Tag Archives: Global Mining Guidelines Group

Autonomous drilling transition sets IAMGOLD’s Essakane up for longer mine life

The roots of IAMGOLD’s automation ambitions at the Côté gold project in Ontario, Canada, can be traced back to remote and auto drilling developments at its 90%-owned Essakane mine in Burkina Faso, which, according to a recent presentation from Zhi Jun Zhu, has resulted in significant operational benefits.

IAMGOLD launched the first automated drill rig in West Africa with assistance from Epiroc back in February at Essakane. This followed a series of automation steps carried out on the company’s fleet of Epiroc PV235 blasthole drills, beginning with the ‘Operator Assist’ phase back in 2016.

Added to the seven PV235 blasthole drills on site are five Sandvik D45KSs. These drills are working in medium-to-hard material of 100-250 Mpa rock where they drill 229 mm and 152 mm diameter holes on 10 m benches. They come with a single pass limit of up to 12.2 m in down-the-hole drilling mode.

The business case for adopting automation at the site, which began operating in 2010 and was expanded in 2013 to reach a mining capacity of 55 Mt/y, was centred around a capex versus opex dynamic – should the company purchase a new rig to increase drilling performance by 15%, or try to increase the use of automation on its existing seven PV235s to hit this goal?

Alongside this, the company wanted to provide its best drillers with the ability to operate multiple rigs simultaneously, enhance operational safety, support continued sustainability, and improve performance and productivity.

Zhu, who worked at Essakane as Technical Services Coordinator for five years prior to his current role as Autonomous Systems Engineer at Côté, explained during the recent GMG-led Autonomous Drills Virtual Forum: “During the start-up of the mine, the required fragmentation size was difficult to achieve because the ore was coming from the soft area where it was highly weathered and fractured. As the mine depth increased, the material got harder. As a result, the blasting fragmentation became harder to achieve. At the same time as the percentage of hard material increased, productivity of the crusher became a concern and bottleneck.”

With the last life of mine study in 2018 showing a required increase in the total material mined to keep up an average gold production rate of 400,000 oz/y – and the requirement to strip hard material from phase four, five, six and seven to reach a new ore zone from 2026 – the company needed to embed a suitable level of blasthole drill automation in advance of another expansion in the mine life.

Prior to 2016, Essakane required two people to operate a PV235 – one to guide the machine to the desired location and another to operate it.

This was neither safe or efficient, Zhu said, adding that hole deviation and sub-optimal fragmentation were also common with this setup.

Breaking down the project key performance indicators after the initial ramp up of remote and autonomous operation, Zhu said the company was looking for:

  • An improved drilling penetration rate of 15%:
    • 23 m/operating hour (propel + setup + drill); and
    • 28 m/drilling hour.
  • Improved drilling productivity from 63% to 75%:
    • Eliminate stoppage delays associated with lunch and shift change;
    • Lean drilling, less propel/tram and setup/positioning time.
  • Increased drilling capacity from 81,714 to 108,800 drilling meters/rig/year.

Having progressed from the ‘Rig Operator Assist’ mode in 2016, which used Epiroc’s Rig Control System, Surface Manager, Auto Level, first generation AutoDrill module, and Hole Navigation; the company has progressed to the ‘Rig Remote Operation’ phase where (Multi) Remote and AutoDrill generation two functions are employed.

This second-generation system represents a “big advance”, Zhu said.

“The system is very smart and could continuously optimise the engagement to deliver the desired result,” he said. “The only manual input required is the ‘aggressiveness’ setting, which balances the bit life with the penetration rate.”

This led to the launch of its first fully automated drill rig on February 8.

While the project is on course to hit all the above-mentioned KPIs, there have been other benefits including an operating hours improvement of 645 hours/year/rig; a 14,835 m/year/rig drilling metres gain; a $356,040/rig incremental annual production benefit; and a net cost saving of $202,794/rig compared with the equivalent rental equipment drilling cost.

All of these add to fewer people being in dangerous areas on the mine site – with all operators in remote operating centres – more consistent operation from a fuels/lubricants and drilling consumables perspective and, of course, less maintenance.

Reflecting on the implementation, Zhu noted several key required inputs for a successful automation implementation program.

