Tag Archives: Pybar Mining Services

Emesent takes drone autonomy to another level with AL2

Emesent says it has announced a major breakthrough in the journey to fully autonomous drone flight systems, with the launch of Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) for Hovermap, the world’s first plug-and-play payload for industrial drones that provides autonomous beyond line of sight, GPS-denied flight.

Building on Emesent’s Hovermap simultaneous localisation and mapping autonomous (SLAM) flight system, AL2 enables compatible drones to fly beyond communications range and venture beyond line of sight into unmapped areas, it says.

“The AL2 technology enables companies to rapidly map, navigate, and collect data in challenging inaccessible environments such as mines, civil construction works, telecommunications infrastructure, and disaster response environments,” Emesent said.

Andrew Rouse, Chief Technology Officer at PYBAR Mining Services, a user of the Hovermap payload, said: “AL2 is a game changer for us. It takes Hovermap into places that even the most experienced pilots would fear to venture, enabling us to obtain critical data in real time without risking the machine. We’re already seeing great benefits to our workflow and operational efficiency from using the new technology.”

PYBAR has previously collaborated with Emesent to test automated drones at the Dargues and Woodlawn operations, in Australia.

Emesent’s technology builds on a decade of award-winning research by CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems group into drone autonomy and 3D LiDAR-based SLAM techniques.

Customers around the world have been using Hovermap’s Autonomy Level 1 capability for almost two years, safely mapping challenging GPS-denied areas within line of sight. Moving to AL2 means the drone can self-navigate and avoid obstacles beyond line of sight, while being operated from take-off to landing from a safe distance, the company explained.

The system processes data on-board in real time to stream a 3D map of the environment back to the operator’s tablet, providing instant and detailed insights into the surrounding area, as well as any potential hazards. The entire mission from take-off to landing is conducted by interacting with the live view 3D map, allowing stopes to be mapped with just a few taps, Emesent claims.

AL2, according to Emesent, will give industrial customers:

  • Improved safety, with the ability to fly beyond line of sight keeping workers away from hazardous environments and better data insights informing how to make mines and other environments safer;
  • Cost optimisation, as it is quicker to scan environments and the technology requires less skill to operate;
  • Reduced downtime, with the drone able to quickly and easily map inaccessible underground excavations, with minimal disruption to production;
  • Enhanced visibility into environments, with real-time point clouds delivered directly to the pilot’s tablet, enabling them to interact with and explore the scan data as they operate the aircraft; and
  • Ease of operation due to its “Tap-to-Fly” and “Guided Exploration” functionalities, and various fail safes, including automatic return to home on low battery and automatic landing at critical battery level.

AL2 is currently compatible with several DJI Enterprise drones including the new DJI Matrice 300 RTK, according to Emesent.

“Emesent has worked closely with DJI to ensure close compatibility and integration of autonomous functionality such as AL2 with the drone’s flight controls,” it said. “Further compatibility with other drone models is planned following the launch.”

Dr Stefan Hrabar, CEO and co-Founder of Emesent, said: “This is a huge step forward for drone autonomy and a massive benefit to industries like mining, civil construction, and emergency response.

“With the intelligence to navigate environments without a prior map, customers can use the system to carry out complex missions, secure the safety of personnel, and drive greater efficiency in their operations.”

Dargues gold mine on the road to production: DRA Global

DRA Global says it is in the final stages of the implementation of the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) of the gold concentrate plant for Diversified Minerals’ Dargues gold project, in New South Wales, Australia.

The engineering company was awarded the EPC contract back in January 2019 after detailed design for the project commenced in March 2018. At this point, first ore was expected to be processed in early 2020.

As of March 2020, the plant construction and wet commissioning has been completed, DRA said. Hot commissioning is planned to take place soon and expected to be completed in early April. After this, the DRA team will hand over the 330,000 t/y plant to the client’s operations team, it said.

Dargues, owned by Diversified Minerals, an associated company of PYBAR Mining Services, was previously expected to have a 355,000 t/y capacity gold processing facility comprising crushing, milling, flotation and filtration circuits to produce a sulphide concentrate for export. This could see Dargues produce an average of 50,000 oz/y of gold in the first six years of production.

The mine, which will be operated by PYBAR, is also set to incorporate tele-remote loading. In December, Diversified Minerals took delivery of a second new Cat R1700 underground LHD following commissioning of the first loader during August.

The new machines are equipped with Caterpillar’s next generation Command for Underground technology, giving them automation capabilities that will allow them to be driven via tele-remote from the surface from early-2020. This will realise significant productivity, efficiency and safety gains, according to PYBAR.

Members of the Austmine Board were recently invited to a tour of the Dargues gold mine (pictured).

PYBAR takes Command of Dargues automation with new Cat R1700 LHDs

PYBAR has taken a step closer to advanced underground automation at the Dargues gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, with the arrival of a second new Cat® R1700 underground LHD at the Diversified Minerals-owned site.

The new loader visited the PYBAR head office in Orange, en-route to the mine site, where it was met by executives and senior management from PYBAR and WesTrac.

