Tag Archives: Los Bronces

Anglo’s digital vision for Quellaveco takes shape with Epiroc autonomous drill rig arrivals

Anglo American’s automation plans for its Quellaveco mine in Peru are starting to take shape, with its first automated trucks having started up in “pre-mining” mode last year and now automation-ready drills on site ahead of first ore production later this year.

The company’s most digital and autonomous mine yet, Quellaveco is expected to produce 300,000 t/y of copper over the first 10 years of the mine from an orebody that currently has around 1,300 Mt of reserves.

In the company’s December quarter production results today, it said construction of the project was progressing to plan, with first ore mined in October and first copper concentrate production expected in the middle of 2022.

In the first half of 2021, the operation started up four of a planned fleet of 27 autonomous Cat 794AC haul trucks as one element in a range of technologies that will help to make Quellaveco Anglo American’s first 100% digital mine.

Anglo American plans to deploy a fleet of 27 autonomous Cat 794AC haul trucks at Quellaveco

Now, the company has drill rigs on site that, by the end of this year, should be fully integrated into its in-country remote operations centre. The rigs – six fully autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 351s and three tele-remote SmartRoc D65s – will eventually be overseen from this remote operations centre.

IM put some questions to Tito Cacho, General Manager of Quellaveco, to find out more about these rigs and what led to the planned automation leap at the mine.

IM: How did your experience with Epiroc on developing and implementing a new tele-remote drilling project at Los Bronces influence the decision to implement a fully autonomous drill fleet at Quellaveco? Did many of the people that implemented the Los Bronces project come over to Quellaveco?

TC: One of the objectives of Anglo American has been building a modern and fully digital mine at Quellaveco, incorporating the latest technologies to make this an even safer, productive and sustainable mining operation. A team of Anglo American engineers that were involved in the Los Bronces implementation have assisted in some aspects of the project in Quellaveco, bringing the benefits from our experience gained in Chile.

IM: What qualities does Quellaveco as an asset have in terms of applying autonomous drilling (aside from the fact it is a ‘greenfield mine’ you can design around automation)?

TC: We believe that Quellaveco will set a new standard. Through our experience with automation, the industry is driving towards safer and more reliable operations. This can make a significant difference not only to the mining operations itself but for our stakeholders who increasingly demand more sustainable operations.

Our team has been developing processes and procedures to build autonomy into the operational culture from day one. We are developing multifunctional skills in our operators and technicians, so that they learn about new roles and equipment operation, giving us the flexibility for people to work in any part of the process. The enthusiasm and willingness to learn and work with this new technology that we have seen in all the groups in Quellaveco has been an incredible asset.

IM: What other benefits stood out to you when evaluating fully autonomous drilling at the asset (safety, productivity, etc)?

TC: Safety is the primary benefit, and, as you know, is our most important value at Anglo American. We can distance an operator from areas of risk and put them in an environment that is safer, with less exposure to dust, noise and vibration. The operator becomes an autonomous drilling controller and is more comfortable and in a better ergonomic position. In addition, we have been able to improve the use, efficiency and precision of the equipment, and the ability to control multiple machines per person are notable benefits over manual operation.

Anglo plans to deploy six fully autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 351s at the operation

IM: How easy is it to implement fully autonomous drilling operations in Peru from a regulatory perspective? How does it compare with other countries?

TC: Anglo American’s approach is engaging with regulatory authorities from the beginning, and that is what we have done in Peru. We believe our stakeholders see the advantages of having a modern and fully digital mine operating in the country, from a safety, efficiency and sustainability perspective.

IM: How many rigs out of the “multiple” drill rigs you ordered from Epiroc will be autonomous? What does the timeline look like from here in terms of them reaching their capacity? When will their control and oversight be integrated into the remote operations centre?

TC: Quellaveco will have six Pit Viper 351s that operate fully autonomously and three SmartRoc D65s that operate in tele-remote (operator controlled from a distance with some autonomous functions). We aim to integrate full control and oversight of the drill fleet into the remote operations centre by the second half of this year.

Anglo moves Los Bronces Pit Viper drilling operations to remote operations centre

Anglo American has launched the first Epiroc Pit Vipers operating at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile to be remotely controlled from its Integrated Remote Operation Center (IROC) in Santiago.

These five drills are the first in Chile and Latin America to be operated from outside the designated mine site, with the company planning to have all five blasthole drills running by fully-autonomous means by 2022, Anglo American Chile said.

All five drills have automatic drilling systems, such as AutoDrill and self-levelling. These features allow the controller to set the target depth of a hole, with the machine automatically drilling, while the self-levelling function results in the machine automatically altering the hydraulics to level the equipment. The rigs are also fitted with a high-precision GPS system with automatic navigation system, which enables the drilling sequences to be carried out after the controller issues the relevant instructions.

The sensors and advanced control systems of this equipment allows the continuation of work routines with minimal human intervention, translating into increasingly safer operations, Anglo American Chile said.

These five rigs in question were previously operated from the Operational Management Room in the Los Bronces mine offices.

The automation initiative is part of a plan for the development and implementation of new technologies for mining at the Anglo American group level, all guided by the overarching FutureSmart Mining™ approach.