“It is a critical requirement to have a reliable network connection between the on-board device and the remote operations office,” he said.

On top of this, the sensors on the machines need to be kept in top shape, meaning maintenance teams should evaluate their health on a regular basis and always keep spare parts available.

And, while fewer people will be needed to oversee drilling in autonomous mode, the skills level of the required personnel will be that much greater.

Some of the next steps at Essakane include improving the bandwidth and latency time for real-time control of multi-automated drills, developing a preventive maintenance system checklist, and carrying out a business case study on upgrading four PV235s to either Teleremote/AutoDrill 2 operation.

Zhu will no doubt bring these learnings and opportunities to the Côté gold development in Canada, which is expected to operate six blasthole drills in fully autonomous mode when ramped up, alongside more than 20 fully automated haul trucks. These will help the mine reach an average production rate of 367,000 oz/y of gold.

GMG examines functional safety in mine automation with latest guideline

The Global Mining Guidelines Group’s (GMG) latest guideline on autonomous systems will “provide clarity on the expectations between the various parties involved in delivering automation to mines”, Gareth Topham, one of the guideline project co-leaders, says.

“Whether it be fully autonomous or semi-autonomous, there are degraded modes or unexpected situations that people deal with every day in mines,” Topham, Principal Functional Safety at Rio Tinto, says. “To manage the removal of a potential control and introduce a technical solution as an alternative, we have to apply functional safety principles to confirm we are reducing the risks as much as we reasonably can.”

The GMG’s ‘Guideline for Applying Functional Safety to Autonomous Systems in Mining’ provides a common approach to applying functional safety to autonomous systems and references international standards within the context of the mining industry and its current maturity, according to GMG. It also describes clear expectations for the communication requirements to support change management and effective application.

“Functional safety is an important industry challenge as adoption of autonomous systems grows,” the GMG said. “While autonomous mining is an opportunity to remove people from potentially hazardous situations, there are also residual risks. Automatic protection systems in a mining environment need to respond to various kinds of errors and changes in conditions, such as human error, software failures and operational/environmental stress.”

To help readers navigate these risks, this guideline begins by identifying important reference materials and listing standards relevant to applying functional safety to various aspects of autonomous systems, the GMG says.

The core content of the guideline is an example of a functional safety lifecycle for applying autonomous systems in mining and identifies some key expectations and responsibilities for providing information, documentation and support at each stage. It also offers high-level guidance on software development, verification, and validation; competency management; cybersecurity; and assurance documentation, according to GMG.

Industry alignment on the expectations and requirements related to functional safety is also a key goal for this guideline.

Andrew Scott, Principal Innovator at Symbiotic Innovations and GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups, says: “Experts from a wide range of stakeholder groups – suppliers, consultants, operators, regulators and system integrators – have been engaged in this guideline’s development and extensive peer review. The engagement in this project has been an excellent example of how traditional competitors can come together to create a safer future through the GMG community.”

Because functional safety for autonomous systems in mining is a rapidly evolving topic, this guideline is expected to evolve and add any appropriate detail over time to align with new and updated standards and consider emerging concepts and technological advances.

A separate GMG project on system safety is also ongoing and will complement this guideline by addressing adjacent topics such as safety case and risk management, human factors, integration, and verification and validation, GMG says.

GMG launches cybersecurity and electric mine working groups

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) says it has just launched two new working groups on cybersecurity and the electric mine to create safe and sustainable mines of the future.

The Cybersecurity Working Group aims to help mining stakeholders as they look to design safe, secure, reliable and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure that adheres to regulatory, trust, and privacy best practices, GMG said.

The group is to provide guidance for the industry to access and implement existing solutions, be responsive to the priorities of the industry, and look for projects that will benefit from GMG’s open, collaborative principles and processes, it added.

“As digitalisation increases in our industry, so does the risk of cybersecurity incidents,” says Andrew Scott, GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups and Principal Innovator at Symbiotic Innovations. “Industry-wide knowledge sharing and collaboration are important for mitigating these risks.”

Scott added: “The topic has come up in many existing GMG projects including those on autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and interoperability, and it is clear that cybersecurity is a high-priority concern among mining stakeholders.”