The first of two new R1700s purchased for Dargues from WesTrac was commissioned at the mine during August and the company, in November, announced that the underground loaders were undergoing staged testing that will see them move towards improved automation in early 2020.

Dargues is owned by Diversified Minerals, an associated company of PYBAR Mining Services. The mine is expected to have a 355,000 t/y capacity gold processing facility comprising crushing, milling, flotation and filtration circuits and produce a sulphide concentrate for export. This could see Dargues produce an average of 50,000 oz/y of gold in the first six years of production.

The new machines are equipped with Caterpillar’s next generation Command for underground technology, giving them automation capabilities that will allow them to be driven via tele-remote from the surface from early-2020. This will realise significant productivity, efficiency and safety gains, according to PYBAR.

Command is part of the Cat Minestar™ integrated suite of offerings designed specifically for mining, PYBAR said.

PYBAR Chief Technology Officer, Andrew Rouse, said: “With the second loader now on site we will complete the tele-remoting set up in time for stoping early next year.

“Our intention is to be able to tele-remote from the surface from the outset when both loaders go into full operation. It’s a milestone all three teams (Caterpillar, PYBAR and WesTrac) have been working towards and will deliver.”

The new loaders were purchased after trials at the Vivien gold mine in Western Australia during 2017, PYBAR said. These trials delivered impressive results, including quicker bucket loading, faster cycle times, greater payloads and less fuel burn, according to PYBAR.

PYBAR said: “These benefits were further highlighted when the Cat R1700 was tested against the R1700G at Vivien (owned by Ramelius Resources) in June 2018, prompting PYBAR to place the order for the new loaders.”

Rouse added: “We were extremely impressed with performance of the new loader during testing. With the knowledge gained from the activity at Vivien, we were able to carry out a rigorous analysis around the loader combinations required for the Dargues operation with the R1700 proving to be the most cost effective.”

Since the first new loader has been put into operation, PYBAR has been preparing for advanced automation through the use of the traction control and Autodig features on the new machines, it said. The feedback has been very positive with full buckets consistently being achieved, the company added.

“The Command technology enables remote operation from the surface or underground, providing productivity and efficiency gains, improved safety of personnel, more accurate tunnel navigation, and reduced machine damage,” PYBAR said.

Caterpillar’s Commercial Manager for Underground Technology, Randy Schoepke, said PYBAR has long seen the value of being on the “leading edge of technology” as a contractor and an owner miner.

“The new Cat R1700 loader will be a huge complement to their technology portfolio leveraging the most advanced features in the industry,” he said.

“The R1700 features of traction control, live payload, Autodig, and ride control will not only provide operator comfort and productivity but also be leveraged by Caterpillar’s latest generation of Command for Underground, Caterpillar’s remote and autonomous control system.”

Schoepke concluded: “When there is a requirement to remove the operator from the underground environment, the technology allows safety and utilisation to be taken to the next level. We look forward to our continued work with PYBAR on this project.”

WesTrac General Manager of Mining Sales, Jody Scott, said this development was the culmination of more than two years work with PYBAR to “identify and test the technology that will have the most impact and benefits for them and their clients”.

He added: “Extensive testing has enabled us to fully evaluate the challenges posed by the harsh underground environments in which the machines are required to operate. It has also allowed us to set up the machines to get the most out of their automation and tele-remote capabilities.”

Pybar starts underground mining at Heron’s Woodlawn zinc project

Pybar Mining Services has started up underground mining at Heron Resources’ Woodlawn zinc project in New South Wales, Australia, ahead of full commissioning by the end of the year.

The company entered into a four-year underground mining contract with Pybar in February and the contractor has now kicked off mining. This includes the ground support of box cut walls and the first portal blast of the decline.

Heron said the overall project, as of the end of August, was 73% complete, with earthworks substantially concluded, equipment purchasing at 98%, concrete almost complete and offsite fabrication 92% signed off. Sedgman is the EPC contractor.

Woodlawn is envisaged as a 1.5 Mt/y operation able to produce 40,000 t/y of zinc, 10,000 t/y of copper and 12,000 t/y of lead at steady-state production over a 9.3-year mine life. This is based on a reserve base of 2.8 Mt at 14% ZnEq from underground and 9.5 Mt at 6% ZnEq from reprocessed tailings.

The operation is set to use an IsaMill™ to treat the zinc-rich reclaimed tailings, as well as polymetallic primary ore in different processing modes. The 3 MW 10,000 IsaMill comes with an IsaCharger™ media delivery system, as well as commissioning services from Glencore Technology.

Heron’s Managing Director Wayne Taylor said: “Exploration over the last four years has defined a very high-grade, high-quality resource and reserve position, and the access which has now commenced will enable us to deliver underground ore into the processing plant in 2019.

“Once underground, our geological team will focus on further expanding the known mineralised positions to build upon the excellent and cost-effective work they have undertaken to date.

“Elsewhere on site, I am pleased to report that good progress continues to be made with all aspects of the build, and that works remain on schedule for the commissioning by the end of the year.”