“With these innovations, the operation will become autonomous in its drilling cycles, without the intervention of an operator, manually or remotely, turning the operator into a system controller, and making this task much more efficient,” the company said (translated from Spanish).

Anglo has a 50.1% interest in the Los Bronces mine, which it manages and operates.

Anglo American renews clean energy plans in Chile

Enel Generacion Chile and Anglo American, this week, signed a contract that will see the mining company use only renewable electricity to power its Chile operations from 2021.

The contract, for a total consumption of up to 3 TWh/y, is the largest in its type for independent customers in Chile, Enel said.

Anglo, in Chile, operates the Los Bronces and El Soldado copper mines, as well as the Chagres smelter.

Paolo Pallotti, General Manager of Enel Chile, said: With our generation matrix, becoming cleaner all the time, we have the possibility of submitting more competitive and sustainable offers for our customers.

“We are the first renewable energies operator in Chile and we are convinced that promoting this type of energy, we go out to meet our customers and we make significant contribution to the country.”

Hennie Faul, Anglo American Executive Chairman for Copper, said: “We are working from different fields in order to contribute towards a healthy environment. Our objective is to continue reducing our emissions, and to achieve efficient operations that are more careful in respect to their surroundings.

“The signing of this contract adds to other actions we are undertaking along the same line, such as the installation of the first PV plant, built over a tailings pile and the incorporation of electric buses for the transportation of our employees.”

The agreement, signed today will take effect in 2021 and shall be in force for 10 years, Enel said.

Metso reduces downtime and improves safety in Kumba Kolomela crushing circuit

Kumba Iron Ore’s Kolomela mine in South Africa has reduced crusher liner replacement downtime and improved safety using a concave carousel and removal trays system provided by Metso, the mining equipment manufacturer reports.

Located in the Northern Cape Province, Kolomela contacted Metso for assistance in reducing its primary gyratory crusher concave liners replacement time.

The mine produces over 13 Mt/y of iron ore and is one of Kumba’s (majority-owned by Anglo American) largest operations in the country.

In mineral processing, crusher efficiency can be compromised over time, affecting production time and, most importantly, the safety of employees, Metso said. A major factor affecting crusher efficiency is the amount of downtime. The longer it takes to replace the wear parts inside the chamber of a primary gyratory crusher during a maintenance shutdown, the less uptime and, thus, less production. By reducing the number of lifts, the replacement can be done much faster and safer, according to Metso.

Kolomela approached Metso’s expert team to help it reduce the average downtime the operation encounters when replacing concave liners of their Superior SG60-110 primary gyratory crusher.

Metso’s Regional and Technical Support Manager Crusher Wears, Andrew Stones, said: “When the mine approached us with a request to help them speed up the process of changing the concave liners on the primary gyratory on site, they asked us to replicate the methodology that we once used at one of Anglo American’s major copper mines in South America, Los Bronces, which included the use of special tooling such as carousels and removal trays to remove the liners.

“Following the review of the Los Bronces system, we identified that we used different parts and installation methods not suitable for Kolomela’s operating model.”

Metso’s team looked at an alternative solution not only for different fixing arrangement on the carousels, but also changed parts. Instead of the mine having six rows of concaves to install, Metso reduced the rows to four. This minimised the installation time, according to Metso.

In addition to this, the team supplied Kolomela with removal trays – which enable a faster removal of the worn segments – as well as with modified attachments to help lift and install the carousels.

Metso’s solution has reportedly halved the downtime required for a concave liner change, but reduced downtime was not the only value add provided; the mine also reduced the injury exposure rate by 95%, according to the company.

Metso said: “Unlike the previous system that the mine used, which required people to be in the crusher when lowering each concave, Metso’s innovative carousel system provided optimised operating labour and safer installations. It is not dependent on human interaction.”

Kolomela’s Section Manager Engineering, Pieter Malan, said: “At Anglo American, we are unconditional about the safety of our colleagues. When the Metso team highlighted the safety element that the carousel methodology brings, it was indeed an added benefit and advantage. We understood, at that point, that Metso will also prioritise the safety and well-being of all individuals. There is no price on safety.”

Metso’s Vice President Mining, Africa and Middle East, Qasim Abrahams, said: “Previously, the Kolomela mine used 288 lifts to remove and install each concave liner; a process that has been identified as potentially hazardous work for the liner replacement team. Our new concave carousel concept reduced the lifts to 16, substantially improving both uptime and safety. The carousel allowed an entire tier of new concave segments to be lifted in place at once.”

Metso’s relationship with Kolomela was established in 2010, when the company provided the mine with the installation and commissioning of its crushers and the supply of original equipment manufacturer spare and wear parts. Other Metso equipment on site include two MP800 cone crushers and one MP1000 cone crusher.

Metso said: “The removal trays and carousel systems can be used on any primary gyratory crusher – Metso or third party.”

While this was a known and tested concept, this project required a completely new carousel and removal tray design and also new wear parts which included new concave liner design, patterns and trial castings, according to Metso.

Metso’s team of experts completed this project in six months, from customer order until delivery.