Tag Archives: remote operations

MineWare goes remote for latest Argus and Pegasys deployments

MineWare has been ramping up its remote deployment offering during these challenging times, with the Komatsu-owned company’s local teams recently helping a major copper mine in Chile set up its Argus monitoring system on five of its electric rope shovels without stepping foot on site.

The company is focused on helping its customers stay operational and keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and CEO, Jason Fisher, said the company’s ability to adapt and innovate had proven key to finding new and different ways to meet customers’ needs in the field given numerous virus-related constraints.

“Remote monitoring, service and support is a fundamental part of our business. It’s what we know and what we do best,” he said.

“During the pandemic, we’ve pushed the boundaries of these capabilities to help our customers protect their workforce while continuing to drive forward productivity and efficiency.

“Our local field support teams around the world have transitioned to deliver more services remotely, thinking outside the box to perform tasks traditionally delivered on the ground, like the deployment of new systems.”

Fisher said innovation, collaboration and communication have been critical success factors in helping customers adapt to the changing environment.

Referencing the Argus deployment at the Chile copper mine, he said: “Calibrating multiple systems, for the first time virtually, was a historic achievement, made possible by the collective efforts of our remote teams working in close partnership with customer teams in the field.”

Argus, an advanced monitoring system for electric and hydraulic loaders, is designed to manage payload, mine compliance, machine health and situational awareness.

The company’s North American team has also recently been successful in completing its first 100% remote Pegasys dragline system calibration, with instruction to and assistance from the customer, Fisher added.

Pegasys is, MineWare says, an advanced payload and mine compliance monitoring system for draglines that enables mine sites to establish best operator practice.

Fisher believes there will be increased demand from the global mining industry for innovative solutions that facilitate greater connections between remote and in-field workers.

“As we start to see many of the large mining companies return to normal rosters, workforce safety and connectedness will drive continued demand for digital technologies and remote service offerings,” he said.

“The industry needs interoperable, OEM-agnostic solutions that improve the flow and visibility of information between equipment, systems and people – to make operations safer, more effective and more productive.”

Mineral Resources and Roy Hill remote sites stay connected with Swift Media

Telecommunication and content provider, Swift Media, says it has signed three new contracts to provide fit for purpose entertainment systems at workforce accommodation villages, two of which are for mining clients.

The contracts come with a combined total contract value in excess of A$2 million ($1.23 million), according to the ASX-listed company.

Mineral Resources, which provides mining services to clients throughout Western Australia and the Northern Territory, operates mine sites in the Pilbara and Goldfields regions of WA and ships product through Utah Point and Esperance, has appointed Swift for the provision of PayTV content and ad hoc support and maintenance services to five of its remote accommodation sites, Swift said.

Under a two-year agreement, Swift will provide content to rooms and wet mess areas to service the five remote sites, it explained.

Swift has also been granted a 12-month contract extension from Roy Hill, in Western Australia, where it will continue to provide communications and entertainment services to the Roy Hill iron ore mine village in Western Australia.

Roy Hill is an iron ore mining operation in the Pilbara. Located 340 km southeast of Port Hedland, it has an integrated mine, rail and port facilities and produces 55 Mt/y of iron ore, with approval to increase to 60 Mt/y.

RCT and Northern Star carry out ‘history-making’ trial in WA’s Goldfields region

RCT and Northern Star Resources have recently completed an autonomous technology trial in Western Australia’s Goldfields region that bodes well for the future of underground remote operations centres in the state.

In early October, RCT set up a ControlMaster® Automation Centre at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) in Kalgoorlie with a network connection to an underground LHD equipped with ControlMaster Guidance Automation at the East Kunduna Joint Venture (EKJV) mine.

EKJV is a joint venture between Northern Star, Tribune Resources and Rand Mining, managed by Northern Star  and located around 40 km away from Kalgoorlie.

The mining method at the Kundana operations is from underground using up-hole longhole stoping with paste backfill.

The project to set up a Remote Operating Centre (ROC) was a combined effort by technical specialists from RCT and Northern Star Resources, RCT said.

Once operational, a Northern Star Resources equipment operator controlled the ControlMaster Guidance Loader from the WASM Kalgoorlie facility and resumed site required remote production rates.

Northern Star Resources currently uses ControlMaster Guidance Automation on its underground LHD fleet at the EKJV from an onsite Surface Control System.

RCT said: “The trial is a history-making event for the Goldfields region and represents an exciting opportunity for both Northern Star Resources and RCT and what can be achieved through the use of smart technology.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “This trial has helped both businesses to understand what future opportunities there are in autonomous technology, which is not only exciting for both business but the local Goldfields community as well.

“To conduct the trial from the WA School of Mines is also a story worth sharing with the wider mining and METS (mining equipment technology and services) community, to showcase the great innovation coming from the Western Australian Goldfields region.”

ROCs represent great job opportunities for members of the labour force who traditionally would not be able to work on a mine site due to various lifestyle or personal factors, he added.

Chief Executive Officer of Northern Star Resources, Stuart Tonkin, said: “ROCs are proven for surface operations, but this advancement for an underground application is a significant development led by RCT in the Kalgoorlie Goldfields.”

He added: “Northern Star Resources encourages continual improvement and innovation, and we are very pleased with RCT’s commitment to developing practical mining solutions.”

