Tag Archives: Maestro Digital Mine

Dwyka and Maestro showcase robotic mobile gas sensing solution at Indaba

Dwyka Mining Services, an authorised reseller of Maestro Digital Mine, has used the 2022 Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa, to premier a new robotic solution that is fitted with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor.

Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot, equipped with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor, can be operated on mine sites to detect hazardous gases like carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger, the companies say. Ventilation and mining teams will easily be able to add different gas sensors onto the connected Zephyr Air Quality Station, capturing critical environmental data to proactively identify gas or temperature challenges, according to the companies.

Dwyka and Maestro have invested over 10 years of effort and partnership in Africa, all predicated on improving worker safety and productivity in the African mining industry.

Jamie van Schoor, CEO of Dwyka Mining Services, says the established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors is allowing both companies to establish mobile technology for broader applications.

“We’re very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend, Spot,” he said.

Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise is an agile mobile robot designed to navigate all types of terrain, allowing organisations to automate routine inspection tasks, capture data securely and safely, and allow for streamlined operations in complex and dangerous environments, the companies say.

Using the Spot Enterprise on-board processing the data is shared wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and gas and temperature sensor readings are captured while the robot is in operation and displayed in real-time via the Maestro Link™ Server application. With the addition of a SLAM scanning unit sensor, like the Emesent Hovermap, readings can be saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software packages, the companies say.

Michael Gribbons, CEO and Co-Founder of Maestro Digital Mine, said: “Collaborating with our mud-in-boots partner, Dwyka Mining Services, who are always pushing the envelope with technology integration with pioneering brands like Boston Dynamics, is in turn pushing us to innovate and collaborate with our core purpose of enhancing lives by the pursuit of productivity and safety excellence. This relationship will open up immediate opportunities to Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro in Africa and extend mobile environmental monitoring to our current installations at over 170 mines in 38 countries globally using our patented edge-based IIoT sensor technologies once the solution is fully embedded.”

van Schoor added: “We are excited about extracting value from ‘no-go’ and ‘fly low’ mining areas typical at the majority of narrow reef mining operations in southern Africa where the use of enterprise GPS-denied drones become limited. The Spot Enterprise package allows us to access confined spaces and this information could be used to undertake remote gas inspections so that we can accelerate re-entry to target getting ore to surface sooner without comprising safety.”

Mining Indaba delegates are able to see Spot ‘in the metal’ with a Zephyr AQS at booth 908 at Dwyka Technology Showcase Co.<LAB’s booth in its custom see-through kennel, ready to deploy and dock back onto its charging station ahead of its next mission.

With Spot set to perform a number of ‘tricks’ from the stand, the four-day conference will involve experimentation with a series of partner payloads. These devices that can be attached to Spot, extend the robot’s ability to capture and process data, acting as remote sensing devices this will allow Spot to hear, see and smell in a virtual capacity.

Rethabile Letlala, Operations Director Dwyka Mining Services, said: “Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data ‘on the go’ by extending our remote sensing capability to ‘smell’ for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting.”

Maestro heads for the IoT edge with new future-proofed solutions

Driving out capital expenditure and standardising IIoT infrastructure have been the two key pillars propelling Maestro Digital Mine forward, and, 10 years after its formation, these two drivers are on show with its latest launches at the SME MineXchange Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City.

Over the last decade, the company has become synonymous with improving underground mine ventilation safety as well as reducing blast re-entry times, with an offering that includes air quality stations, automated regulators, and “fail-safe” LED displays. Yet, Maestro’s core is IIoT devices and last mile digital networks for underground mines.

Michael Gribbons, CEO and Co-founder for Maestro, says the company’s production of “IIoT solutions” pre-dates the popular use of this acronym, with its big launch in Salt Lake City set to take Maestro into new “edge-based” territory that will allow it to cope with multiple communication protocols or artificial intelligence-led process miners look to leverage over the next decade.