The group will work closely with the Mining and Metals Information Sharing Analysis Centre (MM-ISAC) to collaborate on and identify existing projects and prevent duplication, according to GMG.

The Electric Mine Working Group, meanwhile, aims to accelerate the advancement and adoption of electric mining technologies in underground and surface contexts. It will cover all-electric technologies that are replacing those that typically use diesel.

Key objectives include developing guidelines and sharing information on using and testing electric technologies and designing electric mines.

GMG Managing Director, Heather Ednie, said: “The shift toward the electric mine in surface and underground contexts is indicative of our industry’s growing commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and providing safer working environments.

“Previous GMG work on battery-electric vehicles in underground mining brought together a community of companies leading the way in developing and adopting electric mining technologies. As these technologies are increasingly used in surface mines, the need to expand the community has become clear.”

This group will work in parallel with the International Commission on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and its Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative to ensure that the initiatives support each other, GMG explained.

Once launched, these groups will form a steering committee to refine the scope and objectives and identify early projects, GMG said.

The Cybersecurity Working Group will have its introductory virtual meeting on November 11. The kick-off workshop is to define what the industry needs from a cybersecurity perspective; it will be held at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA. on December 5, held in partnership with the MM-ISAC.

The Electric Mine Working Group will have its introductory virtual meeting on November 21.

The mining industry’s guiding hand

Ahead of the WA Mining Conference & Exhibition, in Perth, Western Australia, IM spoke with Michelle Ash, Chair of the Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), on mining guidelines, the industry’s rate of technology adoption, automation and, of course, interoperability.

Given that Ash is due to sit on a panel discussion titled, ‘The future generation of mining – who, what, when and where’ at the event on October 15, the conversation was very much forward looking.

IM: The development of mining guidelines has been a big focus for you in your work with GMG. Outside of the existing working groups GMG already has in place, where, in the next three to five years, do you see the need for future industry guidelines to ensure mining companies and their employees can leverage new technology?

MA: Our mission at GMG is to work collaboratively with industry and help speed up its rates of change. The guidelines are one of our main products, but we are involved in two others.
One is education where we bring the mining industry (mining companies, suppliers, consultants, academics/academic institutions, regulators and governments) together on topics. Blockchain is a good example of that; we’ve had our members raising the use of blockchain as an issue for the last couple of years – some have not known what the use cases might look like or even the full capabilities of the technology.

An example of the second product is what we have recently carried out in the tailings dam space…where we initially looked at who was doing what in the public arena worldwide. From this, we created a database of that activity with the intention that our members should, first, engage with work that is already being conducted. We are now trying to think through how we codify that data. In this regard, part of the way we will speed up innovation in the mining industry is not only through collaboration, but also making sure we leverage industry work that has already been completed.

Then on the guidelines, we have covered battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), automation and communications systems. We’re currently going through the process of devising a guideline on interoperability and functional safety, too. In the next few months, we will start working with our members to define what ones to pursue from 2020 onwards.

IM: What might these future guidelines look like?

MA: At our leadership summit this year, we will be talking about climate change and how that is going to impact the mining industry. Thinking about the workforce of the future is another potential avenue for future guidelines. That is on top of some of the more futuristic topics like blockchain provenance tracking, changes to business models, etc.

IM: What is likely to push most mining companies into increasing their uptake of new and disruptive technology? Will operational, regulatory, social or technical changes have the biggest influence?

MA: It’s going to be a combination of these, but risk reduction will definitely come into it – a lot of mining companies still feel technologies are risky whether that is in their implementation, operator acceptance, cost, etc. There is a myriad of risks associated with changing the way you do things and investing in technologies. A lot of that risk is, at least, reduced through collaboration; creating a bigger market and being clear on what products we want and how we develop the business cases, produce products and then implement them. That dynamic will evolve as mining companies get more used to implementing some of these new technologies and working with their people in a more agile way.

That said, I do think the rate of social change being driven through technology – the way we interact, get information, perceive and interact with the world, and how all of that continues to change social expectations – is accelerating. That cycle is putting more and more pressure on all companies, not just miners, to, for example, continually reduce their environmental impact (greenhouse gas and diesel emission reductions, for example). There is also an ever-increasing pressure for governments and communities to get greater amounts of wealth from their resources. In addition, investors are changing their thinking – what we used to call ‘impact’ investors are now almost considered ‘mainstream’.

