Tag Archives: Highland Valley Copper

Teck leverages Nanozen tech to improve occupational health at mine sites

As part of its work towards eliminating occupational disease, Teck has completed a pilot project using an innovative combination of on-the-ground data and video technology to help better understand potentially harmful dust exposures at a task level.

The Nanozen pilot project, completed in 2020, was devised to understand task level exposures so the company could “laser focus” critical control strategies to reduce employee exposures.

As the company says, occupational exposures that can give rise to occupational disease represent the single most significant health and safety risk in the mining industry globally.

The large-scale pilot project it carried out, which included its Greenhills, Fording River, and Highland Valley Copper Operations, was funded by Teck’s Ideas at Work program. The pilot program leveraged the power of advanced analytics to collect real-time exposure data for job roles including pit crews, mechanics and equipment operators.

Exposure to dust at mine sites is a potential health and safety hazard, leading to respiratory diseases if proper precautions are not taken, Teck says. For years it has been industry standard to rely on daily sampling methods, averaged over the length of a shift, to determine dust exposure. These sampling methods provide one value indicating an employee’s overall dust exposure for a shift.

By making use of Nanozen’s real-time monitoring technology, Teck says it has been able to greatly improve the collection of information about dust levels during a work shift. Instead of a single value for an entire shift, it can now monitor live, accurate information on the concentration of dust exposures.

An overview of the instruments and tools deployed for the Nanozen pilot project

“This has enabled us to better understand how and when these exposures occur, and to target controls that reduce exposures from higher-risk activities,” the company said.

In 2020, the Nanozen pilot project was initiated at sites to deploy this technology into a wide range of roles including field and shop mechanics, pit utility and cable crews, bulldozer and grinding operators, and laboratory workers involved in sample processing. Teck’s Occupational Health and Hygiene team leveraged advanced analytics, diving deep into the data to find meaningful results and actionable changes, it said. This increased volume of research data, the company says, has helped it pinpoint the specific activities and times where dust exposures occur and prioritise approaches to mitigate them.

Dan Sarkany, Lead, Occupational Hygiene at Teck Coal, said: “Applying analytics to real-time particulate monitoring helps us determine exactly which activities lead to high dust exposures, allowing us to recommend and implement targeted controls to improve employee health and safety.”

This pilot project coupled Nanozen real-time dust monitoring technology with on-site video recordings and video analysts trained to recognise job activities. The footage collected maintained confidentiality and privacy by blurring faces and skin tone, and no audio was recorded. Teck said it had the full support of its workforce to undertake this work.

Corrine Balcaen, Director, Occupational Health & Hygiene, said: “This project represents a leading health and safety initiative in the mining industry and other industries with dust exposures.”

Real-time dust monitoring, and the targeted controls developed as a result of the learnings, will continue to be implemented throughout its operations going forward, the company said.

“This technology serves a key role in improving exposure controls and working towards Teck’s goal of eliminating occupational disease,” it added.

In 2019, Teck employed Nanozen’s real-time dust monitoring technology at Greenhills as part of a study looking to gain detailed, real-time data on dust exposure levels throughout a typical haul truck driver shift.

This is an edited version of the story that first appeared on Teck’s website, here.

MineSense senses further mining commercialisation opportunities in 2021

MineSense, having continued the introduction of its transformative technology into mines in 2020, says it is well positioned to dramatically ramp up commercialisation of its sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions in 2021.

The company’s solutions are focused on improving mine profitability by taking advantage of the maximum heterogeneity at the face to increase ore recovery and minimise waste processed, it says. “This profit improvement is even more critical as mines work to recover profits lost due to COVID-19 impacts in 2020,” it said.

MineSense started the year by closing a $25 million equity financing led by BDC’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund to ramp up commercialisation and further expand operations globally.

It followed commercialisation at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper mine, with commercialisation of three new ShovelSense® systems at Copper Mountain Mining’s Copper Mountain mine, in British Columbia, Canada, in 2020. MineSense said it has been embedded into the mine’s operating practices and is included as an enabling technology in their latest NI 43-101 Technical Report.

In this report, Copper Mountain said the system’s primary goal is to direct the right material to the right destination; that is, ore to the primary crusher and waste to the waste dump.

It said the two-year evaluation period with MineSense hardware and software on three of its five loading units at Copper Mountain Mine had accomplished two objectives:

  • Selective recovery of economic copper ore from defined non-economic rock – approximately a 4% improvement; and
  • Selective rejection of non-economic rock from defined economic copper ore – approximately a 4% improvement.

MineSense’s global growth has been  supported by local field services teams who normally work at mine sites. COVID-19 presented new challenges including restricted site access, but the MineSense team overcame this, executing the first remote installations of ShovelSense systems this year.

“The flexibility and innovation by our field services and customer’s operations teams was instrumental for us in going live with multiple operating systems in Chile and Peru,” MineSense’s EVP Business Development, Claudio Toro, said.

The MineSense ShovelSense System improves orebody visibility bucket by bucket in real time during the loading process, according to the company. Trucks are then automatically diverted to the correct location, increasing value and revenue realised during the mining process. The technology also creates reductions of CO2 emissions per tonne of ore produced, consumption of processing chemicals and reagents, energy and water, while maximising metal recovery.

Frank Hoogendoorn, Chief Data Officer at MineSense, said: “We are excited to provide mines with new, data driven capabilities for sorting ore and waste. Our sensors and on-board machine learning based algorithms provide real-time bucket grades at the earliest point in the extraction processes, which enables mines to extract ore more precisely and optimise downstream processes at a resolution that previously was out of reach.”

To support mine site operations and their ore decision making, MineSense now provides 24/7 data room technical support for continuous monitoring of all elements of system performance. To track value creation, customers access their data through MineSense’s Client Portal. “This consists of data- rich visualisations of ore/waste diversions, real-time grade data and operational diagnostics,” the company says. “This information assists grade control engineers and metallurgists in mine planning, downstream operations, and overall reconciliation.”

MineSense President and CEO, Jeff More, said the mining industry was undergoing a transformation in technology and, “through its technological innovation, MineSense is able to build upon the digital and data ecosystem and create visibility where it didn’t exist before”.