Tag Archives: GMG

GMG tackles mine automation safety in latest whitepaper

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published the System Safety for Autonomous Mining white paper as it looks to provide a comprehensive view of the need for a “system safety approach” for mining companies deploying and using autonomous systems.

It also aims to increase awareness of the system safety and its benefits by providing education and context on safety management and the system safety lifecycle, the purpose and typical contents of a safety case, the significance of human-systems integration, and factors that influence software safety management, GMG says.

The white paper intends to addresses the use of autonomous systems within the mining industry, both surface and underground. It applies to all autonomous machines and to the integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous machines with manually-operated machines, as well as to complex integrated systems of systems across the mining industry. While it was developed with a focus on autonomous systems, most of the information is general and is also relevant to manual operations, GMG says.

Explaining the paper, GMG said: “System safety is a view of safety that extends beyond the machines to consider the complete system (ie machines, human factors, and environment, and the interfaces between these). The goal of system safety is to reduce risks associated with hazards to safety. It is a planned, disciplined and systematic approach to identifying, analysing, eliminating, and controlling hazards by analysis, design and management procedures throughout a system’s lifecycle. System safety activities start in the earliest concept development stages of a project and continue through design, development, testing, operational use and disposal.”

Chirag Sathe, Project Co-Leader and Principal Mining Systems at BHP, says: “With an ever-increasing use of technology in mining, particularly in surface mining equipment, it is important to understand the overall impact of systems implementation on safety. I hope the white paper helps to increase the awareness of this important emerging topic in mine safety, not only within mining companies but also for OEMs, technology developers and implementors.”

On the role of industry collaboration both in the development and intended use of this white paper, Project Co-Leader, Gareth Topham, says: “The white paper demonstrates that the mining community continues to see the benefit in collaborating to ensure the introduction and the ongoing operation of autonomous mobile equipment is done in a safe environment. It will enable discussions between all parties to pursue opportunities to improve the level of risk to safety by addressing the topics that are contained in the paper and improving on the communication that delivers a more holistic understanding of these systems. “

On the importance of this topic from an OEM perspective, Michael Lewis, Technical Director at Komatsu, says: “The adoption of autonomous systems in mining has been growing rapidly since the first Komatsu autonomous trucks entered into production in 2008 and it’s been exciting to support our customers as they expand use of autonomous systems. Safety has always been the top priority for our industry, and as the use of autonomy grows to cover more of the mining value chain it’s important that we look at the whole system it impacts.

“I applaud the truly collaborative work between mine operators, OEMs and other GMG members in the creation of this white paper,” Lewis adds.

As only an introduction to the topic, there will likely be future work to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety to autonomous systems in mining.

Andrew Scott, GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups and National Cluster Development Manager at METS Ignited, says: “GMG, as an industry-led organisation, is proud to have had the opportunity to facilitate this work with the global mining community. I look forward to the discussion this white paper will spark as well as further collaboration on the topic.

“I would like to thank all who provided their input and support.”

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.

Battery-electric vehicles dominate in GMG Electric Mine project survey

A survey aimed at defining priorities for the GMG Electric Mine Operational Knowledge Sharing Platform project has highlighted that despite the rise of other diesel-alternative technologies, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) continue to be the area of focus for the mine electrification community.

Respondents to the survey were asked about what types of equipment to prioritise, with haul trucks and LHD trucks coming up top out of all equipment and BEVs topping the results when it came to electric equipment types.

In terms of the latter, BEVs beat off competition from hydrogen fuel cells, trolley assist systems and tethered equipment, commanding more than three quarters of the votes.

GMG remarked: “Some commentators noted that this will be different depending on underground or open pit (eg BEVs underground, trolley for open pit), so this result may be skewed due to the large representation of underground mining in the survey.”

In the survey, performance was noted as the highest priority in terms of types of information that will provide value, GMG said.

However, the results of the workshops held under the project identified that there would be certain types of information that can be used to provide value in overlapping areas (eg they may help operations make performance comparisons and also identify operational or maintenance needs).

Highlights include:

  • Information about the daily cycle and time usage in comparison to diesel;
  • Identifying what information should be available in real time;
  • Information or metrics for comparing charging strategies;
  • Information for assessing and updating charging infrastructure;
  • Training information for operators, safety personnel and maintenance technicians; and
  • Information on heat generation.

