Tag Archives: Rick Radcliffe

RCT goes to new heights for Western Australia underground mining clients

Autonomous solutions specialist RCT says it has fulfilled requests from mining clients and devised a unique warning system designed to prevent oversized equipment from getting stuck inside underground mining portals.

Staff from RCT’s branch in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, were separately approached by two major mining clients in the Goldfields region and asked to devise a solution to prevent portal blockages, which can severely disrupt regular mining operations.

Branch technicians subsequently produced the Over Height Portal Warning System, which consists of a laser mounted at a particular height connected to a unit placed at the portal entrance.

The unit, designed and built in RCT’s workshop in Kalgoorlie, will produce an audible alarm and flash the word ‘STOP’ to alert machine operators and nearby site personnel there is a potential over-height hazard.

Site personnel are able to determine the system’s field of view and isolate areas such as a corner or pole so that the system will only activate when it senses new objects, according to the company.

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “Occasionally underground haul trucks try to re-enter the portal with their trays accidentally in a raised position and this causes the trucks to get wedged in the portal.

“The time needed to dislodge the haul truck from the portal is very costly to the mining operation. Therefore, the Over Height Portal Warning System is a cost effective and easy solution that will help keep mining operations running smoothly.”

Since its development, the Over Height Portal Warning System has been sold to 10 mine sites throughout the Goldfields region, RCT says.

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.”

RCT’s Kalgoorlie branch makes quick work of automating Sandvik LH621i LHD

RCT says it has successfully installed its autonomous technology on the recently released Sandvik LH621i underground loader for one of its clients in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

Earlier this month, RCT’s Kalgoorlie branch received the loader and commissioned the ControlMaster® Guidance automation technology package only weeks after the machine was first released to the Western Australia market.

The ‘i’ series represents Sandvik’s latest iteration of its underground loader range and, according to Sandvik, is the LHD of choice for rapid mine development and large-scale underground production. It is a matching pair with the previously introduced 63-t payload Sandvik TH663i truck.

ControlMaster Guidance Automation means machines can automatically tram between production level locations at higher speeds while also providing real time, graphical machine information to operators situated in remote automation centres, RCT said.

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said the company could install and commission the Sandvik LH621i loader and deliver it to site within a relatively short lead time.

“Now that we have documented the new LH621i, all future ‘i’ series loaders can be commissioned in exactly the same amount of time as traditional Sandvik 621 loaders,” he said.

“This work follows on from a previous project where we commissioned two Sandvik LH517i loaders in the Kalgoorlie workshop for clients in the region.”

RCT helps train up Northern Star and Gold Fields apprentices

RCT says it is working with Gold Fields and Northern Star Resources to provide hands-on training opportunities to apprentices in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

This month, RCT’s Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, branch hosted Gold Fields apprentice Auto Electrician, Michael Schoeppner (pictured on the right), who carried out repair and maintenance work on remotely-operated mining equipment under the guidance of RCT’s experienced workshop staff.

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said: “Gold Fields is committed to team development, and we are delighted our apprentices have the opportunity to work with our business partners to receive valuable training, mentoring and experience.”

Following his training experience, Schoeppner will be able to apply his new skills to benefit Gold Fields’ projects in the region, where there is a continued emphasis on the use of remote technologies to improve safety and productivity in its mines, RCT said.

RCT also has a similar arrangement with Northern Star Resources, which saw apprentice Ben Ashby mentored by the company’s bench repair technicians at the Kalgoorlie branch earlier this month.

Ashby’s experience centred on unit repairs and diagnosis with particular focus on repairing remote interfaces and elements of RCT’s ControlMaster® Teleremote and Guidance products.

Northern Star Resources Maintenance Manager, Aaron Armstrong, said: “RCT has a wealth of in-house skills related to mobile plant equipment and electrical systems in the mining sector and we are happy they will share their knowledge with our tradespeople.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “These training opportunities enable staff from both companies to familiarise themselves with each other’s procedures and technical knowledge providing a strong base for future working relationships.”

RCT sensor solution passes the test at WA Goldfields mine

RCT says it has developed a monitoring system to improve underground mining operations at a gold mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

The miner approached RCT’s Kalgoorlie-based staff to develop a way to monitor the project’s ore passes to ensure they did not get blocked by larger rocks during the transfer of material.

The ore passes – now used to dump waste – are vertical chutes used by the mine’s Epiroc MT6020 haul trucks to dump material to backfill an old stope.

RCT subsequently developed the ore pass monitoring system consisting of a VEGAPULS 69 radar, spanning the 91 m deep pass, and a VEGAMET 391 measurement display to indicate at what depth a blockage may occur.

The VEGAPULS 69 is a sensor for continuous measurement of bulk solids under different process conditions, while the VEGAMET 391 is suited to simple control tasks in level, gauge and process pressure measurements, as well as for inventory management and remote enquiry, according to its manufacturer VEGA.

The display was designed to use its readings to control an associated traffic lamp assembly on the wall of the mine to advise mine staff whether material had been successfully transferred.

RCT said: “Once the system was implemented, the mining company introduced a procedure for operators to ensure the traffic lamps changed back to green after tipping to indicate the pass is clear of material.

“RCT’s technicians also installed a suppression field in the first 20 m of the ore pass and directly above it to stop sharp edges in the pass bouncing echoes and falsely tripping the sensor.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said the monitoring system can significantly reduce the downtime associated with blocked ore passes.

“If the pass becomes blocked then operators may not notice until the entire pass is filled up with material and, at that point, it will take a significant amount of time to clear the pass,” he said.

“The monitoring system ensures blockages are identified and cleared immediately.”