision of helping organisations make more informed and sustainable decisions through a better understanding of the subsurface.”

Metso Outotec takes mining and metals innovation to the next level with new facility

Metso Outotec has launched its first innovation centre in Espoo, Finland, as it looks to bring “together the comprehensive value chain from ore to metals” and enable “rapid co-creation with customers and partners”.

The Metso Outotec Innovation Center offers unique expertise and tools for solving different types of challenges, from process optimisation to the selection and virtual prototyping of solutions, in a cutting-edge environment, the company says.

“It takes ideation, collaboration, and innovation to the next level,” Metso Outotec added.

Veli-Matti Järvinen, Vice President for Automation and Digital Solutions, Minerals, at Metso Outotec, explained: “The Innovation Center introduces a completely new way to collaborate and co-create with our customers and partners. Adding value to our customers’ processes and ensuring their reliable, efficient and sustainable operation, as well as safety are all at the core of what we do at the Innovation Center.”

The centre looks to serve demand for a suitable virtual environment in which to quickly develop and test flowsheet solutions and prototypes, with the facility able to offer digital demonstrations; host training, problem-solving and co-creation workshop sessions; demonstrate technologies and services; cement value calculations; and display three-dimensional engineering digital twins in accurate form while securely protecting data and sensitive content.

These are just some of the features currently in play, with more set to be introduced including process control demonstrations, 5G connectivity, a metallurgical digital twin, extended process optimiser demonstrations, and modelling and simulation.

Järvinen concluded: “In our new digital space, we can support our customers at every stage of their continuous improvement path. We’re thrilled about the opportunities offered by the Innovation Center: it speeds up the innovation cycle and makes efficient collaboration possible in a space that is both physical and digital.”

Anglo American Platinum’s modernisation drive to continue into 2021

Anglo American Platinum says it is looking to deliver the next phase of value to its stakeholders after reporting record EBITDA for 2020 in the face of COVID-19-related disruption.

The miner, majority-owned by Anglo American, saw production drop 14% year-on-year in 2020 to 3.8 Moz (on a 100% basis) due to COVID-related stoppages. Despite this, a higher basket price for its platinum group metals saw EBITDA jump 39% to R41.6 billion ($2.8 billion) for the year.

As all its mines are now back to their full operating rates, the company was confident enough to state PGM metal in concentrate production should rise to 4.2-4.6 Moz in 2021.

Part of its pledge to deliver more value to stakeholders was related to turning 100% of its operations into fully modernised and mechanised mines by 2030. At the end of 2020, the company said 88% of its mines could be classified as fully modernised and mechanised.

There were some operational bright spots during 2020 the company flagged.

At Mogalakwena – very much the company’s flagship operation – Anglo Platinum said the South Africa mine continued its journey to deliver best-in-class performance through its P101 program.

Rope-shovel performance improved to 26 Mt in 2020, from 15 Mt in 2019, while drill penetration rates for big rigs increased from 15 m/h, to 16.7 m/h. Alongside this, the company said its Komatsu 930E truck fleet performance improved to 298 t/load in 2020, from 292 t/load in 2019.

These were contributing factors to concentrator recoveries increasing by two percentage points in 2020 over 2019.

During the next few years, the company has big plans to further improve Mogalakwena’s performance.

In 2020, the mine invested R500 million in operating and capital expenditure, which included commissioning a full-scale bulk ore sorting plant, coarse particle rejection project and development of the hydrogen-powered fuel-cell mining haul-truck (otherwise referred to as the FCEV haul truck).

First motion of the 291 t FCEV haul truck is still on track for the second half of 2021, with the company planning to roll out circa-40 such trucks from 2024.

Anglo Platinum said the bulk sorting plant (which includes a Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis and XRF sensor-based setup, pictured) campaign at the Mogalakwena operation is due to end this quarter.

The company’s hydraulic dry stacking project is only just getting started.

This project, which involves coarse gangue rejection before primary flotation for safer tailings storage facilities, is expected to see a construction start in the June quarter, followed by a campaign commencement and conclusion in the September quarter and December quarters, respectively.

On another of Anglo Platinum’s big technology breakthrough projects – coarse particle rejection for post primary milling rejection of coarse gangue before primary flotation – the company plans to start a campaign in the December quarter of this year and conclude said campaign by the end of the March quarter of 2022.

The company also has eyes on making progress underground at Mogalakwena, with a hard-rock cutting project to “increase stoping productivity and safety” set for Phase A early access works this year. This project is set to involve swarm robotics for autonomous, 24/7 self-learning underground mining, the company said.

Lastly, the company’s said the digital operational planning part of its VOXEL digital platform had gone live at Mogalakwena. VOXEL is expected to eventually connect assets, processes, and people in a new digital thread across the value chain to create a family of digital twins of the entire mining environment, the company says. Development is currently ongoing.