There are a whole series of pressures that will be put on mining companies to make substantive changes to the way they do things and that will link to de-risking the way they implement new technologies.

IM: Looking at regulation, what are the major technology trends that will be influenced by incoming legislation, and where is this new legislation likely to come in first?

MA: A lot of governments – and I have recently spent most of my time in Canada, Australia and Europe – are thinking about how they reduce their environmental impact. Many of them have various greenhouse gas and climate change challenges, and I think aspects of these will find their way into legislation. That could be future reductions in diesel usage/emissions or energy usage (especially as it pertains to diesel, coal, etc). That means the electrification of industry and mining, specifically, could be impacted by regulations.

One of the reasons why I am keen to get more regulators involved in the GMG is because sometimes, in aspects of certain technology, the regulations are behind the technology use cases/implementations. As a result, there is a really great opportunity for industry and government to work hand-in-hand and get those regulations developed faster so some of these technologies can be implemented in a way that meets community, as well as industry, needs. I think drones, automation and robotics have all fallen into this category.

On automation specifically, the Western Australia Mining Department has led the world in thinking about and applying legislation around automation. That is in part because Western Australia is where a lot of the automation use cases started. There is a great role for them to show other regulators how these regulations could translate in their own regions. For instance, I spend time with Canadian Provincial Governments, and they are very keen to learn from what Western Australia has done in this arena. I think the Nordics – Finland and Sweden, especially – have also shown some great examples of how to create sandboxes and multi-industry collaborations for such technologies.

IM: Is there anything from a technology perspective stopping mining companies creating a fully autonomous operation?

MA: The challenges with automation are related to how to coordinate and control all autonomous equipment on a mine site in an integrated fashion. That is why we, at GMG, are pushing so strongly for greater interoperability so we can, say, connect Cat trucks with Boston Dynamic robots and some OffWorld swarm bots, operating them all on the one mine under one system. From a technology perspective, that is yet to be refined and developed; we can automate pieces – for example, trucks on surface, or trucks and scoops working together underground – but we can’t go beyond that.

IM: Interoperability has been holding back technology uptake for decades; are we close to a tipping point when it comes to solving this problem?

MA: While we have been talking about interoperability for decades, we haven’t had the really fast communications systems we have today with the likes of 4G and LTE. We also haven’t had the plethora of sensors or the computing power and storage via cloud computing. The latter is a big part of the puzzle as mining companies were using on-premises software for so long for their computing needs, which creates limitations.

I think we are starting to see some movement from the OEMs around interoperability and this whole open innovation concept. There has been wider acceptance across the mining community that open innovation creates competition, instead of stifling it. The interoperability work we are doing is starting to prove that.

Cat, for example, has just announced a partnership with IOSoft to upload the data from a lot of their machinery so it can be interpreted and analysed, etc. That is a move forward in terms of creating open data platforms.

IM: Lastly, with the advent of machine learning and AI, what do you see happening in the future with roles such as the geologist, metallurgist, engineer? Will mine site teams in, say 10-20 years, be dominated by data scientists/engineers, as opposed to personnel with these traditional skillsets?

MA: Going forward, we will have a much more diverse skillset on mine sites. I don’t think the geologist, metallurgist, or mining engineer – that knowledge base – will be completely replaced. Even in 50-100 years, I see that human ingenuity still being required. But I do think, in the next five, 10, 20, or so years, artificial intelligence and machine learning will help augment what we currently do.

For example, as a geologist, you spend a lot of time uploading data, manipulating geological models, etc. You spend far less time pondering what it all means or analysing the best way to obtain and evaluate that data based on what you already know and understand. Similarly, a lot of mining engineers spend time running numbers and changing small pieces of design and calculating the myriad of knock-on changes, as opposed to running numerous mine engineering scenarios.

What machine learning and AI will do is free us up from a lot of the mundane work carried out now and allow us to spend much more time on the analysis and contemplation side of the business.