Anglo approves development of ‘technologically advanced’ Aquila coal mine

Anglo American has approved the development of the Aquila project, in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin, which will become one of the most “technologically advanced underground mines in the world”, according to the company’s Tyler Mitchelson.

With an expected capital cost of $226 million (Anglo American share), development work is expected to begin in September 2019, with first longwall production of premium quality hard coking coal in early 2022, the company said.

Aquila is an underground hard coking coal project, near Middlemount, which will extend the life of Anglo’s existing Capcoal underground operations by six years, to 2028, and continue to optimise the Capcoal complex, it says. The complex consists of the Capcoal open-pit mine, underground Grasstree operations and associated infrastructure, and is a joint venture between Anglo American (70%) and Mitsui & Co (30%).

Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said Aquila was an important growth project for the business, and would provide ongoing employment opportunities for the company’s Grasstree workforce as the mine reaches its end of life.

“The Aquila project is a key part of our long-term business strategy, as we continue to optimise existing capacity in our operations,” Mitchelson said.

The mine will have a total average annual saleable production of around 5 Mt of premium quality hard coking coal, according to Mitchelson.

Aquila will also continue to adopt Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining™ program, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major operational and sustainability challenges, the company said.

Mitchelson said: “Anglo American has been at the forefront of embracing innovation to drive the next level of mine safety and performance, and our Aquila mine will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.”

One of the initiatives the company is working on as part of this is remote operation of the longwall; a process the company has trialled at some of its other Bowen Basin coal mines. The company’s “Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets”, are also set to be a feature of the mine, according to Mitchelson.

He concluded: “The accelerating pace of technological innovation, particularly in the digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence areas, are opening up opportunities for the mining sector to be safer, more productive and sustainable. As the largest underground coal miner in Australia, we are leveraging the innovative work already under way at our existing mine sites and scaling the development of new technologies in our operations.”

Sotkamo Silver hopes XRT ore sorting technology will lead to upgrade

Sotkamo Silver is looking to become one of the few precious metal operators using X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorting technology at its project in Kainuu, central Finland.

The project, which IM visited as part of the Finland Mine Safari for analysts and investors organised by Mining Finland this week, is expected to start production in the March quarter, ramping up to initial capacity of 350,000-450,000 t/y from a combined open-pit and underground operation.

At this rate, the mine should produce some 1.1 Moz/y of payable silver over a seven year life at all-in cash cost of around $9/oz, along with significant amounts of zinc, lead and gold within three saleable concentrates (Ag-Au-Pb, Zn-Ag and pyrite-Ag).

In order to cut processing costs and improve grades, Sotkamo is looking to install an Outotec-TOMRA XRT ore sorter at the operation. The machine, which will be acquired through a low interest loan from a Business Finland subsidiary, will be used after two-stage crushing (jaw and cone crushers) has taken place and the rock is some 30-70 mm in size.

Test work in 2015 on some 2,200 kg of Sotkamo samples showed the silver content from low-grade ore  increased some 1.9x to 116 g/t Ag, while the average silver content in ore was boosted 1.43x to 195 g/t Ag. Silver recovery from low-grade ore samples was 88%, while average ore-grade recoveries were 89%.

In addition to this, about 60% of the rock previously classified as low-grade ore was removed as gangue with the XRT trial at TOMRA’s facility in Germany, with some 43% of rock reporting as gangue from the average grade ore samples.

CEO Dr Timo Lindborg said the sorting technology did not locate the silver within the ore, but recognised lead. This would enable the company to upgrade the silver grade within ore reporting to subsequent grinding, flotation and filtration processes.

During the site visit, IM saw the mill building being constructed, witnessed pre-stripping of the openpit and works on the tailings facility, and saw the already-completed decline down to 350 m depth.

The company is currently in the process of selecting a mining contractor to carry out both openpit (conventional truck and shovel) and underground (longitudinal bench and fill, using cemented backfill where necessary) works.

The 2017 technical report envisaged using electric-hydraulic production drilling jumbos, diesel LHDs (remote controlled where possible) and diesel dump trucks underground for mining the 20 m high, 60-70 m long and 5-30 m wide stopes, along with backhoe excavators and articulated or dump trucks for open-pit mining.

Sotkamo Silver expects to extend the 2.6 km-long decline, which was constructed by Outokumpu back in 1993, down to the 750 m level in year three, while it is also weighing up the use of both solar and wind power at the operation further down the line.

Botswana diamond producer looks to RCT for teleremote operation

RCT is helping a leading diamond producer in Botswana improve safety and productivity at its mine sites through the use of its teleremote solutions.

The ControlMaster® solution will be installed on two Komatsu D475-5EO dozers to safeguard machine operators by removing them from the cab and allowing them to control the dozers from the safety of mobile Control Centres using multiple cameras and sensors

RCT says its ControlMaster teleremote solution for dozers improves operator safety in high risk operating conditions, maximises dozer utilisation, ensures greater overall operator vision for more effective operation, provides an improved ergonomic operating environment for increased operator comfort and is easy to operate and maintain in unstable conditions.

“This particular job is being carried out by the company’s specialised bespoke department, RCT Custom, and is expected to be deployed in August 2018,” the company said.

Earlier this year, RCT created a bespoke solution to improve safety at Kumba Iron Ore’s Thabazimbi iron ore mine using ControlMaster.

RCT did not name the customer and said it would provide more information on the project in due course. De Beers, via Debswana, is currently the biggest diamond miner in the southern African country.