Tag Archives: Nornickel

Nornickel targets safety boost at Bystrinsky GOK with collision avoidance tech

Norilsk Nickel’s Bystrinsky GOK operation in the Trans-Baikal Territory of Russia has been testing a collision avoidance system from V2-Group with the aim of improving safety and avoiding haul road accidents at the open-pit gold-iron-copper mine.

Bystrinsky GOK, which consists of a mining operation and processing plant, is home to the Bystrinsky gold-iron-copper deposit. This deposit contained some 343 Mt of reserves when the mine started up in 2017.

Collision avoidance sensors from V2-Group have been installed on one Komatsu PC4000 excavator and two Caterpillar 789D mining trucks at the open-pit operation, Nornickel confirmed. The company has also employed a V2-Group dispatch system at the mine.

A Nornickel spokesperson said testing of the system started in November 2020, with the company currently looking at trialling collision avoidance equipment from other vendors as part of its due diligence process.

“A collision avoidance system should be operational around-the-clock without fail even in the most difficult weather conditions,” the spokesperson said. “It should have the capacity to adjust its parameters depending on the dimensions of various equipment and situations encountered in the pit, on the dump, and while moving between mines.”

The testing represents a step towards helping the company meet one of its key priorities in the operation of the “largest mining and processing plant in the Trans-Baikal Territory – that of ensuring safety, especially when working with mining equipment”, the spokesperson added.

The mining operation has already implemented a range of measures, including IT projects, to ensure safety of personnel, industrial safety and road safety. Last year, it tested a fatigue detection system, which quickly detects everything from episodes of driver microsleep to distractions on the road, as well as an intelligent control system.

Should testing of the collision avoidance systems prove successful, Nornickel expects to rollout the equipment on all mining and auxiliary vehicles, the spokesperson concluded.

COVID-19: the catalyst for driving sustainability in the metals and mining sector

COVID-19 has been a game-changer for many industries, with an inconceivable amount of companies closing or temporarily stopping their work, report Pat Lowery and Dr Nick Mayhew*.

The metals and mining industry has been no exception. By April this year, almost 250 mine sites in 33 countries had been disrupted by the virus with government-mandated shutdowns and hundreds of thousands of workers sent home either because they had contracted the virus or for their safety.

While the global pandemic has proved to be a severe crisis for the mining industry, severe crises force change, and the mining industry has been forced to commit to change and to new goals to survive.

At first, it seemed that companies might give up complying with sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) goals. However, the outcome was in fact the opposite. The pandemic has demonstrated that sustainability is now a permanent, key driver across the world, which will not be forgotten by governments nor the private sector.

Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American

The European Council made this clear by highlighting that it will not abandon its ‘Green Deal’ as part of its fiscal response to COVID-19. While in the US, New York State passed legislation which accelerated the construction of clean energy facilities as a way to spur economic recovery and fight climate change. As for investors, according to the COVID-19 Investor Pulse Check report, published by the Boston Consulting Group in May 2020, 51% of investors say they want CEOs to continue to fully pursue their ESG agenda and priorities.

COVID-19 not only set the records straight on a commitment to sustainability, but it provided a much-needed stimulus to spur the innovation required to achieve this desired goal. The metals and mining sector traditionally had a reputation for being slow to embrace new technologies – it ranked 30th out of 53 sectors in terms of R&D investment in the 2018 Global Innovation Study 1000 – however, it had no option but to react quickly to the crisis.

For instance, BHP created a COVID-19 tracking app and its Atacama mine in Chile developed a tool to remotely check stock levels for critical site materials – ensuring employee safety as well as a quick response.

Now, according to the Axora Insights COVID-19 survey, despite a significant drop in revenue after the pandemic caught the industry off-guard, experts expect the metals and mining sector’s investment in digital innovation to grow about 10% year-on-year. By using innovative technology, the industry will overcome the challenge of converting traditional mines into smart, sustainable ones with social commitment, responsibility and care towards their workers and their rights.

Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Rio Tinto’s vast iron ore operation in Australia’s Pilbara region, for example, is the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous trucks, having announced last year that 50% of its entire haulage fleet was automation-ready, providing safer and more cost-efficient sites. In Chile, Teck Resources is using remote smart sensor technology to gather data on the local water and identify hourly fluctuations in water quality, enabling the company to share 24/7 real-time water quality data with the local community. Nornickel in Russia is installing data transmission devices on load-haul-dump vehicles and self-propelled drilling rigs to enable remote-controlled operations, as well as developing drones to take video deep inside the mines and robots for high-quality 3D mine surveying.

Meanwhile, the Borden gold mine in Ontario, Canada, and the Agnew mine, in Western Australia, have faced their environmental challenges head-on by introducing electrification and renewable energy to their sites. The Borden mine’s electric and battery-powered fleet has eliminated diesel emissions completely and is expected to halve the total emissions on site by around 5,000 t of CO² a year. Whilst the Agnew mine met up to 60% of the site’s energy needs by running remote, off-grid operations with solar, gas, wind, and battery power, proving that such operations need not compromise reliability or productivity.

COVID-19 has escalated the need for a more sustainable and resilient metals and mining sector. There is a need to protect in the longer term, for example, against future pandemics, to ensure worker’s safety, to implement rapid recovery systems and to de-risk operations. Shifting global priorities are putting a greater emphasis on health, social and community issues; responsible partnering with the government; and pressure on companies to demonstrate fast and responsive action to current issues.

The global pandemic has provided metals and mining companies with the downtime to improve their innovative solutions and enable ‘smart’ and sustainable mines. From being a vague term, sustainability has become a real goal as COVID-19 has pushed companies to put the priorities and goals in the right order and to drive forward their businesses.

*Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American, and Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Nornickel’s digital mine plan taking shape

Norilsk Nickel has recently launched a new operational control centre at its Oktyabrsky mine in Russia, leveraging the underground infrastructure investments the company has made in the past five years across its Polar Division operations as a way to increase its operational efficiency.

The Oktyabrsky centre, which cost around $1.6 million to install, monitors mining operations on a continuous basis, using communications infrastructure and positioning systems to locate equipment and people underground. It is part of the company’s Technology Breakthrough program, a project launched in 2014 to digitise and automate most processes at the company’s extensive mining and processing facilities by 2020.

By the end of 2019, similar operational centres will be built at all Norilsk Nickel Polar Division mines (Skalisty, Komsomolsk, Taimyrsky and Mayak, according to the company, with the five centres set to cost the company around $6.3 million in total.

Norilsk said: “The launch of the operational centre at the Oktyabrsky mine was possible due to long-term work on the creation of underground infrastructure, which was carried out at all of the company’s mines in the Polar Division as part of the ‘Technology Breakthrough’ project.

“The project installed radio communications and positioning systems to locate mining equipment, it also installed fibre-optic communication as well as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is now available in every mine. Every mine is also equipped with cameras.”

This infrastructure has enabled personnel at these mines to receive real-time data on shift targets without human intervention, according to Norilsk.

In addition to this, the company has developed a “Ten-day shift schedule” software, which helps schedule the work of miners over this period, Norilsk said, explaining: “The planning system’s algorithm distributes the amount of work and equipment per production and shifts, taking into account the cyclical nature of the process and the initial data.”

The use of this software has allowed Norilsk Nickel, in certain cases, to abandon a non-centralised and manual approach to mine planning. “The software functions from a database, which contains information on the performance of all the equipment, mining operations, distances from loading sites to ore chutes and skip shafts, etc,” the company said.

Mining operation plans from different phases and areas at the Oktyabrsky mine are now integrated into a centralised planning system, with the “Ten-day shift schedule” leveraging data from MICROMINE’s exploration and mine design solution, Micromine. This creates a 3D program of the ore being developed, helping optimise the mining methods and sequence of processing reserves.

In reference to the new operational centre, Norilsk said: “Transferring mine operation monitoring, management and planning functions to the operational centre, together with the installation of new technologies, will contribute to a 10% increase in labour productivity.” This will also make it possible to improve both the quality and consistency of the ore mined and shipped to the Talnakh concentrator.