And the following priorities were identified in the survey and workshops when it came to the uses of this information:

  • Understanding capital and operating costs;
  • Developing the business case;
  • Developing a charging philosophy and strategy;
  • Understanding safety requirements and improving safety; and
  • Understanding infrastructure, design and planning requirements.

The GMG noted: “These results may be influenced by the higher representation of underground mining professionals and that 64% of respondents are North American and similar representation at the workshops.”

The survey was open between April and June 2020 with 95 respondents (as of June 9). Underground mining was more heavily represented than surface, but many respondents specialised in both, according to GMG. Professionals (engineers, geologists, metallurgists, etc) were the most highly represented (26%) while corporate senior management (17%) and corporate technology leaders (17%) were also well represented.

The GMG Electric Mine Operational Knowledge Sharing Platform project aims to create a neutral platform to capture performance data for electric surface and underground equipment based on the industry’s knowledge and experience, GMG says.

Michelle Ash to become CEO of Dassault’s GEOVIA division

Dassault Systèmes says it has appointed Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) Chair, Michelle Ash, as CEO of its GEOVIA software division.

Ash will help shape strategy to build growth across the company’s Natural Resources sector, as well as deliver next-generation solutions based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which integrates all the technologies and capabilities that leverage knowledge and know-how into one “cohesive digital innovation environment”, according to Dassault.

Ash, who has been chair of GMG since May 2018, was previously Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick Gold. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the mining and manufacturing sectors with a focus on business improvement and change management.

It is not clear if she will continue her role with GMG following this appointment.

GEOVIA, meanwhile, became part of Dassault back in 2012 when the France-based company acquired geological modelling and simulation company Gemcom Software International. Dassault renamed the division GEOVIA shortly after the deal was completed.

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.

GMG helping miners leverage machine learning

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published a new whitepaper that, it hopes, will better equip mining companies to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technologies.

The Foundations of AI: A Framework for AI in Mining offers an overview of the process of planning for and implementing AI solutions for mining companies, GMG said.

GMG explained: “AI-based innovation is being used increasingly in the mining industry as a means to improve processes and decision-making, derive value from data and increase safety, but the levels of operational maturity are variable across the industry.

“Though many mining stakeholders are adopting AI, there is still uncertainty about the technology and how it can be harnessed in the mining industry.”

This white paper – developed collaboratively through workshops, conference calls and online collaboration tools – addresses a variety of concerns, such as the challenge of establishing data infrastructure, apprehensions about the effect on the workforce and worries about failure after investing substantial time and funds into an AI project, GMG said. “It offers a realistic strategy for building a foundation for planning, implementing and moving forward with AI.”

The primary audience is those in charge of introducing or expanding the use of AI in mining companies, according to GMG.

Rob Johnston, Project Manager at CITIC Pacific Mining and GMG AI Project Leader, says: “There has been a recent explosion in the application of AI in industry, and this document aims to assist mining companies to fully embrace this exciting technology and drive business value.”

Having this information available will also help cut through the hype that surrounds AI, according to GMG.

Andrew Scott, GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups and Principal Innovator at Symbiotic Innovations, said: “Although mining stakeholders generally recognise the value of understanding the technology, many are intimidated by the concept and see expertise in AI as a very specialised knowledge set, so this will help them start off on the right foot.”

This document will also be useful for those who are part of the ecosystem that surrounds mining companies, which comprises those assisting in applying the technology, culture and safety considerations and regulatory frameworks that are necessary for a successful AI strategy, according to GMG.

Speaking from his perspective as a solution provider, Kevin Urbanski, CTO at Rithmik Solutions, says the white paper will provide “current and future customers with a macro view of artificial intelligence and related solutions”, while helping mining operations to “identify opportunities to apply these powerful algorithms within their organisations.”

He added: “Mining companies know best what their needs are, and this document will help them match those needs with what’s possible.”

Urbanski thinks the document will also help to standardise communications around the technology, saying it will “provide great level-setting, ensuring that we and our customers are speaking the same language when talking about AI”.

Johnston, meanwhile, says that while this publication is an important step, the document will be reviewed and updated as needed: “The field of AI moves so fast that this will be a document that will be updated regularly in order to remain relevant to the industry.”

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.