GMG expands AI and automation focus with new projects

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has launched new projects in the fields of artificial intelligence and autonomous equipment to ensure mining companies can best leverage these technologies.

The ‘Open Data sets for AI in Mining’ project will be used for building open data sets to advance AI research and development, while the ‘Autonomous System Safety’ sub-project (under the Functional Safety for Autonomous Equipment project) looks to deliver valuable context and education on system safety, GMG said.

As GMG states: “Open and curated data sets can enhance the ability to build meaningful solutions for the industry by providing typical data relating to assets or operations for training and testing models and improving benchmarking and research by offering an alternative to proprietary data.”

The open data sets project will seek to leverage what the wider AI community has learned over time and ensure the approaches used in the mining domain are consistent with best practices, it added.

In terms of deliverables, the GMG is hoping for three core outcomes. Namely, a register of suitable candidate data sets, a set of guidelines for the collection and curation of these data sets and a set of repositories of gathered data.

“AI research and progress in many spheres has benefited hugely from having a set of public and curated datasets,” GMG said. “This has allowed for developers and researchers to have suitable data to test and train their models on for a variety of applications. Even more importantly, it has provided data which can be used to benchmark various solutions and allow for effective and fair comparison, as well as allowing for research to be repeated and validated.”

The ‘Autonomous Safety System’ sub-project, meanwhile, covers overall system safety. It will be a white paper to “provide valuable context and education on system safety, its history in other industries and how to deliver safe systems that can be operated effectively”, according to GMG.

The GMG said: “An outlook that expands the focus from functional safety to system safety will enable improved outcomes to the delivery of autonomous mining systems because:

  • To ensure functional safety, autonomous systems need to perform their functions correctly;
  • A technological system and its design within the operating environment can influence human performance;
  • Delivering and benefiting from complicated and complex systems requires addressing the behaviour of their interactions;
  • Cybersecurity risks affect all aspects of autonomous system safety; and
  • A full picture of system safety is needed to achieve a balance of operations, reliability and other associated disciplines.

Mining industry players come together to form new interoperability forum

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), following its inaugural mining interoperability alignment roundtable two weeks ago in Perth, Australia, has come together with industry participants to launch an interoperability organisations taskforce.

This group will work toward fleshing out a detailed roadmap and develop a way of illustrating how all the pieces fit together, the GMG said.

GMG stated: “Interoperability is a priority for the mining industry and there are many ongoing projects, guidelines and standards being developed for it.”

The roundtable was designed to accelerate progress and enhance collaboration between organisations working on interoperability. It brought organisations working on different aspects of the issue – both inside and outside the mining industry – together to increase the visibility of ongoing interoperability initiatives and to prevent duplication of efforts, according to GMG.

Representatives from AMIRA, CSIRO, Enterprise Transformation Partners, GMG, IIC, ISO, Interop, IREDES, METS Ignited, and MI4 presented on their initiatives and discussed ways to move forward collaboratively.

GMG said: “The roundtable confirmed the need for coordination and knowledge sharing among organisations, and participants recognised that interoperability is a vast issue. While their projects focus on different aspects of interoperability, there are overlaps and many are interconnected in some way.”

GMG Managing Director, Heather Ednie, commenting on the breadth of what was presented, said: “We’re further ahead than we might think. Once the pieces are put together, you can see that there is a lot going on in an effort to solve interoperability challenges.”

Exposure will be just as important as coordination in ensuring these initiatives achieve their full potential, GMG said.

To foster this collaborative environment, these organisations and others working on the topic will form the interoperability organisations taskforce.

Among the participants, Ednie says, “There was a very strong willingness and appetite to work together”, also noting that many of these organisations and initiatives are backed by the same companies, so coordination is in their best interest as well.

This roundtable is part of GMG’s Interoperability and Functional Safety Acceleration Strategy (IFSAS), launched in early 2019 with support from BHP and Rio Tinto. This strategy aims to facilitate collaboration and accelerate progress on interoperability and functional safety. The interoperability component of this strategy also involves coordinating industry alignment on a direction and vision for interoperability through communication and engagement. These efforts will be directed by a steering committee comprising key stakeholders.