Looking back to 2020 performance at the Unki mine, in Zimbabwe, Anglo reflected on some more technology initiatives related to R26 million of expenditure for a digitalisation program. This included installing underground Wi-Fi infrastructure, as well as a fleet data management system to track analytics on primary production equipment. The company says these digital developments will enhance real-time data analysis, improve short-interval control and overall equipment effectiveness.

To step up mechanisation of its PGM operations at Amandelbult, Anglo American Platinum is also investing in innovation.

This includes in-stope safety technologies such as split panel layouts to allow buffer times between cycles, creating safer continuous operation and reduced employee exposure; improved roof support technology and new drilling technologies; a shift to emulsion blasting from throw blasting; and safety enhancements through fall of ground indicators, 2 t safety nets, LED lights, and winch proximity detection.

Meanwhile, at the company’s Mototolo/Der Brochen operations, it is working on developing the first lined tailings storage facility at Mareesburg in South Africa to ensure zero contamination of ground water. The three-phase approach adopted for construction of this facility will be completed this year.

Aspen Tech and Wood to offer clients predictive, prescriptive maintenance solutions

Aspen Technology and Wood have announced a new partnership that will offer Wood’s clients Aspen Mtell® asset performance management (APM) technology for predictive and prescriptive maintenance.

The partnership will enable global enterprises to improve the performance of their manufacturing and facility assets through a maintenance solution built upon industrial artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the companies said.

Aspen Mtell analyses historical and real-time operational and maintenance data to discover the precise failure signatures that precede asset degradation and breakdowns, predict future failures, and prescribe detailed actions to mitigate problems, they explained.

Wood has decades of experience providing solution-independent asset performance consulting, as well as integrating and deploying specialty engineering services and real-time performance monitoring systems, some of which has been mining-related.

“The combination of this deep domain expertise of asset and operator challenges, with AspenTech’s extensive knowledge of the process manufacturing industry and proven AI-driven predictive and prescriptive maintenance solutions, provides a unique customised asset performance management solution for operators’ needs,” the two companies said.

Prabu Parthasarathy, Vice President of Intelligent Operations at Wood, said: “Wood has an extensive understanding of the performance optimisation needs of our clients and realised a unique opportunity to provide a solution to help enhance asset productivity and identify potential issues well ahead of time.”

Darren Martin, CTO at Wood, added: “We are excited to bring AspenTech into our strategic partnership ecosystem to unlock innovative technology solutions to solve our clients’ challenges. Aspen Mtell is part of our connected operations and maintenance programs that will allow our clients to detect patterns in operating data, allowing them to take prescriptive action and avoid unplanned downtime. Together, our vision is to drive value through digital twins across the full asset lifecycle, working to optimise asset performance, monitoring, and control across any environment.”

Greg Mason, Senior Vice President and General Manager of APM, Aspen Technology, said the value of predictive and prescriptive maintenance represents much more than simply predicting failures on large rotating assets.

“Companies that are truly focused on eliminating safety and environmental incidents tied to machine failure, in addition to avoiding production losses, understand the need to have a comprehensive predictive maintenance culture throughout the entire plant,” he said. “This requires an analytics technology that is scalable, resources needed to deploy to scale, and the expertise to lead change management. I’m pleased to say that the partnership of AspenTech and Wood around the Aspen Mtell solution provide these three unique capabilities needed to bring contextualised AI for the process industries to scale.”

Sandvik showcases digital mining developments in Brisbane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MacLean Engineering’s digital twin technology takes shape

Having witnessed – and benefitted from – the electrification and automation evolution going on in the underground mining industry, MacLean Engineering is also leveraging digitalisation to improve machine analysis and performance for its customers.

The Sudbury, Ontario-based company, over the last few years, set itself a target of creating a digital twin for every MacLean mining vehicle and, Stuart Lister, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, says the company is now at a point in its product development evolution where it can share some progress.

On the real-time analytics front, the company has a purpose-built vehicle monitoring system on its 15-unit fleet of battery-electric vehicles at the Newmont Goldcorp-owned Borden gold mine in northern Ontario, he said.

“This system streams real-time performance data (both tramming and application) to the cloud for remote analysis and better decision making for maintenance and operations personnel at site,” he explained.

This MacLean IntelliOp VMS package consists of sensors and display screens installed on each unit, supported by analytics software that “distils vehicle performance data” based on an OEM-level of product design knowledge, according to Lister.

“IntelliOp presents actionable data and provides prompts on the in-cab screen so that it offers up immediate benefits with regard to operator performance,” he said. “It also clears away the background noise of vehicle health telemetry by presenting this data in a way that enables predictive maintenance decision making, not bring about ‘decision overwhelm’.”

Lister said the company is also taking a “leap” to a cloud-based documentation platform for parts books and parts ordering as well as technical manuals. This online environment provides a high level of offline functionality and is where “almost real-time downloaded PDFs” can be created easily and quickly, he said.

