Tag Archives: Maptek

Maptek looks back on 40 years of mining software advances

Maptek is looking back on its roots, 40 years after geologist Bob Johnson laid foundations for the company to become a leading provider of innovative software, hardware and services for the mining industry.

In the mid-1970s, Johnson opened a small bureau service above a row of shops in suburban Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, to computerise coal seam drafting. That venture was the precursor to Maptek, which today develops, sells and supports innovative mining solutions to more than 20,000 users worldwide.

In 1981, Johnson then formed a company to allow customers to do their own computer work. That became Maptek, which today employs 350 staff in 18 offices to support a customer base including the world’s biggest mines across more than 90 countries.

“The transformation from startup to global technology developer did not happen overnight,” Maptek founder Johnson acknowledges, as he reflects on what defines Maptek today. “Innovation results from many small increments – it rarely happens from an epiphany.

“We started off by computerising the plotting of boreholes and mapping of coal deposits, which, until then, was a very tedious manual process. People were asking if it worked for all commodities, not just coal, and I realised we needed to put the software in the hands of the users. This was how Maptek came about.”

Johnson states that Maptek sets and continuously strivers to hit a high standard.

“Early computing in the 1980s was the breeding ground for automating manual tasks and it was a challenge to convince some people to replace existing practices,” he said. “Tradition dies hard!

“Maptek integrated multiple steps in the computerisation of mining applications. In this way we were able to own the workflow and it’s probably key to why our first customer, BHP Coal, remains a customer today.”

He added: “Do something different and stay in front is a guiding principle that remains a key business value for Maptek.”

Fast forward to 2021 where CEO Eduardo Coloma is embracing the vision, with a long-term technology development roadmap to deliver state-of-the-art solutions and exceptional customer experience, the company says.

“Maptek intends to stay ahead by continuing to be a disruptive influence and affect change for the betterment of the mining industry,” Coloma says.

The new Mining 4.0 paradigm has five characteristics, according to Coloma.

“Vast amounts of data; delivering that data to the right people at the right time; efficient data storage and universal access to it; using technology for computationally-intensive tasks; and data-driven decision making…all need to be balanced,” he said. “Add to that the challenges that the pandemic unleashed!”

He added: “With challenge comes opportunity. Miners are continually on the lookout for smarter processes.

“Maptek was conceived 40 years ago at the start of the digital revolution. Customers today have an ever-growing appetite for technologies to enable digitalisation and automation. They are not afraid of new technology and look to us to lead them.

“It’s not just technology that is fast-evolving, the people and organisations who consume it must also be open to adopting new ways of working. Digitalisation has provided the conduit for data to be universally accessible and dynamically updatable.

“We want to make sure our customers get the most of their data, sharing it across the organisation in such a way that everyone benefits. Data is being democratised!”

A data-driven culture embraces systems which are robust, repeatable and user-independent, according to Coloma.

“Crucially these systems meet the needs of a mobile, shift-based and geographically dispersed workforce,” he said.

“We build technology solutions that allow our customers to turn their data into knowledge and use that knowledge to support business improvement. We provide an automated decision support ecosystem…they provide their individual experience and intuition to make that knowledge relevant to their business.

“Already we are exploiting machine learning and digital twinning to connect the planning cycle to production performance data for comparing performance against plans.”

With fewer barriers to extending technology within mines, companies are looking at the entire value chain to make improvements. Maptek can help connect processes, functions and data to enable more accurate, predictable and profitable operation of mines, it says.

In closing, Coloma explains why Maptek is well placed to help mining companies use their data as a bridge to continuous improvement.

“Our unique culture, instilled by our founder Bob Johnson, gives staff a great amount of freedom to be innovative,” he said. “It fosters imagination everywhere and is the key to continued success.

“We give our customers the freedom to dream and ask for solutions to their real world problems.

“Our enduring relationships with customers are hugely important in our ability to solve these challenges. Bob mentioned our first customer, who remains a customer today. But accepting that change is inevitable is a reminder to us not to rest on tradition.”

Maptek scanners, software boosts efficiency and safety at Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville mine

Maptek’s underground laser scanners and software have been helping geology and geotechnical engineering teams save time and monitor safety at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria, Australia.

At the underground mine, the geology team use two SR3 laser scanners and the PointStudio software for structural mapping and identifying structures.

“They primarily focus on scanning the ore drive development headings and then analyse the data and do the mapping in PointStudio,” Fosterville Project Rock Mechanics Engineer, Corey McKenzie, says.

The Maptek SR3 is a dedicated underground laser scanner, with a scan window of 130° vertically and 360° horizontally for capturing roofs and walls in tunnels and underground drives.

With fast accurate sensing and tailored mount accessories, the SR3 can be operated remotely from any web-enabled device and combines well with modelling software PointStudio for improving overall productivity and safety underground, Maptek says.

“PointStudio has a lot of neat tools,” McKenzie says. “Smart Query is useful for extracting joint set data, and the Distance for Objects feature can be used for fibrecrete thickness analysis.”

The geotechnical team uses ZEB scanners for convergence checks and it is, Maptek says, excited about the potential of Maptek workflows to streamline and save time in convergence monitoring.

The Workflow Editor incorporates software menu items, command line executables and scripting capabilities with Maptek Workbench tools and custom components to automate processes.

McKenzie says cloud-to-cloud comparison using laser scan data in PointStudio is all about safety.

“We want to know if the walls or backs are moving,” McKenzie said. “If we notice a spot that is starting to deform, we scan it more regularly so we’ve got that constant update of data and can track how it’s moving and the rate of deformation. We can then make decisions about rehabilitation. And we also need to know when our ground support capacity is going to be consumed.”

When PointStudio was introduced at the site this year, McKenzie found it relatively easy to learn, appreciating the visual layout of the options along the top ribbon, Maptek said.

The Fosterville geotechnical team is looking to expand its usage of PointStudio and expects the new scanline mapping tool in the latest version to help rockmass classification, according to the company.

“We’re just starting to explore the geotech/rock mechanics aspects,” McKenzie said. “Maptek is always willing to answer questions.”

The site also recently completed a trial of Maptek monitoring solution, Sentry.

“Now that we’ve tested Sentry and know its capabilities, we’ll be confident down the track if there’s an area that we want to monitor more closely,” McKenzie concluded.

Maptek closes mining value chain with new material tracking tool

Maptek says it has responded to the obvious need for a proactive approach to mine operations reporting with a new live material tracking tool.

Maptek MaterialMRT allows informed decisions to be made in-shift where and when they can make a real difference, the company says.

Mark Roberts, Maptek Group Product Strategy Manager, says the new smart resource tracking and modelling solution closes gaps in the mining value chain.

“MaterialMRT provides quality and quantity control of discontinuous material flows from in-situ rock to run-of-mine stockpiles and feed into the plant,” Roberts said.

It connects the resource model, short-term mine schedules, fleet management systems, survey data and feed quality analysers, according to the company. This should mean material quantity and quality delivered match what was planned, with access to current information around available material making this possible.

MaterialMRT dynamically tracks compliance to plan, reporting on how well the schedule is being met, and whether there are any unplanned movements of material, Maptek says.

“Enabling informed decision making at critical stages allows mines to optimise recovery, and accurately reconcile with the strategic mine plan and resource model,” the company said.

Material movement from pit to plant via the run of mine is usually via truck and shovel, with information from the block model typically lost at this stage, Maptek says. This impacts the bottom line.

Roberts highlighted other challenges facing operations, including poor plant utilisation and product quality; lack of optimisation, dump and rehandle compliance checking; poor resource model reconciliation; and inefficient stockpile management.

“MaterialMRT uses variable composition to model stockpiles, so material parcels carry the block model values right through the mining chain,” he said.

This fine-grained data modelling sets the Maptek solution apart from incumbent weighted average systems improvised using spreadsheets, it says.

MaterialMRT rapidly enables changes to be auto-adjusted, manually corrected, verified and approved, with an audit trail back to the raw values relevant to tonnes and grade. When more up-to-date information becomes available, it can be correlated and presented live to deliver meaningful insights and support value in-use decisions to address issues before it is too late, the company says.

“MaterialMRT, therefore, becomes a tactical planning tool for geologists and engineers,” Roberts said. “They control their per-shift reclaim and blending profiles to optimise feed into the plant, and can confidently deliver on final product, on time, every time.

“All stakeholders and management, from mine site or corporate office, can now identify and quantify the variability of material as it progresses through each stage of mining.”