GMG makes first interoperability steps with draft guidelines

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published a new report describing “principles, priorities and a vision for commitment” based on content from the draft GMG Interoperability Definitions and Roadmap guideline.

It presents a consensus of the industry’s vision and direction for interoperability gathered through interviews and workshops with 17 mining companies on six continents, GMG said, adding that the draft GMG Interoperability Definitions and Roadmap guideline is the result of many workshops held over the last two years with over 120 participating companies.

“Interoperability is the key to success in automation, digitalisation and integration initiatives and achieving the sustainability, safety and productivity benefits associated with them,” it said. “As an industry that is becoming increasingly digital, poor interoperability presents growing challenges. Interoperability cannot be solved in a vacuum and coordination and alignment are needed to enable interoperability on a global scale.”

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, said achieving mining company alignment on priorities, vision and guiding principles for interoperability was a “logical first step” as miners are the ones most immediately affected by the safety and productivity challenges associated with poor interoperability.

“A clear, unified voice from mining companies will provide the input mining equipment, technology and services companies and industry organisations require to adapt and develop new tools and processes effectively.”

She added: “This alignment will provide a foundation for building improved communication and collaboration between all stakeholders to drive the industry forward.”

This report is part of GMG’s Interoperability and Functional Safety Acceleration Strategy (IFSAS), launched in early 2019 with support from BHP and Rio Tinto. This strategy aims to facilitate collaboration and accelerate progress on interoperability and functional safety, according to GMG.

This working document will be updated based on continued industry communications and engagement. The company said: “Through IFSAS, GMG is facilitating further engagement based on the priorities and principles drafted in the report.”

More mining companies will be solicited for their input in this, with an IFSAS steering committee also established to drive international collaboration and accelerate “value realisation across the industry”, GMG said.

GMG says it is also engaging with other organisations working on interoperability initiatives, both inside and outside the mining industry, to improve visibility and prevent duplication of effort. A roundtable of organisations working on different aspects of the issue will be held in Perth, Australia, this week to drive this collaboration, it said.

The full Interoperability Alignment report is available here.

The Electric Mine charges on to Sweden

Following the success of the inaugural Electric Mine event in Toronto, Canada, in April, International Mining Events has wasted no time in confirming the 2020 follow up; this time in Stockholm, Sweden.

Taking place at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel on March 19-20, 2020, The Electric Mine 2020 will be even bigger, featuring new case studies from miners implementing electrification projects and presentations from the key OEMs and service suppliers shaping these solutions.

A leading hub in Europe for mining equipment and innovation, Sweden was the obvious choice for the 2020 edition of the event. Miners including Boliden and LKAB have already made electric moves above and below ground, and the north of the country is set to host Europe’s first home-grown gigafactory, the Northvolt Ett lithium-ion battery cell facility.

Sweden and Finland also play host to Europe’s major mining OEMs such as Epiroc, Sandvik, Metso and Outotec (soon to possibly be Metso Outotec Corp), and the Nordic region has a rich mining innovation legacy.

Capacity crowd

The announcement of the 2020 Electric Mine edition comes hot on the heels of a hugely successful debut in Toronto.

With the Radisson Admiral, on Toronto Harbourfront, filled out to capacity, the circa-150 attendees were treated to more than 20 world-class papers from miners Vale, Goldcorp (now Newmont Goldcorp), Kirkland Lake Gold, Boliden and Nouveau Monde Graphite; OEMs Epiroc, Sandvik, Caterpillar, Volvo CE and BELAZ; and equipment and service specialists Siemens, ABB, GE Transportation (a Wabtec company). Presentations from Doug Morrison (CEMI), Marcus Thomson (Norcat), David Sanguinetti (Global Mining Guidelines Group), Erik Isokangas (Mining3) and Ali Madiseh (University of British Columbia), meanwhile, provided the R&D angle delegates were after.

The event was a truly global affair, attracting delegates and exhibitors from Africa, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America, all eager to hear about developments across the sector.

Bigger and better

International Mining Events is upping the ante for 2020, increasing the event capacity to 200 delegates and making plans for a possible site visit to witness electric equipment in action.

Talks from several miners, as well as global international companies, will again underpin the 1.5-day conference program, which will also expand to cover the use of renewable/alternative energy within the field.

There will, again, be opportunities for sponsorship and exhibiting, with several companies already in discussions about booking the prime opportunities for the event.

If you would like to know more about The Electric Mine 2020, please feel free to contact Editorial Director, Paul Moore ([email protected]) or Editor, Dan Gleeson ([email protected]).

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you in Stockholm!

GMG publishes new short interval control guideline

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) says it has published the Guideline for Implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) in Underground Mining Operations.

SIC is a structured system in which data from mining processes are periodically reviewed and action is taken in response to them, GMG explained. “This guideline provides a roadmap to increase the speed and likelihood of success during SIC implementation while avoiding common pitfalls.”

Specifically, the publication presents a conceptual model of what SIC could look like that includes an operational framework, detailed workflows, and an outline of data enablement at various levels of maturity, according to GMG.

SIC has only recently begun to be used in underground mining, although it has a long history in the manufacturing industry.

GMG said: “One challenge in implementing SIC is tailoring it to the operation at hand because underground mining conditions can be unpredictable, but the guideline offers mining stakeholders a base of knowledge of how it can be applied.”

Greg Sandblom, Operation and Business Technology Lead at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore Company, says the guideline “can provide a valuable reference to mining companies during all phases of SIC deployments at existing mines or new mine projects”.

He continued: “It can effectively act as a checkpoint to validate that lessons learned and experience from leaders across the mining industry are applied to their implementations.”

Lisa Önnerlov, Development Engineer – Industrial Design at Boliden, said there was potential for the application of the guideline for those already using a SIC system.

“Even though we have been working with SIC for many years, we still have a lot to improve,” she said. “We face challenges like refining the overall coordination and to take advantage of new technological possibilities and make it useful in reality. We hope that this guideline will be a tool for both benchmarking and as a common reference in collaboration with other mining companies working with SIC.”

SIC has the potential to increase productivity and lower costs, according to GMG. As the practice becomes more common, it will, in turn, become increasingly accessible, according to Gordon Fellows, President of Fellows Mining and Digital Solutions.

“Achieving the greatest benefit from SIC comes from monitoring and controlling the shortest interval, but results are possible even at lower levels of maturity and at lower cost,” he said. “As technology evolves, it will make it simpler and less expensive to reach higher levels of maturity.”

One highlight of the process of developing the guideline, according to Liv Carroll, Senior Principal, Mining Transformation and Applied Intelligence at Accenture, has been the input from and cooperation between various stakeholders in the mining industry.

Carroll said there had been “effective collaboration between operators, service providers, consultants and technology specialists alongside the GMG team; our industry working as one for the benefit of all”.

She added: “In working together, we have drawn on a breadth of global and diverse experience to amalgamate leading practices into the guideline considering all levels of maturity and allowing for future evolution.”

Looking ahead, implementing SIC offers great potential for positive change in the industry because it facilitates better planning, quicker decisions, increased production, lower costs and creates a safer working environment, according to GMG.

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, says: “I am very excited to see the publication of the SIC guideline because it is not only the culmination of a lot of work from many people, but also a fundamental building block for the transformation of our industry. I am looking forward to visiting mines post implementation and seeing the case studies that arise from their efforts.”

GMG strengthens mining innovation ties with SME partnership

Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) have announced a strategic partnership to “drive increased openness in the mining industry”, GMG says.

“The SME-GMG partnership will enable SME members to maintain a leadership position in the global mining community,” GMG said, adding that it has similar agreements with other mining organisations as a key strategy to building and strengthening the global mining innovation network.

GMG Executive Director, Heather Ednie, said: “The future of mining requires greater collaboration, increased openness and sharing across the industry, and a willingness to embrace new technologies and practices – that is the premise of GMG. And, we need leadership level participation from the US mining community to be successful – and SME represents that community.”

As part of this collaboration, SME will become the official partner on all GMG events held in the US as of 2020.

SME Executive Director, David L Kanagy, said: “The United States is one of the leading mining nations in the world, home to many large mining companies as well as key mining suppliers, both traditional and non-traditional.

“This partnership will enable SME members to participate in global innovation collaboration and ensure that the US has input into international guidelines development.”