Tag Archives: Mining3

Weir ESCO and Mining3 working on commercialising tramp metal detection system

Mining3 says an innovative tramp metal detection system – built into the bucket of mining equipment – is nearing commercialisation.

The company has been working on the new technology over the past few years subsequent to safety concerns and crusher damage caused by tramp metal such as bucket teeth, drill bits, tools and more, often remaining in mined material, it said. This can cause a loss of production and pose a significant safety threat to operators and maintainers.

Mining3 is working with Weir ESCO, an equipment metal parts manufacturer, for the incorporation of the uncrushables technology into its bucket design and will facilitate the commercialisation of the technology, Mining3 said.

“With the new patented uncrushables detection system, obstructive tramp metal can be identified and diverted before reaching the processing plant,” Mining3 said. “A pulse induction metal detector embedded inside the large steel bucket of a digging machine takes on the difficult task of detecting metal items scattered throughout the material. The system’s variable sensitivity is tuned for an object’s target size, focusing on larger, more obstructive uncrushables and allowing for the removal of smaller items further down the processing line. Further, the detection algorithm accommodates changes in ore grade and identifies the type of object.”

When metal is detected, the operator is alerted in real time, allowing for the necessary next steps – usually the dumping and diverting of the material, Mining3 said. In addition to the operator alert, the system integrates into a control centre interface and allows remote management and monitoring of the process.

The tramp metal detection approach requires minimal sensing equipment in the bucket and commercial versions will discreetly integrate the coil into the design, according to Mining3.

Successful site trials have led the project to integrate with larger and more technical machinery. Current prototypes are installed on Komatsu WA1200, Cat 992K, 993K and 994K machines operating on run-of-mine stockpiles in iron ore, gold and copper mines across the globe. Mining3’s research is now focused on deployability, robustness and optimisation, it said.

Tailings monitoring could go autonomous, Mining3 says

Mining3 says it and The University of Queensland, in conjunction with the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), are currently in the process of building prototype autonomous sensors for the constant monitoring of tailings and spoil storage facilities.

The Australia-based company said: “Tailings impoundments are one of the largest man-made structures on earth and ensuring their integrity for the safety of human life, the environment and property are critical in today’s mining operations. Past and recent catastrophic tailings dam failures have placed an urgent need for improved waste disposal, storage processes and monitoring capabilities.”

Currently, the integrity of the tailings dam infrastructure is monitored by mining staff walking along the, potentially unstable, perimeter and visually inspecting the exterior. Piezometer-like devices are also placed throughout dams to measure changes in liquid pressure. “Combined, these methods provide subjective data that cannot deliver an ongoing and accurate assessment of the integrity of these waste storage facilities,” Mining3 said. “Without a reasonable assessment of these large structures, there is no way to identify if or when one might fail.”

With a web of small, interconnected sensors spread across a tailings dam or spoil dump, Mining3 says accurate measurements in the change of water pressure or movement in the soil can be delivered to the surface in real-time. “This provides up to date readings of environmental factors that can affect overall wall stability, limiting the need for staff on the ground,” the company added.

Mining 3 and the university’s research will also delve into identifying indicators and precursors to failures, in relation to data collected from these sensors. “This could revolutionise the understanding of these storage facilities. By understanding the causation, steps can then be taken to minimise risk in the future,” Mining3 said.

“The current project addresses key industry outcomes surrounding safety and the removal of personnel from hazardous situations such as those involved in ground stability, the investigation of material properties and their implications in the design and functionality of a dump site, and the investigation into aspects of effective mine closure and the long term impacts associated with tailings dams and spoil dumps.”

Mining3 and Ava Group gear up for launch of Aura IQ conveyor monitoring system

Mining3 and Ava Group have revealed a little more about the plans to launch an innovative predictive asset monitoring solution for conveyors.

Under the development and commercialisation agreement signed last month, Ava’s Future Fibre Technologies (FFT) subsidiary will use its Aura advanced fibre optic sensing platform, combined with Mining3’s signal processing algorithms, to bring to market a brand new FFT solution – Aura IQ.

“This automated system will provide the global mining industry with the world’s most advanced solution in wear detection of conveyor rollers with the ability to pre-empt failure, generating significant time and cost savings,” Mining3 said.

Prof Paul Lever, CEO of Mining3, said: “Our focus remains on accelerating the research and development process to deliver breakthrough technology for our members and the global mining industry. The new development and commercialisation partnership with the Ava Group facilitates this outcome and ensures the industry benefit from much-needed advancements in technology.”

Ava Group’s Head of Extractives and Energy, Andrew Hames, said: “Mining companies are striving to realise the full benefits of evolving digital capabilities to enhance improvements in productivity; including looking at ways of using data more effectively to improve asset management, reliability and introduce predictive capability.

“This partnership is a result of our focus towards providing innovative solutions to clients in key strategic sectors. The opportunity for Ava Group and FFT is transformational for the industry and adjacent markets as we further leverage the technologies’ applications.”

Aura IQ is expected to launch in Q2 FY2019 and provide a first mover advantage for Ava Group, in a potential total addressable market of up to A$300 million ($213 million), Mining3 said.

Ava and Mining3 partner up to provide condition monitoring solution for conveyors

Ava Risk Group has signed a development and commercialisation agreement with Mining3 aimed at launching an “innovative new performance management solution” that could revolutionise the condition monitoring of conveyors, the ASX-listed risk assurance company said.

The agreement will strengthen the recently announced strategic alliance between Future Fibre Technologies (FFT), an Ava Group division, and Mining3, a leading global mining research and innovation company.

Ava explained: “Conveyor maintenance is a significant daily problem for the mining, cement, pulp and paper and agriculture sectors. Conventional methods of advanced detection of failure in conveyors are unreliable, time-consuming and labour intensive.”

Under the three-year agreement, FFT will use its Aura Ai-2 advanced fibre optic sensing platform, combined with Mining3’s signal processing algorithms, to bring to market a new FFT product that provides the world’s “most advanced predictive conveyor condition monitoring system for the global mining industry”, Ava said. The product will provide wear detection to pre-empt roller failure using FFT’s fibre optic solutions, with FFT investing up to A$250,000 ($177,437) to develop and market the new jointly created product. FFT will also have worldwide rights to the commercialisation of the technology.

This solution is expected to launch later this year and, Ava said, “provides a first mover advantage for the Ava Group, in a potential total addressable market of up to A$300 million”.

Ava Group CEO, Chris Fergus, said: “Mining companies are striving to realise the full benefits of evolving digital capabilities to sustain and enhance improvements in productivity, including looking at ways of using data more effectively to enhance asset management, improve reliability and introduce predictive capability.

“This partnership is a result of our focus towards providing innovative solutions to clients in key strategic sectors. The potential opportunity for Ava Group is transformational as we begin to execute and leverage on our strong portfolio of intellectual property to address our adjacent market solution strategy”.

Prof Paul Lever, CEO of Mining3, said: “We believe that partnerships such as this will drive the industry forward, building trust with suppliers by turning vendors into partners. Ava Group’s approach to collaborative innovation with service companies and suppliers is to be commended and we look forward to working with the FFT team to extend the application of their world-class technology beyond the initial solution.”

The Ava Group is a leader in the provision of risk management services and technologies and features a range of complementary solutions including intrusion detection for perimeters, pipelines and data networks, biometrics, card access control and locking as well as secure international logistics, storage of high value assets and risk consulting services.

Mining3, meanwhile, is a leading research organisation, directed by its global mining industry members to develop and deliver transformational technology to improve the productivity, sustainability, and safety of the mining industry.

The Electric Mine logo

The Electric Mine conference shifts gear

With just under four months to go, The Electric Mine conference is charging up to full capacity.

IM has been able to assemble a world-class speaker line-up covering the entire mine electrification process – from R&D and power infrastructure, to battery charging and electrified equipment.

The conference, to take place on April 4-5, 2019, in Toronto, Canada, will host the great and the good in this fast-evolving sector and hear case studies from real mine trials or applications.

This includes a presentation from Kirkland Lake Gold, which is currently running one of the largest in-production underground battery-electric fleets in the industry at its Macassa gold mine in Canada.

Just last month, IM heard that some 33 units were active underground at the deep and high-grade mine in Ontario and Andrew Schinkel, Senior Electrical Engineer of the Macassa Mine Complex, will most likely be able to add to that number, as well as comment on the fleet’s productivity, come conference time.

The soon-to-be-in-production Borden gold project, also in Ontario, will be under the spotlight at the event, with the involved OEMs and mining company collaborating on stage as they have during mine development.

Maarten van Koppen (pictured, left), Senior Project Engineer at Goldcorp Porcupine Mines, Jeff Anderson, Senior Mechanical Designer, MacLean Engineering, and a Sandvik Mining co-speaker (to be confirmed), will present: ‘The Borden Gold Project – lessons learned from the ‘mine of the future’ and the crucial role of partnerships in building an all-electric underground mine’.

The major mining representation does not end there.

Samantha Espley, Director of the Technology & Innovation Centre for Mining and Mineral Processing, Vale Base Metals Operations, will chart the mining company’s roadmap to underground electrification in Sudbury during her talk; expect the OEMs in the room to ask questions about the future fleet for the Creighton deep zone!

Caterpillar’s Product Manager for Underground Technology Solutions, Jay Armburger, is also set to take to the stage at the Radisson Admiral. The focus of his talk will be on heat generation, comparing battery and diesel LHDs underground. A few passing references to the proof of concept R1300G LHD trials it ran not all that long ago at an underground mine in Sudbury, Canada (pictured, right), are likely.

We’ll also hear about developments above ground.

A joint presentation from Karl Trudeau (Nouveau Monde Graphite), Michel Serres (ABB Canada) and David Lyon (MEDATECH) will shed some light on what it will take to create an all-electric open-pit mine able to produce 100,000 t of graphite concentrate at NMG’s Matawinie project in Quebec, Canada.

Those three speakers could be in the front row for Per-Erik Lindström’s talk on The Electric Site project in Sweden.

Lindström, Vice President Global Key Account Management for Volvo Construction Equipment, has seen first hand how battery-electric equipment can move the needle in terms of cost and emissions at the Skanska Vikan Cross quarry, just outside of Gothenburg, and there are more than a few miners interested in the prototype machines (pictured, left) the OEM has manufactured for this purpose.

These presentations will be complemented by a talk from Heather Ednie, Managing Director, Global Mining Guidelines Group, on the second edition of the group’s Battery Electric Vehicle guideline; an opening keynote from Ali G. Madiseh, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Mine Energy Systems, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, titled: ‘The Electric Mine: a new norm in mine energy systems’; Erik Isokangas, Program Director, Mining3, discussing the value proposition for autonomous electric haulage; and Doug Morrison, President and CEO, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), looking at electrification to maximise productive capacity.

Meanwhile, Justin Bain, Chief Executive Officer, Energetique (Energy/Mobility), will fly in from Australia to pronounce the death of diesel Down Under – his firm has recently been involved in the conversion of diesel utility vehicles to battery-electric drive.

Along similar lines, Paul Miller, of Miller Technology, will talk about what goes into developing an innovative fully-electric light utility automobile, designed for continuous underground operation.

IM then has two behemoths in the mine power sector, Siemens and Schneider Electric, looking at the all-important infrastructure that goes into electrification.

Dr Bappa Banerjee, General Manager, Mining Equipment, GE Transportation, will look at the electric future for load and haul in his keynote, Mathieu Bouffard, Project Manager, Adria Manufacture, will cover battery charging and power management of battery-electric vehicles, and Don Duval, CEO of NORCAT, will showcase some of the new technologies that have come out of the organisation’s Underground Centre in Sudbury.

This speaker line-up is only set to improve as we move into the New Year, with IM in advanced discussions with more OEMs and miners looking to present.

The first global event on mine electrification continues to charge ahead…

If you’d like to hear more about The Electric Mine conference – including presenting and sponsorship opportunities – please feel free to get in contact with Editorial Director Paul Moore ([email protected]) or Editor Dan Gleeson ([email protected]).

To view the full speaker line-up, venue details and to take advantage of the soon-to-expire Early Bird attendance rate, please visit the event homepage here.

Mining3 making headway on Alternative Explosives project

Toxic fumes produced by detonating explosives in both surface and underground mining could become a thing of the past if Mining3’s Alternative Explosives project continues to present impressive results, the research organisation has said.

Over the past few years, research has been underway at Mining3 to deliver a hydrogen peroxide-based explosive that is a non-toxic and far safer and environmentally-friendly alternative to current blasting materials.

While the initial research confirmed ammonium nitrate-free explosives was a viable option, further investigation was required in fume monitoring, blasting capability, underground blasting applications, and alternative fuel formulations, Mining3 said.

A blasting chamber was installed at the Pinjarra Hills facility in Brisbane, Australia, to provide an on-site testing environment. Detonation monitoring confirmed the post-blast fumes from hydrogen peroxide-based explosives reduced exposure risk and delivered a significant reduction in toxic post-blast gases, the company said.

Comparisons of 100 g detonations between the hydrogen peroxide-based explosive and the bulk ammonium nitrate explosive (ANFO) revealed the latter was associated with a maximum of 50 ppm nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gases over 25 minutes, while the hydrogen peroxide-based explosive had no NO2 fume production.

“Success was also achieved in underground mining with trials conducted at the Sandvik mine facilities in Tampere, Finland, where Mining3 researchers conducted underground burn cut and fume monitoring trials.

“Tests in high density (circa-1.07 g.cc-1), hard volcanic rock revealed hydrogen peroxide-based explosives obtained the velocity of detonation values in the vicinity of 4.7 km.s-1 and performed similarly to an ammonium nitrate emulsion (ANE) product during comparative tests.

“Gas monitoring data also indicate that the hydrogen peroxide-based explosives produced less toxic carbon monoxide, post-blast fumes, than the ANE product. Further trials, optimisation, and loading improvements are anticipated to further enhance detonation performance and reduce re-entry time during operations,” Mining3 said.

In addition to the effective underground blasts, the production team proved international borders are not a barrier to the technology.

“Local materials were tested and confirmed to meet the requirements for the alternative explosive formulations. The oxidising component, hydrogen peroxide, is manufactured around the world in industrial volumes for several industries and is already used in some mining operations for ore processing.

“The use of hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 50% has been utilised for explosives testing as it has a wide commercial availability. Whilst higher percentages of hydrogen peroxide have been utilised in the past for explosives, in the interest of a bulk explosive, a 50% w/w percentage solution has adequately performed in blast trials.”

The predominant fuel component, glycerol, likewise is available in commercial volumes and the sensitisation material, glass micro-balloons, required to enable detonation of a hydrogen peroxide-based explosive is readily obtained from several international companies.

The low percentages of the sensitisation material used to achieve the desired density of the hydrogen peroxide-based explosive are comparable to, or less than what is required for an ANE product. In all, the alternative explosive formulation can be optimised for global application.

Finally, the investigation of inexpensive, alternative fuels for the hydrogen peroxide-based explosive technology were identified thanks to a collaboration with Southern Oil. The aim was to replace the expensive glycerol fuel component with an inexpensive waste line from the oil refinery industry. The identification of refinery distillates as fuels have added stability, flexibility and cost reductions to the product.

It was this new alternative fuel-based formulation, designed by Dr Andrew Kettle, Mining3 Research Scientist, that was displayed at a National Explosive’s Forum in Helidon, Queensland, last month. At this event, the practical manufacture method was demonstrated which was followed by the detonation of 500 g of the hydrogen peroxide-based explosive product.

At the display, two prepared solutions – oxidiser and fuel phases – were combined and during mixing, activated to produce a hydrogel. The demonstration provided a chance for the mining industry to understand the denotation capability of this alternative fuel source which has maintained the product blast capability.

The next stages of the alternative explosives project include further applications in surface and underground mining and optimisation of formulations to meet the industry demands for commercial purposes.

Commercial partnerships with material suppliers and manufacturing unit producers are currently being negotiated, and multiple trial sites are scheduled to progress the operational integration of this product into the mining industry.

Mining3, Robit and CSIRO team up to tackle drillhole deviation

Mining3, in partnership with global drilling tools specialist Robit and CSIRO, has taken up the challenge to develop an underground percussive drillhole deviation measurement tool.

The new system, dubbed as U-sense, is an upgrade of Robit’s S-sense technology (pictured) licensed from Mining3’s Automated String Positioning System. The S-sense system measures the straightness of surface production holes bored by a percussive drilling process and is commercially available for purchase by Robit. U-sense will extend the technology to longhole underground percussive drilling with water flushing.

As Mining 3 Technology Leader Dr Sevda Dekhoda says: “Drilling is one of the critical elements in the process of rock breakage. The location (including length and orientation), explosives charge, and detonation sequence of blastholes are strategically selected to produce the most efficient and optimal rock fragmentation.

“The consequences of deviation in drillhole trajectories from the designed pattern include build-ups, hang-ups and poor rock fragmentation, and will normally lead to extra drilling, loss of drill strings, ore dilution, ore loss, increased explosive consumption, time wastage, and delays in the chain of production operations. Hence, the impact of blasthole deviations can be felt throughout the production cycle, excavating, hauling, and mineral processing.”

This is where U-sense, which is an easy to use capsule that sits within an adapter between the percussive drill bit and drilling tube, comes in handy. It measures the trajectories of the drilled borehole as the bit is retrieved from the hole, then communicates the information with a receiver system mounted on the drilling mast.

The measurement module is on standby during the percussive drilling process and commences measurement once the drilling is complete.

As the unit is pulled out of the hole, the sensors record inertial information for processing with onboard proprietary algorithms. Once the tool is completely out of the hole, the data are transferred wirelessly for presentation on a cockpit tablet. The plot of actual borehole trajectory information – with respect to the planned orientation – allows the decisionmakers to drill a remedy blast hole or revise the blast design.

“Early access to drillhole trajectory information can have a huge impact on reducing mining costs of freezing stopes, creating large oversize, and under-break or over-break caused by blasthole deviation,” Dekhoda said.

“In addition, data from the testing unit will be used to develop decision support systems for determining the best way for a production team to modify the pattern if excessive deviation is detected. The availability of hole deviation data – on every blasthole – will enable further research into optimisation of blast designs for different rock mass conditions.”

The project Mining3, Robit and CSIRO are working on has two main phases to develop:

  1. A validated pre-commercial test unit;
  2. Next generation upgrade and testing of the unit through various case studies.

Mining3 expects the unit will be available for priority clients (sponsors) in 12 months and can be purchased through Robit.

Blockchain trading software could lead to golden future for miners

A new blockchain software platform is allowing miners to trade on the future value of their unprocessed materials, according to industry-backed research organisation Mining3.

Julian Wise, a Software Engineer at Mining3 and RMIT University Student, said the software used financial algorithms along with transparent blockchain “smart contracts”, to enable the trading of derivatives.

Derivatives are financial contracts where buyers agree to purchase an asset, in this case unprocessed ore containing gold, on a specific date at a set price.

Unprocessed ore is often stockpiled if not profitable to process or extract at current market rates. But Wise said fluctuations in commodity prices and advances in mining technology meant ore previously deemed unprofitable often becomes profitable to process in the future.

“This simply harnesses that future value of unprocessed materials today to give miners immediate cash flow and royalties from their stockpiles, whilst enabling market traders to profit on future price increases,” he said.

“But while people are already trading on the future value of processed metals and minerals, no-one has applied the same pricing mechanisms and exchange styles higher up the supply chain to unprocessed minerals.”

The team’s pioneering project was presented this week at the 3rd Symposium on Distributed Ledger Technology on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

To develop the prototype software, RMIT University students worked with Mining3, which had a vision for a next-generation blockchain-backed platform.

Mining3 senior mining researchers provided the mining industry context, technical detail and know-how on mineral price calculations while the RMIT Software Engineering and IT students developed the pricing algorithm, blockchain ecosystem and website interface, according to Mining3.

Mining3 Chief Operating Officer, Susan Grandone, said the technology was built through interdisciplinary co-operation, with the solution combining mineral technologies and finance, deployed as a software service.

The technology is currently set up as a prototype on a demonstration website for internal use and testing. Another iteration of development is necessary to carry the proof of concept through to a platform that can be utilised in a production environment for real value transactions.