Measuring and validating actual material movements at every stage during a shift is essential to better plan and manage material movement, according to Maptek.

MaterialMRT consists of a cloud-ready centralised server, web-based user interface and a database optimised for storing arbitrary time series geospatial data. Live dashboards and reports deliver high visibility to easily identify trends within mining processes.

“The MaptekMRT services extend into the beneficiation process and stockpile management through additional capabilities in PlantMRT and StockpileMRT,” Maptek added.

Emesent builds mining connections as Hovermap autonomy takes off

Having recently helped DJI’s M300 drone fly autonomously underground (through its Hovermap Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) solution) and signed an agreement with Deswik to provide surveyors and planners with more accurate data from inaccessible areas, Emesent has been on a roll of late. IM put some questions to CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar, to find out more.

IM: First off, if no communications infrastructure is in place at an underground mine, how do Emesent’s drones stream a 3D map of the environment back to the operator’s tablet?

SH: Hovermap is smartly designed to operate beyond the communication range of the operator. The operator does not always need to see a live map since Hovermap is navigating by itself. The user can place a waypoint beyond the current limits of the map, and beyond line of sight and communication range. Hovermap self-navigates towards the waypoint, avoiding obstacles and building the map as it goes. Once it reaches the waypoint (or if the waypoint is impossible to reach), it automatically returns back to the operator. The map data is stored onboard Hovermap and when it returns back to within Wi-Fi range the new map data is uploaded to the tablet. The operator can then see the new areas that were mapped and place a new waypoint in or beyond that map, sending the drone back out again to explore further.

IM: What results have you so far received from using AL2 for Hovermap at mine sites? Were the results PYBAR got from trials at Dargues and Woodlawn in line with your expectations?

SH: Last year’s trials at Dargues and Woodlawn showcased some great outcomes for the PYBAR team, including the ability for Hovermap to capture valuable data using Autonomy Level 1 (AL1). The team saw great potential in the technology, leading to the purchase of two systems for their use. Earlier this year, AL2 flights were conducted at Dargues during the final pre-release testing phase. Even the first stope at Dargues that was mapped using AL2 highlighted the benefit of the system over traditional CMS (cavity monitoring systems). A large area of overbreak was identified in the Hovermap scan. The same stope had been mapped with a CMS, but this area was not visible from the CMS scan location so the overbreak was not identified.

A number of mines have been using AL2 to map their stopes and other areas beyond line-of-sight. With AL2, they can send Hovermap into places that previously would have been inaccessible, enabling them to obtain critical data in real time without risking the machine or personnel.

The AL2-based stope scans have been more detailed and complete (lack of shadowing) than ever before. A beyond line-of-sight flight down an ore pass was also conducted recently, with Hovermap guiding the drone down 120 m and returning safely to produce a very detailed scan.

The high level of autonomy provided by AL2 also allows remote operation of the drone. We recently completed a trans-continental demo, with a customer in South Africa operating a drone in Australia using our AL2 technology and standard remote collaboration tools. The remote operator in South Africa was able to use their laptop to experiment with the technology from the other side of the world, sending Hovermap exploring down a tunnel.

This is a taste of what’s to come, with drones underground being operated from the surface or from remote operation centres thousands of kilometers away. This will remove the need for skilled personnel on site, and reduce the time spent underground.

IM: What had been holding you back from achieving AL2 with drones/payloads? Is it the on-board computing power needed to that has been the issue?

SH: Flying underground where there is no GPS, the space is tight and there are hazards such as mesh, wires, dripping water and dust is very challenging. We overcame many of these with AL1, which makes it safe and easy for a pilot to operate the drone within line-of-sight (Hovermap provides collision avoidance, position hold and velocity control). AL1 has been deployed for 18 months with many customers around the world, clocking up thousands of hours of use. This helped to improve the robustness and reliability of the core flight capabilities.

Emesent CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar

AL2 builds on this mission-proved base capability to provide additional features. AL2 allows the system to fly beyond line-of-sight and beyond commination range. This means it’s on its own with no help from the operator and needs to deal with any situation it comes across. There are many edge cases that need to be considered, addressed and thoroughly tested. A significant amount of effort was put into these areas to ensure Hovermap with AL2 is extremely robust in these challenging environments. For example, the drone downwash can kick up dust, blinding the LiDAR sensor. We’ve implemented a way to deal with this, to bring the drone home safely. Other considerations are returning in a safe and efficient way when the battery is running low, or what to do if waypoints cannot be reached.

IM: How do you anticipate your partnership with Deswik impacting the mine planning and survey process? Do you see this reducing the amount of time needed to carry out this work, as well as potentially cutting the costs associated with it? Have you already carried out work at mine sites that has proven these benefits?

SH: Our commitment is to help mining companies increase safety and production while reducing costs and downtime. We do this by providing surveyors and planners with more accurate data from inaccessible areas, allowing them to derive new insights. Our partnership with Deswik means we’re able to provide a more comprehensive end-to-end solution to the industry.

We see this as a very natural partnership that will improve the overall customer experience. Hovermap excels at capturing rich 3D data in all parts of the mine (whether drone based, hand-held, lowered down a shaft on a cable or vehicle mounted). Once the data is captured and converted to 3D, customers need to visualise and interrogate the data to derive insights. This is where Deswik and other mining software vendors come into play. They have powerful software tools for planning, survey, drill and blast, geotechnical mapping and a host of other applications. We’re partnering with these vendors to ensure seamless integration between Hovermap data and their tools. We’re working with them to build automated workflows to import, geo-reference, clean and trim the data, and convert it into formats that are suitable for various tasks.

Surveyors at Evolution Mining’s Mungari operation have been using this new process in Deswik. Previously they needed a third software tool to perform part of the workflow manually before importing to Dewik.CAD. The intermediate steps have been eliminated and others have been automated, reducing the time from more than 30 minutes per scan to five minutes per scan.

IM: Since really starting to catch on in the mining sector in the last five years, drones have gone from carrying out simple open-pit surveys and surveillance to drill and blasting reconciliation platforms to reconnaissance solutions carrying out some of the riskiest tasks in underground mining. In the next decade, how do you see them further evolving? What new tasks could drones carry out to improve safety, cut costs or increase productivity?

SH: Emesent’s vision is to drive forward the development of ‘Sentient Digital Twins’ of industrial sites to future-proof the world’s major industries, from mining to energy and construction. These industries will be able to move to more automated decision-making using high-quality, autonomously collected data across their sites and tapping into thousands of data points to make split-second decisions about potential dangers, opportunities and efficiencies using a centralised decision-making platform.

We see our Hovermap technology being a key enabler for this future. Drones and other autonomous systems will become an integral part of the mine of the future. Drones will be permanently stationed underground and operated remotely, ready for routine data collection flights or to be deployed as needed after an incident.

Hovermap is already addressing some of the biggest challenges in mining — including safety and operational downtime. It improves critical safety to mines, keeping workers away from hazardous environments while providing better data to inform safety related decisions such as the level of ground support needed. This then feeds into better efficiency by helping mines to more accurately calculate risks and opportunities, aid decision making and predict situations.

Hovermap can significantly reduce downtime after an incident. For example, it was used to assess the level of damage in LKAB’s Kiruna mine after a seismic event. More than 30 scans were captured covering 1.2 km of underground drives that were not safe to access due to fall of ground. In another case, one of our customers saved around A$20 million ($14.6 million) after an incident, as they could use Hovermap to quickly capture the data necessary to make a critical decision.

IM: In terms of R&D, what future payload developments are you investing in currently that may have applications in mining?

SH: We’ll keep adapting our Hovermap design to suit new LiDAR improvements as they are released. More importantly, we’ll improve the autonomy capabilities so that even more challenging areas can be mapped with ease. We’re also adding additional sensors such as cameras, as these provide additional insights not visible in the LiDAR data. Our colourisation solution is an add-on module for Hovermap, which uses GoPro video to add colour to the LiDAR scans. This allows the identification of geological and other features.

Gideon Slabbert promoted to Maptek South Africa GM

Maptek has announced the appointment of Gideon Slabbert to the role of General Manager of Maptek in South Africa.

Slabbert replaces Nick Venter, who will join Maptek’s North American operations as Director of Sales and Technical Sales Support.

Slabbert joined Maptek in 2017 as BlastLogic Product Manager and demonstrated strong leadership and an intimate understanding of customer requirements and challenges in the region, according to Maptek.