“Our new ‘Documoto’ parts ordering portal will have the look and feel of a best-in-class consumer retail experience,” he said. The company is also able to layer on a library of training content, for example ‘how-to’ videos that MacLean thinks will be of great help to its customer base. “Going forward, we’re going to build this content out with training videos shot in our test mine,” he said.

Lister continued: “And, speaking of training, a great example of the MacLean digital twin philosophy taking shape is our development of a virtual reality (VR) bolter that offers up a digital simulation of a bolter environment within a headset.”

The company showed off this VR innovation at the CIM Convention, in Montreal, earlier this year, providing visitors with a hands-on experience of the immersive training world of virtual ground support installation.

Lister remarked: “It’s easy to transport and the technology is well known and well-liked by the coming generation of underground miners who are growing up with this type of technology as part of their day-to-day.”

MacLean also has plans to extend its VR capabilities to pre-op walkarounds and full simulator treatments for the MacLean Blockholer and MacLean Shotcrete Sprayer, it previously said.

He added: “The MacLean digital twin is indeed taking shape and, we’re just getting started.”

Next up for the company is connecting its real-time vehicle performance data and the cloud-based parts book and technical manuals repository with each unit’s maintenance history.

“The scenario is a mine’s service technician showing up at a piece of mining equipment, with a tablet that can instantly get a picture of the work that has been done to that unit, along with predictive maintenance suggestions – maintenance tasks and parts,” Lister said.

“This is just one example of how the rollout of the digital twin, if done right, could make a practical difference in underground mining. That’s why we’re devoting resources to pushing forward in this area.”

Goldcorp narrows down finalists for #DisruptMining PDAC showdown

Goldcorp has announced the three finalists selected to pitch to a panel of judges at the #DisruptMining 2019 live finale taking place around the PDAC event in Toronto, next month.

The trio includes companies looking at a new drilling approach that can unlock the value in narrow vein deposits; a unique way of training artificial intelligence (AI) to autonomously operate a mineral processing facility; and an Internet of Things application that increases the intelligence of belt conveyors used to transport material at mine sites, according to Goldcorp.

Todd White, Goldcorp Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Operations, said: “#DisruptMining continues to represent the best of innovation in the mining industry. These finalists demonstrate break-through thinking and help build digital momentum in mining. The industry needs to help accelerate the development of these kinds of technologies.”

After a technical review by a group from the University of British Columbia, shortlisted submissions were reviewed by senior Goldcorp representatives to determine semi-finalists and finalists for #DisruptMining, Goldcorp said. The three finalists pitching their disruptive technology to the panel of judges are:

  • Anaconda Mining, a TSX-listed gold mining company operating in Atlantic Canada, has developed an innovative, two-stage drilling method that enables economic mining of narrow-vein deposits, according to Goldcorp. The technology, known as Sustainable Mining by Drilling (SMD), was developed in collaboration with Memorial University of Newfoundland. Goldcorp said: “SMD has the potential to unlock value in existing deposits that were previously thought to be uneconomic to mine using traditional underground or surface mining methods. The developers also expect this technology could extend the life of current operations by allowing safe excavation to occur beyond the limits of current designs”;
  • ANDRITZ, a leading supplier of machines and automation solutions worldwide, has developed a unique and continuous way of training artificial intelligence to operate a mineral processing facility using ANDRITZ’s digital twin, Goldcorp said. “The AI is trained to respond to a variety of situations, making it capable of adapting to changing inputs and improving upset recovery time,” Goldcorp said. The trained AI’s ability to quickly process information and recommend data-driven solutions will allow for the improvement of the operation, such as start-up and shutdown, and assist operators to achieve plant-wide optimisation, and;
  • Voith Turbo, a division of Voith GmbH & Co KGaA, whose IoT application BeltGenius (pictured) creates a digital twin of belt conveyors which provides real-time insight into the behaviour of the operation. “Resulting from a constant learning system, this information is used to identify potential risks and inefficiencies, allowing for greater uptime, more efficient energy use, predictive maintenance and optimisation of weight and speed,” Goldcorp said. With BeltGenius, mine sites can operate their belt conveyors with greater control and consistency, increasing their savings on repairs and material transportation costs while reducing the environmental impact of traditional haul trucks.

Deciding the fate of the three finalists will be Ian Telfer, Chair of Goldcorp; Katie Valentine, Partner at KPMG Australia and Global Head of Mining Consulting; Sue Paish, CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster; Jacob Yeung, University of British Columbia student and #DisruptMining UBC Captain; and returning #DisruptMining judge Wal van Lierop, President & CEO, Chrysalix Venture Capital.

Co-hosted by KPMG, the #DisruptMining live finale will take place on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto during the PDAC convention. Each finalist will present a short pitch video followed by a Q&A with the judges, in front of a live audience of nearly 600 people, demonstrating how their concept or technology has the potential to #DisruptMining.

In addition to finalists, six semi-finalists will showcase their technologies at the #DisruptMining Innovation Expo. The Expo will take place on Sunday March 3, 2019, at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto.