Tag Archives: Gavin Wood

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.

Telstra LTE solution improving communications at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine

Telstra Mining Services says it has implemented Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile network at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine.

The next generation wireless communications platform will allow for greater levels of safety, remote operation and automation, according to Telstra, which worked with Newcrest to provide design, staging, site deployment and testing of the network.

Every kind of production vehicle asset, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges have now been connected and operationally proven over LTE. This process has revealed significant performance improvements in terms of reliability, speed and latency, according to Telstra. “The network has been able to resolve challenges with existing Wi-Fi connectivity and is making Newcrest’s safety and productivity systems more effective,” Telstra said, adding that fleet efficiency and real-time visibility have benefited from an 80% improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.

The gold deposit at Lihir is within the Luise Caldera, an extinct volcanic crater that is geothermally active, and is one of the largest known gold deposits in the world, according to Newcrest. Most of the ore is refractory and is treated using pressure oxidation before the gold is recovered by a conventional leach process.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2018, Lihir produced 955,156 oz of gold. Since production commenced in 1997, the site has produced more than 10 Moz of the yellow metal.

Dr Jeannette McGill, Head of Telstra Mining Services, said Newcrest’s decision to invest in Private LTE technology further validates it as a dependable and scalable networking platform for the mining industry and one that enables mining houses to digitally transform.

“We’ve provided Newcrest with a tailored platform that will underpin its safety and digital mining ambitions and will help improve productivity and deliver new value and efficiencies to the business,” she said. “They’ll be using it to further modernise the mine site to enable the use of current and future mining applications, including tele-remote and autonomous systems, more extensively.”

The platform is completely independent from public mobile networks, according to Telstra, with Newcrest having been provided with its own dual-frequency base stations, LTE core and SIM cards, with the network’s configuration and coverage designed and implemented to meet the Lihir mine’s safety strategy and long-term mine plan.

Telstra Mining Services’ solution also includes ‘HetNet’ functionality that allows the Newcrest vehicle fleet to seamlessly switch between LTE and existing Wi-Fi networks without impacting critical mining applications.

Newcrest complemented the LTE technology solution by implementing new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site, according to Telstra.

McGill added: “Newcrest and Telstra Mining Services took what has become a best-in-class preliminary deployment approach with the network. Designing it for full production but initially deploying at two sites allowed Newcrest to validate the design principles, implementation techniques and practical capabilities of LTE before scaling their investment.”

Newcrest’s pragmatic approach, combined with flexibilities in the solution from Telstra Mining Services, enabled the desired outcomes and learning to be achieved within a relatively short timeframe, despite the remoteness of the Lihir operation, according to Telstra. Future phases of the project will further enhance coverage in-line with Lihir’s 20-year mine plan, and provide for expansion of coverage and capacity across the mine, processing plant, port and camp.

Chris Jordaan, General Manager, Newcrest Lihir, said: “The Lihir mine extends 300 m into a volcanic crater and our workers can often be exposed to elevated temperatures. Tele-remote and autonomous mining technologies are fundamental to working the hot work areas that will become more dominant features of our operation in the future.

“The Private LTE network will be a great enabler for these technologies and, coupled with the existing in-pit Wi-Fi network, we have been able to create a heterogeneous network that covers the whole mining lease.”

Gavin Wood, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Newcrest, said: “Safety is Newcrest’s number-one priority and the network Telstra Mining Services has built with us at Lihir will enable safer and more efficient mining using new technologies. The success of this project was 100% driven by leadership and personal commitment of the Lihir’s OT/IT team working together with Telstra Mining Services.”

LTE is a future-ready platform for wireless communications in mining, providing dependable and scalable communications that the next generation of machines, systems and workforce applications will require. Having been proven in carrier networks, it’s now seen as the mining industry’s next step for connectivity.