As General Manager, he is keen to drive uptake of applications that will help embed digital and automation tools for mining operations in the region, the company said.

“I look forward to leading the team at a time when there is excitement around solving problems by making use of new technology,” Slabbert says. “Maptek is ideally positioned to partner with mining houses during the 4th Industrial Revolution to ensure that digital transformation adds value.”

Implementing change in the mining environment has always been a challenge, according to Slabbert.

“Maptek understands the pain-points for end users and mine managers associated with changing technology. It’s an aspect of site implementation that we take very seriously to ensure our customers get the utmost benefit from their investment.”

Slabbert believes mining challenges are complex and evolving, and that Maptek has the mining background and software development expertise to meet such a challenge.

“As a professional Mining Engineer with production and technology exposure, I have seen how technology can unlock unrealised value,” adds Slabbert. “Maptek is 100% committed to supporting our solutions, and advising customers around interaction and integration of existing systems, improved workflows and scripting services.

“Our sales and technical services people have geology, engineering, survey and IT backgrounds. Ensuring they stay up to date with the latest skills to provide industry-leading support is a high priority.”

Maptek and Minnovare combine expertise to improve underground mining accuracy

Maptek says it and drill and blast technology provider, Minnovare, are delivering streamlined drill and blast solutions to help underground miners optimise their operations.

A project recently completed for an Australia gold miner is a great example of how collaboration between these technology providers can result in better outcomes for mining companies.

Linking Maptek Vulcan™ design and modelling software with Minnovare’s new Production Optimiser system for underground production drilling has streamlined “the connection between design and as-built for more accurate outcomes”, the two companies said.

Ring design data, including images, can now be exported from Vulcan and easily uploaded directly to Minnovare CORE – the Production Optimiser software interface – through scripting provided by Maptek. The Vulcan−Production Optimiser combination helps ensure that drilling follows design. It also reduces the need for re-work, as feedback on accuracy and compliance is available to both the rig operator and the technical engineering team using Vulcan, according to the companies.

Production Optimiser combines advanced rig alignment hardware with drill data capture software, substantially reducing blasthole deviation and average rig setup times, according to Minnovare. “This leads to optimum charge patterns and blasts, with a host of flow-on productivity benefits for an operation, including improved ore recovery, reduced average dilution and a faster stope cycle time,” the company said.

Maptek says it has 40 years’ experience in developing technology and systems that solve daily challenges for global mining companies. “Investment in people, motivated by excellence, innovation and continual improvement, allows delivery of systems that help integrate and streamline mining processes into a single source of technical data to inform decision making,” Maptek said. This includes the scripting that bridged the gap between Vulcan and Production Optimiser.

Minnovare developed the Production Optimiser, which was released in June 2018, in close collaboration with leading Australian gold miners, Gold Fields and Evolution Mining. Since its release the new technology has been taken up rapidly within industry, with leaders such as Northern Star Resources signing an official Collaboration Agreement with Minnovare in August 2018. This has seen the gold miner use it in both Western Australia and, more recently, in Alaska at its Pogo operation.

Analysis that Minnovare has conducted of in-hole survey data proves that circumstances prior to drilling account for up to 70% of blasthole deviation, the company said. This was contrary to the prevailing industry perception that in-hole deviation was the primary contributor.

Maptek, PETRA Data Science combine mine schedule optimisation and digital twin expertise

In what is claimed to be an industry first, Maptek and PETRA Data Science have established a partnership to enable “seamless value chain optimisation and simulation” from resource models through to metal produced.

This development will allow mining companies, for the first time, to use millions of tonnes of their historical performance and resource metadata for dynamic optimisation, according to the two companies.

PETRA Managing Director, Penny Stewart (pictured, left), said: “I see Maptek as the go-to company for spatial data in mining. Whether you are looking at their 3D virtual environments for geological modelling and mine optimisation, or long-range laser scanners for 3D mapping and monitoring, every aspect is custom built for mining. Any true digital twin in mining needs to consider geology.”

She continued: “Our partnership with Maptek provides PETRA with easy access to upstream geological data for value chain optimisation, and enables Maptek to extend schedule optimisation downstream of the mine. For the first time, miners will be able to play forward the mine schedule into the processing plant.”

