Newcrest Mining’s Lihir operation in Papua New Guinea has commissioned an improved Temperature Measuring Unit (TMU) that, it says, further enhances safety for personnel working at its geothermally active open-pit operations.
This second generation TMU, called Anako Sense, follows the commissioning of the Anako 13 prototype on March 6, 2018, at Lihir. The unit engineers out the risk of personnel exposure to geysering events during drill hole measurement activities, according to the technology developer Olitek Mining Robotics (OMR).
Anako 13 allowed geothermal technicians to operate a mobile arm from the vehicle remotely, while simultaneously lowering or raising a probe safely to measure and record temperature, water level and depth within blastholes. It was designed to mechanise this quality monitoring process in the open pit, removing operators from danger and putting them in the safety of an air-conditioned cabin.
The Mark 2 machine just delivered to Lihir provides faster than manual cycle times, while eliminating fatigue, repetitive strain injury and exposure risks, according to OMR. It also provides real-time data capture of borehole quality measurements.
Newcrest teams collaborated with several business partners to deliver the Anako Sense unit early this year, allowing geothermal technicians to continue carrying out their work safely as Lihir’s mining pit phases extend deeper and further north into Kapit orebody, the miner said.
Lihir Manager – Mine Technical Services, Ben Likia, thanked various Newcrest teams and business partners for delivering the project safely and ensuring a timely site deployment of Anako Sense, including training sessions for key personnel.
“I also congratulate our national employees who completed their training sessions,” he said. “We have competent geothermal personnel who are now operating the new TMU, and several mobile maintenance personnel who will assist in ensuring the TMU is regularly maintained and fit for purpose.
“The safety of our people in Lihir is our number one priority, and this improvement is testimony to that. We are committed to ensuring everybody goes home safe and healthy every day.”
While Anako Sense has obvious applications at mine sites with geothermal hazards like Lihir, the technology’s appeal is much broader, according to James Oliver, OMR’s Managing Director.
“Anako Sense could be used and applied at any mine operating in freezing cold conditions, at high altitudes, located in inland deserts, or around voids,” he said. “The quicker we get people off the bench and into safe vehicle cabins, the better off the industry will be. The development of Anako Sense will help that transition.”
Lihir Superintendent – Geothermal Operations, Kaipale Pano, said the enthusiasm and feedback from the project team and personnel had been heartening.
“The project is a success for Newcrest Lihir because we (Newcrest) encourage employees to experiment with new ideas to improve safety and production performance,” he said. “We displayed Newcrest’s practice – ‘Bottom-up Innovation’ – and values – ‘Working Together’ and ‘Innovation and Problem Solving’ – through this project.
“We are proud to have the best people and outstanding operators, mostly Papua New Guineans, who constantly team up to deploy safe and latest mining technologies at Lihir.”
The name Anako was inspired by an incident at Lihir nine years ago. In 2013, Samuel Ayata, a Geothermal Technician from Eastern Highlands and Morobe, sustained injuries from geysers when collecting blasthole data. His father, Ayata Anako, collapsed upon receiving news about the incident and was bedridden for almost three weeks, pleading with his son to quit his job.
Ayata said: “The scars on my body were a drive for our team to take on this safety initiative and continue improving it; we named the TMU after my father. I thank Newcrest for supporting our commitment to work safely for our families.”