Tag Archives: Global Mining Guidelines Group

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.”

Analytics, data and security on the Austmine 2019 agenda

Austmine 2019 is set to delve into the future of analytics, data and security, key themes that are setting the agenda for the next horizon in the mining industry, according to event organisers.

Running from May 21-23 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Austmine 2019 will, organisers say, feature thought leaders from around the world, who will present their insights into the latest developments in digital efficiencies and live analytics systems, as well as how big data is leading to change across the industry.

“The topic of digital change is one which encompasses the entire value chain, with the optimised use of data leading to production efficiencies, while also having favourable human and environmental outcomes,” the organisers said.

For Austmine 2019, presenters will cover a broad range of perspectives, from mining companies, METS, academia and government.

One of the keynote speakers is Michelle Ash, Chair, Global Mining Guidelines (GMG) Group, who will examine the question: “Disruption is here: how will we harness it?”

Ash said: “I am really excited to be speaking at the Austmine 2019 conference and sharing with delegates how digital technologies are impacting mining around the world.

“There are some amazing advancements in other industries that are also applicable and exciting, but as always, the technology is only part of the challenge implementing them into our organisations, and driving the value and impacts of safety, the environment and productivity is key to the success.

“Delegates will also hear about some of the keys to ensuring that implementation of technology is successful, and how we can increase our rate of change as an industry.”

Other speakers slated to present include Rob Cunningham, Mining Operations Manager at CMOC Northparkes Mines, who will explain how the company is driving an Improvement Innovation Culture at its operations, which embrace the latest block cave mining technologies.

Rob Labbé, Director, Information Security, Teck Resources, will delve into cyber security – enabling the digital mine through cyber risk management and collaboration – while John Vagenas, Managing Director, Metallurgical Systems, asks the question – “Blue pill or red pill? Digital case studies within mineral processing.”

During his presentation, Vagenas is set to explore why so many companies are hesitant when it comes to digital transformation.

“Essentially, digital transformation is about turning data into information so as to gain full transparency into a plant’s operations,” Vagenas said. “For many companies in our sector, it can be an uncomfortable notion. Transparency isn’t always immediately popular, as it threatens how much control some people have over what is and isn’t reported. But, in reality, it can deliver such an enormous and rapid benefit that it’s madness not to make the transition.”

Joining this speaker line-up is Barry Elliot, Vice President, Enterprise Accounts: Heavy Industries, Rockwell Automation, from South Africa, to provide insights into improving mining value from operations data.

He is set to outline solutions around data collection, storage, visualisation and analytics, with a focus on the company’s scalable analytics approach, the FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, as well as applications of AR/VR for visualisation, according to organisers.

In addition to a focus on analytics, data and security, other key themes are set to include the human element of technology, intelligent equipment, sustainability, as well as integration and connectivity.

The two-day conference will be complimented by workshops, a sold-out exhibition, networking opportunities, the Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards and more, organisers said.

International Mining is a media sponsor for the upcoming Austmine event

GMG members devise mine automation guideline

The likes of Anglo American, BHP, Barrick Gold, Glencore, Newmont, Rio Tinto, Teck and Vale have collaborated on the Global Mining Guidelines Group’s (GMG) latest guideline on automation.

The Guideline for the Implementation of Autonomous Systems in Mining offers a broad view of the implementation of these systems, which are being used more and more frequently due to their potential for making the mining industry safer and more productive, according to GMG.

Christine Erikson, General Manager Improvement and Smart Business at Roy Hill, said the guideline “covers all aspects of operations, including people, safety, technology, engineering, regulatory requirements, business process and organisation models”. She added: “The guideline considers all perspectives in the industry, making it relevant and practical in implementation.”

The guideline provides a framework for mining stakeholders to follow when establishing autonomous mining projects ranging from single autonomous vehicles and hybrid fleets to highly autonomous fleets, GMG said. It offers guidance on how stakeholders should approach autonomous mining and describes common practices.

“More specifically, the publication addresses change management, developing a business case, health and safety and risk management, regulatory engagement, community and social impact, and operational readiness and deployment,” GMG said.

“There has been an incredible level of engagement in this project since its launch last year,” said Andrew Scott, Principal Innovator, Symbiotic Innovations, and GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups, who facilitated many of the workshops. “The industry interest reflects the growing importance and relevance of autonomous systems in mining and the industry’s need for a unified framework for mitigating risks and managing change while maximising the value of autonomy.”

Chirag Sathe, Principal, Risk & Business Analysis Technology at BHP – one of the project co-leaders alongside Glenn Johnson, Senior Mining Engineer, Technology at Teck – said the guideline is relevant even to those who have already embraced autonomy: “I would say that even though some mining companies have implemented autonomy, it hasn’t been a smooth ride and there are a number of lessons learned. This guideline would be a good reference material to everyone to look at various aspects while implementing autonomy. It is not meant to provide answers to every potential issue, but it at least may provide some guidance on what to look for.”

Erikson concurred, saying, “Roy Hill’s involvement has given greater insight into industry learnings that we have considered as part of our own autonomous projects.”

The guideline also promotes cooperation between the involved parties as a means of easing the implementation process, according to GMG. Andy Mulholland, GEOVIA Management Director at Dassault Systèmes, said: “Mining companies will need to rely heavily on their technology partners.” This guideline “sets down a great framework to be able to collaborate”, he added.

Sathe said: “As technology is moving very fast, guideline development also should keep pace with the change.”

As a result, the guideline will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, according to GMG.

GMG said: “Although implementing autonomous systems creates new challenges, such as changes to the workforce and the workplace, their successful deployment adds definite value, with improved safety and efficiency and lower maintenance costs. As more operations move toward the application of these technologies, this guideline will be an invaluable asset.

Mark O’Brien, Manager, Digital Transformation at CITIC Pacific Mining, said the process of developing the guideline highlighted “just how much there is to factor into deciding whether to implement autonomy, whether you’re ready for it and what the journey is going to look like.

“Having this all captured in a single, well-considered document is a terrific resource.”