Stewart recently visited the Maptek R&D facility in Adelaide, South Australia, where she listened as the Manufacturing Manager explained how in response to customer requests, they have shed 4 kg off the weight of their scanners, she said.

“The custom-built innovations incorporating aerospace technology and military grade specs are really impressive. I mention this example because it illustrates Maptek’s laser focus on their mining customers, and this is strongly aligned with PETRA’s reason for being.”

She concluded: “As a mining engineer, I know that Maptek’s reputation for maintaining substantial investment in software and hardware for spatial data is second to none. I feel honoured that Maptek has chosen to partner with PETRA, and the whole PETRA team is excited by what this partnership will achieve for the mining industry!”

The integrated technology offerings of PETRA and Maptek cover solutions from geological modelling to plant and process optimisation and simulation. The partnership combines deep domain expertise from across the whole value chain and, together, PETRA and Maptek offer the industry a practical alternative to the common practice of siloed optimisation, according to the two companies.

Under the partnership, Maptek Evolution mine schedule optimisation will be dynamically linked to PETRA’s latest digital twin performance models including; metal produced, grade, quality, recovery and throughput. “Dynamic mine scheduling is made possible by bringing together Maptek optimisation engines and PETRA’s prediction and simulation algorithms,” they said.

The agreement will see Maptek BlastLogic blast design optimisation also benefit from dynamic links to PETRA digital twin models for loading, crushing and grinding. In addition, PETRA MAXTA digital twin blast design simulation will benefit from connection to BlastLogic historical drill and blast design data.

Stewart will continue to drive the growth and development of PETRA solutions, with Maptek Managing Director, Peter Johnson (pictured, right), appointed to the PETRA Advisory Board. “PETRA will continue to operate a platform-agnostic business model, with investment funds channelled into further development of PETRA’s open format integrations, including APIs and architecture,” the companies said.

Peter Johnson said Maptek’s goal to enable customers to realise greater value from the available mine data requires consideration of a context far beyond the orebody model and mine plan.

“We need to empower our customers to relate the performance and characteristics of processes and equipment far downstream from geology or planning assumptions and understand the relationships better,” he said.

“PETRA has a proven capability to create prediction and optimisation algorithms for miners through the innovative application of their data science expertise and experience in the real world,” he added.

He concluded: “Our investment and ongoing partnership is all about building business improvement into the mining cycle by leveraging the technology of both companies.”

PETRA’s algorithms are deployed by mining companies around the world, while its MAXTA digital twins for value chain optimisation ingest 10s of millions of tonnes of ore data to predict and simulate plant performance using machine learning. The latter have been successfully used for geometallurgical prediction, drill and blast simulation, and process control simulation and optimisation.

The company recently applied its big data and AI capabilities to an iron ore mine in Western Australia, which, according to PETRA Technical Director, Zeljka Pokrajcic, was able to demonstrate the link between the mineral resource and comminution.

APCOM 2019 to showcase mining’s digital transformation developments

The preliminary technical programme for the APCOM 2019 conference in Wroclaw, Poland, (June 4-6) has gone live, showing off some of the highest quality peer-reviewed papers on ‘digital transformation’ in mining, from resource estimation to mine operation and safety.

The conference topics include:

Geostatistics and resource estimation

APCOM said: “An entire three-day conference stream provides more than 20 leading- edge and peer-reviewed papers by world-class practitioners from leading mining companies and by world-leading research institutes.”

Papers on this topic include: Transforming Exploration Data Through Machine Learning from MICROMINE’s Mark Gabbitus, Rock mass characterisation using MWD data and photogrammetry from Luleå University of Technology’s Sohail Manzoor, and Rethinking Fleet & Personnel Management in the era of IoT, Big Data, Gamification, and low-cost Tablet Technology from MST Global’s Sean Dessureault.

Mine planning

There will be about 15 papers on newest IT-supported techniques in mine planning, uncertainty reduction, geomechanics, modelling, simulation and the most recent software technology, according to APCOM.

Papers on this topic include: A procedure to generate optimised ramp designs using mathematical programming from Delphos Mine Planning Lab, AMTC/DIMIN, Universidad de Chile’s Nelson Morales, Incorporation of geological risk into underground mine planning from NEXA Resources’ Rafael Rosado and a presentation from AngloGold Ashanti’s Andrade Barbosa titled, Economic Optimisation of Rib Pillars Placement in Underground Mines.

Scheduling and dispatch

“Around 15 papers address long- and short-term scheduling optimisation, the application of neural networks and genetic algorithms as well as risk mitigation and related software systems. A keynote talk covers the impact of Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and gamification on fleet scheduling topics,” APCOM said.

The conference has attracted speakers on this subject from Clausthal University of Technology, AngloGold Ashanti, University of Alberta, AusGEMCO Pty Ltd, Newmont Mining Corp, Advanced Mining Technology Center and Maptek.

Mine operation in digital transformation

There are more than 20 papers in this stream covering mining equipment related topics in the area of LHD transport, drilling and longwall operation, as well as underground communications and new digital technologies in mine safety, as well as product quality optimisation.

Speakers from the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Breakline and breakdown surfaces modelling in the design of large-scale blasts), Komatsu Mining (The Digital Mine eco-system), Tunnel Radio (Hybrid 5G Fibre Optic/Leaky Feeder Communication System) and Epiroc (Monitoring of a stoping operation, digital transformation in practice) are set to present papers

Emerging technologies and robotics in mining

Under this topic, there are a number of sessions with almost 10 papers covering the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in mining, the benefits of upcoming technology in robotics, mechatronics and communications, as well as the changes in machine design through digital transformation, APCOM said. Also a completely new transport system is presented in this stream.

Papers in this stream include: More Safety in Underground Mining with IoT and Autonomous Robots (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institute of Mining and Special Civil Engineering), Application of UAV imaging and photogrammetry for high-resolution modelling of open pit geometry and slope stability monitoring (Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno) and The concept of walking robot for mining industry (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology).

Synergies from other industries

A plenary speech from an active airline captain will lead this session, talking about the impact of human-machine interfaces on decision-making of automated equipment and in control centres, APCOM said. Other papers will be on the transferability of building information modelling from commercial construction to mining.

A paper from MT-Silesia Sp zoo called: From machine construction to mechatronic system design: Digital Transformation is changing the way of thinking! is included. There are also talks from MobileTronics GmbH’s George Biro on, Rethinking mining transport: Trackless trains for mass transport in mining and KGHM Polska Miedeź’s Mariusz Sangórski presenting, Energy Management System Maturity Model – Systematic Approach to Gain Knowledge about Organization’s Real Engagement in Energy Efficiency Area.

The conference takes place at the convention centre of the Wroclaw University of Technology and is accompanied by an exhibition, APCOM said. A social programme, conference dinner with entertainment and partner activities are available as well as field trips on June 7.

“A post-conference hike in the Karkonosze Mountains is offered from June 8-10, with overnight stays in two microbreweries on the ridge, is a relaxing finish to the technical discussions of the week,” APCOM said.

All presentations are to be held in English. Simultaneous translation to Polish is provided if requested by a sufficient number of participants.

International Mining is a media partner for APCOM 2019.

Maptek equips Sentry stability monitoring system for the cold

Software, hardware and services provider, Maptek, has released a cold climate model of its award-winning mobile Sentry system for stability monitoring, as it looks to expand its market reach even further.

Sentry is a mobile remote monitoring system that uses laser scanning to continuously measure ground movement with extremely fine spatial resolution and accuracy, according to Maptek. Housed in a self-contained unit with autonomous power and communications capabilities, Sentry relies on software to monitor, analyse and report in real-time.

The newcomer to the Maptek technology portfolio answers the imperative for continuous, reliable measurements of ground movement no matter the environment, Maptek said.

Maptek Product Manager, James Howarth, said: “Risk management remains a priority. If anything, the reliable operation of technical equipment is even more critical in extreme conditions.

“Climate factors play an important role in the execution of any mining project. Extremely low temperature conditions require considerable planning and logistics, especially from an operator safety perspective.”

The Sentry system can operate continuously from -20°C to +50°C, with operation for a limited time in temperatures below -20°C. It requires an XR3 cold climate laser scanner, which has been redesigned and tested to operate at these low temperatures, Maptek said. A removable neoprene jacket for the scanner provides extra protection against wind chill.

Maptek redesigned all the major components in the standard temperature Sentry mobile system, with significant changes to achieve the required cold climate specifications, it said.

The company said: “In deep cold weather, the charge acceptance of batteries is very low. Keeping batteries warm maximises power output and ability to accept a charge. The battery pack and housing in the Sentry system has been redesigned and insulated to keep the unit at a stable operating temperature. Other built-ins such as generator, hydraulics and electrical systems were adapted to maintain energy efficient, cost-effective operation.”

Howarth added: “What hasn’t changed is the proven capability to monitor multiple areas. Customers enthuse on how easy Sentry is to set up and use. Data is displayed intuitively, ready for immediate application in risk management programs.”

The 3D point cloud data that has been collected while monitoring can be used for geotechnical analysis and other applications. The Maptek laser scanner can also be redeployed from the monitoring for routine survey tasks.

Paradigm Shifters qualify for round two of Canada’s Crush It! Challenge

A group of companies called ‘The Paradigm Shifters’ has made it to the next round of a challenge aimed at reducing the amount of energy that crushers and grinders use in the mining process.

The Crush It! Challenge is spearheaded by the federal government (Impact Canada), in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), and Goldcorp.

Crushing and grinding account for upwards of 50% of mine site energy consumption and up to 3% of all the electric power generated in the world.

iRing Inc is the lead partner within The Paradigm Shifters and has coordinated the effort with proposal partners to respond to the challenge, it said.

The company explained: “Essentially the team proposes to bring together the processes and technology that could reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive primary crushers, and reduce the energy required by secondary crushing (potentially eliminating it as well) and grinders in both mines and quarries globally.”

The Crush It! Challenge has several qualifying rounds and, if successful in getting to Round 3, then the team will be eligible to receive C$800,000 ($605,397) in seed funding to further prove the concept over a one-and-a-half-year period. At the end of that period, if the team wins the chance to move forward, the project would be eligible to receive an additional C$5 million in funding to commercialise the products and concepts.

The Paradigm Shifters team consists of:

  • iRing Inc (North Bay) Challenge Project Lead – Drill and blasting software;
  • Nexco Inc (North Bay) – Producer of the energy-variable explosive product;
  • Boart Longyear (North Bay and global) – Global supplier of market leading drilling products and services;
  • Paige Engineering Ltd (PEL) (North Bay) – Design and fabrication of explosive manufacturing and loading equipment;
  • Seneca (Montreal) – Explosive plant engineering, design and build;
  • Maptek (Denver and Global) – 3D laser scanner/fragmentation measurement capabilities, and;
  • Bomon Capital (Toronto) – Long term financing should the team succeed.

The savings that could accrue to mines and quarries annually is C$12.8 billion (25% reduction) to C$25.6 billion (50% reduction), according to iRing.

“If all mines in the world adopted this solution, it would represent a reduction equivalent to 7-13% of all the carbon released in Canada, and 20-41% of Canada’s contribution to meeting the Paris Accord agreement.”

iRing will use its software, Aegis, to design the blasting patterns based on the fragmentation requirements. Boart Longyear will deploy recently developed high speed diamond drilling technologies and instrumentation solutions to quickly and accurately drill and validate high-quality blast holes, while using significantly less energy. iRing said: “Boart Longyear’s drills utilise drilling data logging to interpret rock density and strength etc, while drilling.”

The company continued: “With Seneca’s help, Nexco will build a demonstration plant that will produce an energy-variable explosive mixture that can be fuelled while being loaded into the blastholes, and the blast energy would be based on the ore strength information provided by Boart Longyear’s drills and iRing’s software.”

Troy Williams, Vice President of Development of iRing, said: “The challenge will provide a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to reach the mining industry and demonstrate that it is possible to produce consistent results from the blasting operations.”

PEL will design and fabricate the explosive manufacturing and loading equipment required to change the explosive’s energy during loading, according to iRing. Energy reduction is done by adding additional water content into the explosive formulation during loading. Maptek’s laser scanner, meanwhile, will be used to verify fragmentation results by scanning the muck pile and producing a 3D point cloud which can be analysed for a measured fragmentation distribution. Those results will be used by Aegis to further calibrate the fragmentation models.

Mark Sherry, President of iRing, said: “We are really excited by this opportunity as it is directly in iRing’s wheelhouse. The Paradigm Shifters bring together the best in the industry when it comes to drilling and blasting. By working together, we will create a paradigm that is more efficient, effective, cleaner, and safer”.