He explained to IM: “We have re-envisioned and redesigned both our hardware, embedded firmware and external software to allow greater flexibility and capabilities for today and the future; the platform, if you will.”

This current hardware platform has, among other things, underpinned the success of its Vigilante AQS™, which was created to solve applications for mine ventilation monitoring and control.

“Every year, Vigilante customers kept asking for different capabilities, and we have said yes to these requests until we couldn’t.” Gribbons said. “We ran out of hardware space – we just couldn’t do the things the clients were asking anymore, forcing a major platform redesign that is now shipping.”

This constant cycle of improvement has already led Maestro into the realm of dust monitoring and regulator control. It also saw the company devise products and solutions that eradicated the need for expensive PLCs, customer panels and fabrication. Its plug-and-play philosophy, in turn, has reduced the amount of engineering required to install and monitor these solutions.

“For example, legacy analogue actuators are now being driven out of the equation by coupling ModuDrive™ actuators to automate regulators allowing significant capital expenditure reductions and improved diagnostic monitoring by using edge-based embedded IIoT technologies,” Gribbons said. “The mining industry is following other industries by applying modular construction where proven solutions can be selected and applied instead of the typical one-time custom engineering design and build where individual components are collated and customised on an individual basis. The main advantages of applying modular construction is schedule acceleration and capital expenditure reduction.”

Gribbons sees the new platform – a combination of hardware, user interface, on-premise and cloud-based software allowing data to be stored and trended by the customer as they choose – being able to take advantage of “true edge-based technology” to make better and quicker decisions.

The new platform installed on the Vigilante AQS, SuperBrite™ Marquee display, MaestroFlex™ regulator and ModuDrive actuator are on display at the SME conference.

Looking past the fixed automation infrastructure Maestro has made its name on, the company is now embedding its expertise into more mobile solutions that the industry has been taking a liking to, namely drones and unmanned robots.

Also featured on the Maestro stand – and the Exyn Technologies stand – at the event is an aerial drone with a Maestro gas monitoring IIoT device fitted on it.

This new gas monitoring drone, which will integrate critical gas sensors onto the ExynAero™ and ExynPak™ platforms, is, effectively, the “quickest and safest mobile gas monitor on the planet”, Gribbons remarked. “The drone is able to automatically launch and log targeted gases directly on the point cloud in any confined area without deploying mine rescue personal with Scott Air-Paks. Again, we are improving worker safety and accelerated time to obtain accurate data in emergency conditions or for more granular data at the headings for reducing blast re-entry times.”

Powered by ExynAI’s multi-sensor fusion capabilities, gas sensor readings are captured while the robot is in flight and displayed in real-time via a ruggedised tablet, Exyn explained. These sensor readings are saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software.

These mobile applications will remain a minority interest for Maestro, but it offers the company another way to influence the underground mine safety dynamic and ensure it stays loyal to its “we leave no one stranded” brand promise.

Such collaborations are nothing new for Maestro. Just last year, it teamed up with Howden to integrate its IIoT solutions into the Ventsim CONTROL ventilation optimisation software, while, in 2020, it brought the Plexus PowerNet™ last mile communication network to MacLean Engineering’s Sudbury test mine and Dynamic Earth’s educational mine to enable continuous connectivity underground.

Gribbons said the company has also just worked with Spain-based Zitron on designing large 4 x 4 m MaestroFlex™ regulators on underground booster fans at a major gold mine in Canada.

All these partnerships are part of the company’s recipe for success.

“We’ve progressively eliminated elements of underground mine automation infrastructure to simplify and allow for the future automation of mining,” Gribbons said. “This is working; the clients continue to return, and we stay true to our core purpose of enhancing lives by the pursuit of productivity and safety excellence.”

Matrix to bring Maestro’s Plexus PowerNet to US mining market

Matrix Design Group is to introduce Maestro Digital Mine’s Plexus PowerNet™ networking system to the US market following the signing of a distribution agreement between the two companies.

Plexus PowerNet, the first coaxial-based gigabit network, provides both data and power over a single cable, according to Canada-based Maestro. The system delivers a high-speed, low-latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ power to Access Points, cameras and any other IP-based devices, it says.

The Plexus PowerNet coaxial cable carries both power and network connectivity, eliminating the need to run both fibre and power to new network devices. The system can also extend a fibre-optic-based system from the fibre patch panel at any level as needed. Plexus PowerNet eliminates the need for costly outside fibre-optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any mine personnel, Maestro says.

Chris Adkins, Sales/Business Development, Matrix Design Group, said: “For a mining application, Maestro gives mines the ability to have high-speed data and power without the technical and time constraints of running a fibre network to the face of the mine. Of course, the maintenance requirements of fibre are complex, but Maestro has reinvented the high-speed data network, allowing delivery of real-time data and power combined into one durable coaxial cable that’s easy to install, maintain and repair.”

The Plexus PowerNet is a backbone network system that can be used in mines with or without a fibre-optic network, Maestro says.

“Supporting existing underground infrastructure, Plexus provides network connectivity to new and existing IIoT devices and automation technologies,” the company said. “It enables the digital mine and connected worker for: autonomous and tele-remote vehicles; telemetry to drills, loaders and support equipment; support for short interval control and connectivity to tablet and smart devices; IoT sensors, such as environmental and seismicity; Voice over IP; augmented reality; asset tracking; PoE+ based IP cameras and PoE+ LED lights for paste fill; and PLC connectivity. Plexus is an enabling technology for the digital mine.”

Michael Gribbons, Co-founder and CEO, Maestro Digital Mine, stated: “The collaboration with Matrix Design Group is an essential part of expanding our reach into the US market with a team that understands the value of our digital network solution and how it aligns with the mines in the area. Bringing digital solutions, such as the Plexus PowerNet, online enables worker safety, increased production and reduced costs; all of which are vital to Maestro and Matrix.”

Maestro Digital Mine makes connections in Latin America

Maestro Digital Mine’s Latin America expansion is gaining traction, with the Sudbury-based company recently landing sales from major gold mines in Argentina.

Its flagship Industrial Internet of Things measurement and control instrumentation solutions, such as the Vigilante AQS™ and Zephyr AQS™ air quality monitoring stations, and the Plexus PowerNet™ last mile communication platform, are designed to provide the visibility and communication miners require to keep up productivity and improve safety while operating at increasing depths

Having successful launched these products in over 130 mines, in more than 20 countries around the world, Maestro started its strategic outreach and market research in Latin America last year.

Maestro’s says its distribution channels are vital to its success in this area and, as part of the Maestro sales team, provide valuable feedback, access and service to potential clients in Latin America.

This strategy saw it partner with associations that assist with market research and business-to-business meetings, such as the Mine Connect (formerly SAMSSA), and the Northern Ontario Export Program led by the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) and Mining Suppliers Trade Association (MSTA), as well as secure four new distributors/agents in the key mining hubs of Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico to support this growth.

This investment is already starting to pay off, with the company recently landing significant contracts across the region.

In Argentina, Yamana Gold’s Cerro Moro mine, in the Santa Cruz province, is installing the Plexus PowerNet solution. This delivers a high speed, low latency digital communication network that provides “PoE+ power” to Wireless Access Points, cameras and any other IP-based device, Maestro said. The system eliminates the need for costly outside fibre optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson, according to Maestro.

Cerro Moro, an open-pit and underground gold-silver operation, poured its first gold and silver doré back in May 2018 and, up until recent COVID-19-related restrictions hit mining operations, was expected to produce 117,000 oz of gold and 7.5 Moz of silver in 2020, according to the miner.

In that same province, Maestro has also installed the last mile communication solution at Newmont’s Cerro Negro mine. This operation includes five underground mines (Eureka, Mariana Central, Mariana Norte, San Marcos, Bajo Negro), one open-pit mine (Vein Zone) and one cyanide leach processing facility that yields gold recoveries of 96%, according to Newmont.

In Mexico, Maestro has installed Vigilante AQS – air quality monitoring stations in Peñoles mines. Peñoles, a subsidiary company owned by Grupo BAL, is the second largest Mexican mining company, the top Mexican producer of gold, zinc and lead and a world leader in silver production.

Coeur Mining has, meanwhile, installed and integrated the Vigilante AQS and MaestroLink software into its Mexican mines. This includes the Palmarejo silver-gold complex. The miner continues to expand Maestro’s digital solutions on each new level of its Mexico mines, Maestro said.

Maestro concluded: “With the support of our distribution partners, we are proud to be enabling worker safety and productivity in the mines of Latin America. It is through a collaborative model that Canadian suppliers can impact positive change in the global mining industry.”

Quebec miners shut down operations following COVID-19 government order

The latest provincial government-mandated restrictions to address the COVID-19 situation have seen miners down tools at operations in Quebec, Canada.

Announced on March 23, the order was for the shutdown of all non-essential businesses and services for a period of three weeks, starting on midnight on March 24.

While mining was listed as one of the priority services, those in the mining sector have been instructed to minimise activities.

Yamana Gold, which along with Agnico Gold Mines’ jointly owns the Canadian Malartic mine (pictured), said it would ramp down operations at the mine following discussions with representatives of the Government of Quebec to “obtain additional clarity in regard to the order”.

The operation, Canada’s largest gold mine, will be on care and maintenance and minimal work will be taking place until the date specified in the order (April 13), it said.

Yamana said it was demobilising employees and contractors in a safe and orderly manner, leaving only a small number of employees on site to maintain property and equipment and oversee all environmental responsibilities and obligations.

“A return to full capacity at Canadian Malartic is expected to occur in an expedited manner as soon as the temporary restriction is lifted,” it said.

Yamana’s partner, Agnico Eagle Mines, also announced its LaRonde Complex and Goldex Mine, in the Abitibi region of Quebec, would be ramped down in an orderly fashion while ensuring the safety of employees and the sustainability of the infrastructure.

“Each of these operations are to be placed on care and maintenance until April 13, 2020, and, as instructed, minimal work will take place during that time,” the company said.

With its Meliadine and Meadowbank mining operations in Nunavut being serviced out of Quebec, it said it will also slow activities there.

Eldorado Gold, meanwhile, has temporarily minimised operations at its Lamaque underground mine until April 13.

As of today, it will ramp down operational activity and maintain only essential personnel on site responsible for maintaining appropriate health, safety, security and environmental systems, it said.

“The company remains committed to resuming operations in a timely manner once the suspension is lifted,” Eldorado Gold added.

The news came on the same day it announced the receipt of a Certificate of Authorization from the Quebec Ministry of Environment to allow for the expansion of underground production from the Triangle deposit at Lamaque from 1,800 t/d to 2,650 t/d, once operations resume. This expansion could see annual average gold production rise to 170,000 oz, from close to 130,000 oz.

Hecla Mining has also slowed operations at its Casa Beradi gold mine in the province, with the company saying it will have limited operations in place to protect the facilities and environment while the suspension is ongoing.

Rio Tinto, which operates aluminium operations in the province, said it was working with the government to comply with its directive.

“Rio Tinto understands that the Quebec government has designated industrial complexes including the aluminium sector and the mining industry as essential industries but instructed that they must reduce their business activity to the minimum,” it said.

Over the border in Ontario, there has been a more mixed response to the COVID-19 situation, led by the provincial government taking a different tack to politicians in Quebec.

Some mines, such as Kirkland Lake Gold’s Detour Lake operation and Wesdome Gold Mines‘ Eagle River complex, have reduced the amount of workers on site, whereas others like Newmont (at Musselwhite) have put operations into care and maintenance mode.

Ontario’s government has issued a similar notice to its neighbour about non-essential businesses, but its definition is different.

Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products, including metals such as copper, nickel and gold, and that support supply chains in northern Ontario including mining operations, production and processing; mineral exploration and development; and mining supply and services that support supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety, are all considered ‘essential’.

This extends beyond mining companies, too, with Maestro Digital Mine one of the recent Ontario-based suppliers to confirm it was “deemed an essential service”. It said it would continue to provide support to the underground mining sector, “keeping miners safe with gas sensors and airflow sensors” during this time.

Maestro Digital Mines’ Zephyr AQS leaves its mark at CIM convention

Maestro Digital Mine has used the backdrop of the CIM Convention and Exhibition, in Montreal, Quebec, to launch its latest digital industrial internet of things (IIoT) solution, the Zephyr AQS™.

Maestro’s Zephyr AQS is a compact, low cost environmental air quality monitoring station for underground mines. It is an IIoT device that connects directly to an industrial network without the requirement of adding an expensive and complex programmable logic controller (PLCs) and several analogue-based instruments, the company said.

“Since it is a digital device, not only are the real time environmental conditions reported back to surface via a single ethernet connection, but all the advanced diagnostic data is available too, assuring maximum uptime,” Maestro said.

Michael Gribbons, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Maestro Digital Mine, said at the launch event: “The Zephyr AQS was developed to satisfy 75% of all the air monitoring requirements of a modern mine. Airflow rate, airflow direction, gas levels, barometric pressure and wet/dry bulb temperatures can be measured in real time and, now, affordably.

“The Zephyr AQS is designed for any mine aiming to increase production, improve miner worker safety and reduce energy by monitoring and controlling ventilation air in an underground operation. The first step of working to control ventilation is the requirement of measurement. Only then can you start to understand and drive value to increasing production by getting the miners back to the face quicker and safer. Or, reducing the energy demand by providing enough ventilation air to the areas of the mine that need it and reducing air to the non-working areas of the mine.”

Like all Maestro solutions, the Zephyr AQS is a fully digital solution that can be plugged into a network switch without the requirement of PLCs, PLC cabinets and all the associated wiring, terminations, software and complex labour for integration into the network, the company said.

“Based on direct customer feedback, Maestro’s digital products save mining companies, on average, 40-60% of capital expenditure compared to conventional monitoring solutions,” Maestro said.

“All Maestro solutions are provided with lifetime, free firmware updates. The full savings to mining clients is in the range of 70-80% over the full life cycle with no hidden hooks or costs to bear in the OPEX maintenance cycle.”

The new Zephyr AQS air quality station features three fully configurable sensor inputs that can be freely mixed and matched according to the customer’s requirements. Like the Vigilante AQS™, the Zephyr AQS will be configured through built-in webpages similar to that of a home network router, according to the company.

All the sensors connected to the Zephyr AQS electronics are digitally supported by the way the Zephyr AQS communicates over the mine’s network using standard network protocols. Maestro fully supports both of the two most popular network communication protocols – Modbus TCP/IP and EtherNet/IP™. Alternately, the Zephyr AQS offers on-board analogue outputs (3 x 4-20 mA) and two relay outputs to tie into legacy systems.

David Ballantyne, Vice President of Development and Technology, Maestro Digital Mine, said: “The Zephyr AQS is considered the baby sister of the Vigilante AQS. Both provide plug and play sensors and both are fully digital. However, the Vigilante AQS supports seven plug and play ports versus three for the Zephyr AQS. The Vigilante AQS also provides four complete Proportional – Integral – Derivative control loops to allow it to run autonomously in the event of network failure. It can also integrate up to 24 RTD sensors used in primary fan and booster fan applications.”

The Vigilante AQS was created to solve 100% of the applications for mine ventilation monitoring and controlling, Maestro said, however solving all the applications with a single device adds extra costs for most of the simpler requirements.

Maestro has supplied over 120 mines globally with this equipment. “We recognised that a lighter version would be adequate for many of the mines price sensitive markets such as Latin America and Africa,” it said.

Maestro has 100 units sold, pre-delivery, from three existing hard-rock mining customers in Canada, the US and Spain.